Friday, March 22, 2019

Looking Back on the March 20th Together in Harmony Show 

The Alexandria Harmonizers joined forces with the Alexandria Singers to host Vocal Collective from Christchurch, New Zealand, in a concert Wed., March 20th, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  The sellout crowd filled the grand auditorium in the Memorial as a tribute and in support of the victims of the violence recently in Christchurch.

Vocal Collective is on tour in the USA and added the stop in Alexandria to join with barbershop friends here for the concert. But after the massacre in their hometown, the trip took on a whole new dimension. After this stop in Virginia, they will go on to New York and later sing at Carnegie Hall.

About 200 singers combined for the finale of the Together in Harmony show! The night started with remarks of encouragement and thanks from New Zealand Ambassador Rosemary Banks. She set the tone for the whole event with her assessment that the evening would be “unity and love exemplified by music.”

Emcee Bill Colosimo, director of the 80-member Alexandria Singers, also welcomed Imam Zia and Ms. Fatimah Popal, co-founder of Makespace American Muslim Community, who spoke and offered comfort as well as appreciation for early responders and the outpouring of national support for their brothers and sisters who lost their lives in Christchurch mosques. She suggested that “music can soothe and will make our hearts lighter.”

The 80-men of the Alexandria Harmonizers barbershop chorus were first up with an excitement-building performance of “Blow Gabriel Blow” featuring our great front row and Tony Colosimo as Gabriel.  Director Joe Cerutti thanked all those who came to support the effort and explained a little about the roots of barbershop which lead right into the chorus having fun with their rendition of “There Must Be a City” made famous by our friends THE FAIRFIELD FOUR. Frank Fedarko did the solo for this one. The chorus wore their black camp shirts.  

Our contemporary a cappella group, TBD – Jacob Broude, Josh Roots, Troy Hillier, Nick Lieserson, Noah Van Gilder, Connor Goss, Terry Reynolds, Clark Chesser, Brian Ammerman, Kellen Hertz, and Jeff  Berkey – sang “Rhythm of Love. ” 

For their final numbers, the Harmonizers performed Neil Diamond’s “America” and then involved the audience in singing “All You Need Is Love” with an interlude for everyone to hug and greet the person next to them. Clyde Crusenberry did the solo on this song. 

Without much break, the Alexandria Singers took center stage dressed in their royal blue and black combination outfits. The mixed voices group was formed in 1975 to sing pops music. They have grown and perform often in the DC metro area and have traveled overseas several times.

One of their songs featured songs from American Bandstand and that got folks in the audience doing the twist in the aisles.  Their piano accompanied show also included an Irish song they sang in Ireland and a great arrangement of “Shenandoah.”  Their special group was a cabaret set with Spanish guitar and dancers. Their finale was a collection of songs from the new movie “Sing.”

During the show, emcee Bill announced that the two Alexandria choruses would be giving their share of the show’s profit to the New Zealand support fund.  And he also announced the late breaking news that the venue hosts of the Masonic Memorial were also yielding their fee for the use of the hall to the fund raising effort.

The 40 singers from Christchurch took the stage next wearing black outfits with accent pieces in bright pastel colors. Their artistic director, Matthew Everingham was their accompanist and spokesperson.  He too spoke about the special treat to share the joy of their music with the other singers and the audience.  They had a number of friends in the audience waving New Zealand flags and leading the cheers!
Their mixed voice 40-singer group is an outgrowth of the Christchurch Pop Choir. They sang Bruce Springsteen’s “Up for the Rising” and Carol King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” They sang one beautiful song in the Maori language.  Their special group was a barbershop quartet with David Merriman, tenor;  Ed Dempsey, lead, both barbershop singers from NZ who are in Vocal Collective; Bill Colosimo from the Singers on bari; and Andrew Havens from the Harmonizers on bass.  They sang “Now Is the Hour” with a second verse with the NZ guys in their language and the Virginia guys in English.  It was awesome.

The Vocal Collective finale was “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”

Then there was a huge finale of all three groups! The Harmonizers and Vocal Collective sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” accompanied by Matthew. And then the Alexandria Singers joined the stage for all three groups to sing Joe Liles’ original song and SATB arrangement of “Let There Be Music, Let There Be Love.”

The newsworthy event did attract local media from NBC and Fox and they both had coverage on the late evening news. It was broadcast via to their subscribers. 

Leaders who coordinated the event from the beginning and then adjusted many aspects of the night after the disaster in New Zealand included Bill Colosimo, Joe Cerutti, Randall Eliason, Liz Birnbaum, Joe Cerutti Sr., Catherine Colosimo, Robyn Murane, Shawn Tallant, and Steve Murane.

Ticket chairman was Dean Sherick. Robyn coordinated a large crew of volunteers to manage tickets sales and collection, usher guests, host singing guests, and collect donations to the relief fund. The Harmonizer usual riser crew was on hand to move in and out. Mike Kelly and Dennis Ritchey and crew provided the sound equipment for the show.

There was a program insert distributed to all attendees for the show offering a QR Code for individual giving.  The link is for those who might wish to contribute to the fund suggested by the Vocal Collective.

There was a fun afterglow at Chadwicks in Old Town Alexandria after the show with a huge crowd of singers from all three choruses there to meet and greet and support the new friends from New Zealand. 

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

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