Thursday, May 10, 2018

Looking Back on the May 8th Chapter Meeting 

This week’s meeting was more traditional after the last several weeks of rehearsal sessions for our “Iron and Coal” performance.  We were at Convergence.

Director Joe Cerutti thanked all the men for their work ethic and professionalism during that whole event.  He shared some emails from outside the chapter including one from the CEO of Chorus America, and two from co-workers of Steve White.

Joe also shared that he was very proud watching the chorus perform as part of this major world premier.  He then invited the singers to offer responses.

From that point it was all work on our music, starting with the contest ballad. Then we worked to bring back the stage presence plan for “Great Day” for our anniversary show with instruction by Craig Kujawa, with Bruce Roehm helping to demonstrate.

Two of the recently formed small learning groups performed the contest uptune during this week’s meeting. Both worked with associate director Tony Colosimo before singing for the chorus. The first group included Ammerman, Belzer, Doniger and Poulin.  The second group included Kousen, Fedarko, Foil, and Kirkland.

At one point everyone had a chance to record the ballad and the uptune in order to submit to their section leaders.

Executive director Terry Reynolds conducted this week’s actual business meeting.  He reminded all about the location for upcoming meetings: Tues. May 15th at Durant with Cindy Hansen; Tues. May 22nd we will try out a possible new meeting space at the Scottish Rite Temple, 1430 Braddock Rd., Alexandria 22302, with risers. Many members will recognize that location as the place where we have often parked when going on extended bus trips.

Also, mark your calendar for the extra rehearsals the last two Thursdays in June.

There was another reminder about the chorus retreat. Terry reminded guys to turn in their payment for the chorus retreat to Howard Nestlerode. The retreat will be June 8-9-10 at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, (about 70 miles from Springfield).  Friday June 8th will be mandatory for front row and optional for all others with special sessions for the small groups to be coached. There are many good restaurants in town and it is a good social time on Friday nite. Fees include lodging; three meals on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday; plus linens and a Saturday evening party. There are three price levels – Friday-Sunday attendees ($114); Saturday-Sunday attendees ($83); and commuters who won’t be staying any nite ($78). Non-competing members are welcome to attend. Many members are behind in getting in their payments.  All requests for roommate assignments are due to retreat master, Chuck McKeever, immediately.

Terry reported that the new chorus uniforms have been ordered. They will become the property of the member and thus each man owes $100.  Instructions about hemming and such will come later.

Jack Pitzer presented a “Moment In Harmonizer History” sharing that the chapter history committee has collected all barbershop memorabilia from the home of Dick Hall, thanks to help from Dick’s children and to Dean Sherick for making the pickup.  This was also a reminder for members to be sure to mark collections of “stuff” to go to the chapter whenever he or his family does not want it. 

Ian Poulin asked for a few helpers at the Southern Division contest (combined with a Central Division contest) at the Hilton Mark Center, 5000 Seminary Rd. in Alexandria May 18th and 19th.  Those who might want to attend can get tickets at the door.  The Friday quartet contest starts at 2:57 pm. The Saturday morning chorus contest starts at 8:57 am.  The quartet finals start at 7 pm that nite. There will be several quartets from the chapter competing!

Ticket sales for the fall 70th anniversary show have begun.  Ian was issuing consignment tickets at the meeting.  Joe suggests that every member better get tickets for family and friends and personal ticket customers before the hall at Schleshinger is sold out!  Tickets are general admission for $35.  YeEd heard there will be some VIP seats for a higher price in the front rows.  Ask Ian about them.

Finally Terry announced he was resigning as executive director of the AH Inc.  He plans to continue his work as assistant director and music team support person for Joe.  The chorus gave Terry a loud and boisterous thank you and standing ovation for his work the last few years.

He also announced that Randall Eliason has agreed to be the new executive director.  That change means there will be some shifting of people serving as immediate past president, also.

President Shawn Tallant recapped the wild schedule we have had in April and May and thanked many men for their contributions. He also thanked Gerry Fuller for leading the effort to host the BABS chorus visit over Memorial Day weekend (they will visit our May 29th chapter meeting); Ike Evans for tuning the piano at Convergence prior to the final rehearsals of “Iron and Coal,” and Ian for accepting leadership coordination for the division event. 

Shawn also announced that the chapter will not be raising dues!!!  The recent efforts of Spring2ACTion helped make that happen. And the board expects the members to sell all the tickets for the fall show.  Each man will also be paying all the costs of the retreat and the cost of his new uniform.

President Liz Birnbaum from the AH Inc. board also spoke to announce the results of strategic planning by that board, using a small group of men representing all ages and aspects of the chapter. They have finished their work and now Dave Kohls will do focus groups in the months ahead with the final plan to be rolled out this summer.

Reflecting on the 70th anniversary, she thanked those who helped prompt the Proclamation from the Mayor and the Resolution from the State Legislature honoring our milestone year.

She announced that our fundraising goal for the anniversary is $70,000, and invited any members or family friends thinking of making a major gift to the chapter should contact her or Johan Westburg or Randall.  She also reminded those who are over 70 and a half of the option to donate to the chapter as part of their Required Minimum Distribution plan from 401K funds.

The success of the Spring2ACTion will help our cause.  Coordinator of that effort, Randall, reminded members to turn in their worksheets of email lists for the prize drawing for Orlando housing. (Finally tally from that one day fundraiser has gone over the $38,000 mark!)

Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Jerry Jayjohn for 1 year; Art Medici for 8 years; Andrew Havens for 9 years; Joel Golden for 13 years; Johan Westberg for 13 years; Joe Cerutti for 17 years; Kevin McKenzie for 19 years, Tom Berkey for 21 years, and Sam McFarland for 31 years (Sam has earned 25 Men of  Note too for bringing men into the Society).

Mark Klostermeyer welcomed three men who visited us for the first time – Mike Weber, Adam Shepard, and Dale Bird.

After a short break, it was back to work on contest songs.  Choreographer Carlos Barillo worked on some upgraded moves for the uptune.  He invited Ben Roberts to help demonstrate the left side of the chorus.

Singers made additional recordings and we closed the nite with “Keep the Whole World Singing.”

Until next time – editorjack! 

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Looking Back on the May 3rd and 4th 2018 Performances at Strathmore 

In about December of 2017, director Joe Cerutti got a request from the staff at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD, to provide the major choir for an original work called “Iron and Coal. – Survivor, and Son.”

The rock music work was created by composer and lyricist Jeremy Schonfeld as a multimedia event to pay tribute to his father’s experiences leading up to and including his time in Auschwitz.

About 70 Harmonizers and about 40 women who auditioned with Joe to sing with us formed the choir.  The chapter members thanked the women for the serious efforts to help make the music great, and their dedication to attend rehearsals.

These singers met over the weeks leading up to the Thursday and Friday nite performances – including dress rehearsals and work sessions with the musical director and arranger David Bloom, show director Kevin Newbury, production choreographer Natalie Lomonte; as well as with all the other choir groups, including a youth choir is based at Strathmore, and an orchestra.

Schonfeld and Bloom both came to Alexandria for initial sessions with the choir on April 24th.

For the performance, choir members wore grays and blacks of their choice and used music scores for the performances. Many of the songs were sung in Hebrew.

The work was inspired by the memoir of Schonfeld’s late father, Gustav.  He had been imprisoned at age 10 in Auschwitz. Many emotional moments were part of the performance including the “family” groupings of the singers, and the tender and honest story to share the memoirs of the father, Gustav, in his book and the son, Jeremy, in his musical work. Regardless of heritage, the singers and audience could not help but be moved by the performance.

The chorus received positive mentions in the theatrical reviews in the media. Joe was recognized during curtain calls as director of the choir.

This 90-minute world premier production was attended by many Harmonizer family and friends.

Until next time – editorjack! 

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Looking Back on the May 1st Chapter Meeting and Dress Rehearsal for “Iron and Coal”

(Thanks for reporters Don Harrington and Gary Cregan for this report while YeEd is on travel.)

The chapter meeting and rehearsal was fairly unique for the Harmonizers.  It was the first rehearsal of the entire cast of “Iron and Coal” musicians at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, MD. It was also the tech rehearsal for sound and lights.

The sound check for more than 50 instruments and vocalists on the main stage took quite a while, so everyone had plenty of time to review their music, or otherwise get to know the other singers who have joined the chapter for this performance (we talked quietly in the choir loft while the instrumentalist worked).

The Strathmore Music Hall was a hive of activity long before 6 pm as the guys made their way from the parking garage or metro after leaving work early and fighting the rush hour traffic from DC or Virginia.  Some came early and did some shopping or grabbed some grub. Others work nearby and were able to do a full work day and still be on time.  Terry Reynolds and the music team posted the names of each chorus member and their assignments to one of four singing groups and several "families."  Mark Klostermeyer lined us up so we were ready for each group to be called for seating in the choir loft by choreographer Natalie. 

The first third of the rehearsal were dedicated mostly to sound and light checks.  Conductor David Bloom directed singers and instrumentalists to perform parts of show and adjustments were made.  After a break, Natalie Lomonte, production choreographer,  taught us five moves and assigned each of us one of them as our signature move to be used when instructed. After performing the first two movements, we took another break while director Kevin Newbury critiqued our costumes we had chosen in grays and black.  Then we performed and tweaked two more movements.

Our director Joe Cerutti met with choral members (about 75 Harmonizers and 50 women who auditioned for this performance  with us) at the end of rehearsal to give feedback and answer questions, then followed up with an email overnight listing all the changes to the score and important rehearsal notes.  In spite of a lot of "sit and wait," the excitement is building, goose bumps are popping up, and not a few tears have already been shed.  We can't wait to lend our voices to these talented artists and accept the challenge to change some lives.

Until next time – editorjack!
(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd