Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Looking Back on the April 5th 2019 Youth Harmony Festival

The Harmonizer’s 2019 Youth Harmony Festival was another great success with amazing energy and great singing and fun for all.

A couple things were different this year, The location was in our new chapter meeting place, the Scottish Rite Temple on Braddock Rd., which gave space for the male and female youth choruses to practice, plenty of space for snacks and break time, a big area for meals, and then a performance theater space.  

And our chapter’s new education director, Sheryl Berlin, made it all happen to contact music educators in the area far in advance for this Friday event! (She thanked Ike Evans and others for helping reach local music educators including a couple of our own members who brought students.)    

But the big difference was the number of students – 124 registered with 84 women and 40 men.  (after bus failure, and a school schedule mix up, there were about 100 actual attendees). The youth attendees were from 12 schools representing Maryland (Montgomery County (6), Frederick County (1), and the Homeschool Harmonizers north of Baltimore (1)) and Virginia (Prince William County (1), Fairfax County (1), and the City of Alexandria(1) ) and one representative (Frank Shipp's grandson) from North Carolina!  The participants ranged from 6th to 12th grade. Our own Micky Robertson also participated.
We had several music educators present -- Karisa Leoni (Sligo MS, Montgomery Co.), Stephanie Baker (Northwest HS, Montgomery Co.), Casey Belzer (George Washington MS, City of Alexandria), John David Maybury (Loiederman MS, Montgomery Co.), Kris Zinkievich (Blake HS, Montgomery Co.), Jen Newgent (Homeschool Harmonizers, Timonium, MD), Heather Smith (Elementary music educator and parent, representing South Lakes HS, Fairfax Co.). The music educators met as a group during the afternoon with festival staffers.

Associate director Tony Colosimo was emcee for the day and welcomed students, parents and fellow educators, and he served as clinician for the men’s youth chorus.  Katie Taylor from NY state (a three-time Harmony Queen and high school music educator who often is clinician for student events) was clinician for the women’s youth chorus.  Plus we had two outstanding teaching quartets to help coach, encourage, and sing with the students.  And both performed at the kick off session, sang tags with the students all day, and then did full show sets on the evening show for family and friends.

HOT PURSUIT quartet from the Atlanta, GA, and Cleveland, TN, is the current SAI Rising Star Champions with Michaela Olson, Tessa Walker, Melody Hines, and Candra Rice.  

SIGNATURE quartet from Florida is the current 2018 International silver medalist BHS quartet.  They have been with us before and helped recruit attendees at our area schools too. Quartet includes Paul Saca, Danny Cochran, Will Rodrigus, and Dan Waltz.

As a special surprise, THE QUINTONES quartet from NJ came down for the day and helped with the men’s chorus since they too are still students. Their quartet was named winner of the first ever Next Generation Quartet Contest at the mid winter convention in Nashville. They are from our own district and it was great to have them interact with local student musicians.  The quartet includes Chris Cranford, Julian LeFlore, Jake Lapp, and Tommy Hunter.

Learning track materials for the students had been previously distributed and school groups started arriving about 8:30 am for registration.  Tony started off their day with a great youthful warm up and got them laughing and already cheering – especially when the guest quartets were introduced and sang a song for the attendees!

During the day there were men and women rehearsals, sectionals, combined chorus work, tag singing,  and of course snack and break time!  (YeEd reports that they can demolish a table of cookies and chips in no time!  Thanks to all the contributions from Harmonizers for this aspect of the day.) The evening pizza feed made quick work of the 39 pizzas too!

Rob Barnovsky and Mario Sengco were the chief organizers, purchased lots of supplies and foods for the day and helped coordinate the operations.  But a lot of other members were there for the day helping to haul, move, carry, go get, and check on: Matt Doniger, Jerry Jayjohn, Frank Shipp, Casey Belzer, Randall Eliason, Jack Pitzer, Ellen Dellert, Dean Sherick, Walter Page, Gary Cregan, Shawn Tallant, Ben Roberts, Dennis Ritchey, and Carl Kauffmann. Some of this work included riser movement and sound set up. Krissi Folsom was photographer for the event. 

For the evening show, the Harmonizers started things off with a set of “America,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” with Ben Roberts as soloist, and “Blow Gabriel Blow” with the full stage presentation. Director Joe Cerutti welcomed the parents and families of the students and recognized their support of music in the lives of the young people. 

Our own a cappella group, TBD, sang on the show, and all three of the guest quartets! TBD included Josh DesPortes, Noah Van Gilder, Nick Leiserson, Jacob Broude, Terry Reynolds, Clark Chesser, Connor Goss, Brian Ammerman, Jeff Burkey, and Kellen Hertz.

The youth went wild with applause and standing ovations for the quartets and chorus!  They clapped and cheered and participated with the groups on the show.

The youth attendees sang on the show too and were a huge hit with the crowd of parents, friends and supporting Harmonizers.  Students completed a survey online (thanks to Dave Kohls) and were given a red Festival t-shirt to wear for the evening show.

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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