Saturday, February 23, 2019

Looking Back on the Feb. 19th Chapter Meeting 

In addition to the usual warm up to start this week’s meeting and rehearsal, associate director Tony Colosimo taught the “Back In My Hometown” tag.  Then he had the six or seven tenor’s step off the risers and had all the rest of the chorus divided up around a tenor and those small groups worked on the tag and ways to make their execution of it better. 

When director Joe Cerutti took the helm, he was fired up and excited about the evening’s work plan. He thanked the guys who did the Singing Valentine and asked for fun stories from those guys.  Four quartets made appearances as assigned by the chapter for public relations and community relations efforts as determined by the chapter. Quartets 1 and 2  sang during the noon time period at the Mayor’s office in Alexandria, at several retirement places and at major recreation centers in town. Quartets and 3 and 4 sang in the early evening at several spots in the Del Ray region of town, and at some popular spots in Old Town such as Virtue Feed & Grain, Chadwicks, and Hard Times..

Quartets who went out for the chapter included the following members (yes – some guys sang twice!
1. Rob Barnovsky, Brian Ammerman, Don Thompson, and Dean Rust
2. Carl Kauffmann, Randall Eliason, Steve Szyszka, and Matt Doniger
3. Aaron Simoneau, Frank Fedarko, Johan Westburg, and Matt Doniger
4. Brian Ammerman, Brian Miller, Jeff Burkey, and Connor Goss

Then Joe announced the exciting news that our chorus has been invited to do a show as part of the Strathmore holiday concert series on Sat. Nov. 30th.  The venue will market the 4 pm show as part of their series of events. Since it is the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, Joe asks all members to get onto Groupanizer before next Tuesday to indicate they can sing the show – yes or no.  He is hoping for at least 60 singers and of course more would be better. The show will be our music as planned by our music team. Chapter leadership has invited  gold medal quartet champs VOCAL SPECTRUM to join us for this huge opportunity.

The next big item from Joe was word that we would sing two extra songs as part of the finale with the Alexandria Singers and the Vocal Collective from NZ on March. 20th. Music for the two songs will be released soon.  Both are relatively simple for us to learn and prepare.  As a reminder, we all need to push tickets sales – they are only $10 per person.  The show is at George Washington National Memorial in Alexandria at 7 pm.

Finally, Joe explained that over the last few months a task force of members (new guys, long time members, music leaders, quartet guys, all parts) has been meeting to discuss how to rekindle the successful culture of our chapter – or at least strengthen it.  So – each member was given 6 color dot stickers and invited to place them on one of the ten boards which represented the task force’s consolidation of actions likely needed.  Those ten items were 1. Sing in Small Groups; 2. Embrace Practicing Performance; 3. Better Guest/Member Follow Up; 4. New Member Orientation; 5. Prioritize Recruitment and Retention; 6. Weekly Goals and Expectations; 7. Enhance Learning Expectations; 8. Create New Craft Maxims; 9. Sing to the Audience Not the Director; and 10. Identify the Purpose of Each Song.

Joe collected the boards full of colored dots for the task force to study and review. We will look for action in the weeks and months ahead.

Then it was on to singing with work on “Anything Goes” and “Empty Tables.” Tony is eager to have members audition with him for that solo.  He sang it this week with the chorus singing tenor, bari or bass.

Throughout the nite, Joe and Tony gave emphasis on the pre-assigned measures of the songs that guys were to work on at home.

At the start of the chapter meeting part of the nite, Joe offered a big challenge to the members.  He announced he’d sing in two quartets at the Southern Division with any guys who sign up on the chart on the wall.  He had already chosen the songs. (YeEd can report there was a big rush to sign up! And some of our newest members got their names on the list first!!)  Hopefully there will be other challengers to form quartets to sing at the May 31st contest in Baltimore.

The pending winter weather means the Wednesday one-on-one interviews will be cancelled.  Time and place for the interviews on Thursday and Friday will be released via email.

To clarify any doubts – the chorus WILL sing at our Youth Harmony Festival on Fri. nite April 5th. It will be at Scottish Rite Temple. Some of us will be needed during the day to help host, serve food, sing tags with the students, welcome parents and music educators, set up and take down.  Watch for sign up opportunities including bringing snacks, sodas and waters.

President Shawn Tallant reports that Mick Stamps is doing well after his heart surgery and taking calls and such.

Also Shawn remind all that he is accepting contributions for the Angel Fund that he can use to assist any member who is in a financial bind for dues or other fees.  This is especially important after the recent government shut down.

Shawn also thanked everyone for the great Presidents’ Banquet last weekend, and especially Clyde Crusenberry, BETTER TOGETHER quartet, and Riptide band. A complete report from that event will be released but in summary the recipients of the chapter’s major awards were Connor Goss – the New Note Award; Matt Doniger – the Honor Award; Chuck Hunter – the Oz Newgard Award; Jack and Pat Pitzer – the Ibbianne & Wilbur Sparks Award; and Al Herman – the Memorial Award. 

Chapter secretary Chris Buecher presented membership renewal cards to Brad Jones for 27 years, and Rick Savage for 45 years. 

Calvin Schnure welcomed our two singing guests this week – Turner and Ryan.

After a break, it was back on the risers for more work on our music for 2019.  For the newest of the songs, “Brotherhood of Man,” there were sectionals in various parts of the building. Joe reminded the chorus that this song will also become a major show number with a major visual plan to work on.

Then we ended the nite working on “Blow Gabriel.”

Joe and Tony were on hand too for the afterglow at Ramparts.  Everyone is welcome each week. 

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 Feb. 16th  Presidents’ Award Banquet and Board Installation

This year’s Presidents’ Award Banquet was at the Lee Center on Saturday nite, Feb. 16th .  This was our 45th such event. Over 100 of the Harmonizer family attended the tasty buffet banquet catered Maggiano’s. 
Our 2018 chapter president Shawn Tallant served as master of ceremonies for our annual event to celebrate our achievements for the past year, honor some of those who helped make those achievements possible, and install our 2019 officers and board.  Social hour was from 6 –7 pm, then Shawn invited folks to find their seats at the tables and enjoy the buffet.  Terrific table center pieces were created by Pat Crusenberry, Janet Cerutti, Krissi Folsom, Judy Huber, and Robyn Murane. 

After the meal, Randall thanked others who had helped with the banquet event including Steve Murane and Jack Pitzer for the printed program and year in review; Alan Wile for helping get all the awards for the nite; Dave Branstetter for help with tickets and reservations, and Clyde Crusenberry for the caterer, bar set up including the fun Scotch bar tasting in recognition for our 2019 trip to Scotland.
Each year this event is hosted by the past presidents of the chapter – thus the name Presidents’ banquet.  Presidents attending this year included Randall Eliason, 2016-17;Terry Reynolds, 2014-15; Alan Wile, 2013 and 2007, Steve Murane, 2011-12; Brad Jones, 2009; Bob Wells, 1996; Terry Jordan, 1984-85; and Jack Pitzer, 1973 (the first Presidents’ Ball was during his term – some years the event has been even more formal and other years it has been a potluck).

Shawn lead a toast to those member who have been added to our Memorial Roll in 2018: Dick Hall, Rob Nutt, Jack McKendree, Alan Kousen, and Austin Cotton.

To continue a tradition begun at the first banquet, each man presented a rose to his significant other as we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

Leaders of our sister corporation, AH Inc, were also introduced at the banquet including president Bruce Roehm, secretary Bob Faherty, board member Chuck Hunter, and past president Liz Birnbaum. Shawn thanked Liz for her dedication and efforts on behalf of the chapter during her term as president.
Shawn shared. “2018 was an exciting year with some wonderful musical and artistic achievements of which you are all aware and which are summarized in your program.”  [See the recently released Harmonizer 2017 Year in Review.]
Also he saluted the many men who step up and help move risers or load them onto our truck.  Affectionately called “Riser Rats,” a round of applause was offered for all those workers who set up the risers, refreshments, screen and av equipment, and membership sign-in kiosk

For years our friends and family have given us tremendous support through volunteer activities. It takes a lot to keep a group like the Harmonizers going.  Our volunteers help with membership, help throw parties and events, run the house and usher at our shows, selling snacks, CDs, tickets, taking donations, work on fundraisers, work on the silent auction, and sew and mend costumes to help us deal with any last-minute wardrobe issues.  It is no exaggeration to say we could not succeed in all we do without their help. Shawn expressed appreciation to all of the volunteers.

Under our new structure much of the day-to-day operation of the chapter has been moved from the duties of the BHS Chapter Board of Directors and given to an operations team composed of directors with various responsibilities.  The “Ops Team” for 2019 was recognized:
Executive Director:       Randall Eliason, Music/Artistic Director:  Joe Cerutti, Jr., Finance Director AH Inc:  Carl Kauffmann, Finance Director BHS:  Dave Welter, Volunteers Director:  Robyn Murane, Communications Director:            Steve Murane, Contest Director:  Craig Kujawa, Education Director:  Sheryl Berlin, Development Director: Johan Westberg, Membership Director:  Calvin Schnure, Shows Director:  Joe Cerutti, Sr., Operations Director:  Mike Edison, and Historian: Martin Banks.

The chapter invited Glenn Phillips, a chorus director of two neighboring chapters in MD, M-AD vice president of Music and Performance, and dean of Harmony University East, to install our 2019 board: President – Shawn Tallant, Secretary – Chris Buechler, Treasurer – Al Herman, Members at Large – Dave Branstetter, Clyde Crusenberry, Matt Doniger, and Immediate Past President – Terry Reynolds.
Shawn used his presidential prerogative to present Meritorious Service Awards for exceptional service to the chapter. 

This first recipient was Ellen Dellert. She is a long-time member of the Harmonizer family. For years she attended every chapter meeting often bringing goodies for the break time.  She served as treasurer of the former chapter auxiliary organization, and even helped as a uniform "wranger" for a contest package.  
The second recipient was Gary Cregan.  Although he is a new member, his demonstrated dedication to the chorus with lots of efforts to help where ever he was needed such as working with the risers and truck, helping with refreshments and events at chapter meetings, as well as getting his music learned and singing with the chorus.
The third recipients were Janet and Joe Cerutti, Sr., When the chorus needed a strong, experienced hand to take charge of show direction and production, he stood up but in reality, they both came in and volunteered. They have helped us develop an organized shows schedule, with events planned into future years. They made important contributions to the 70th anniversary show as well as the major holiday show.

The fourth recipient will be announced at a later event.
Next Shawn honored these recipients of the six chapter memorial awards given each year listed here with a description of the award.

New Note of the Year Award
Given to a Harmonizer who has contributed outstanding service to the Chapter in his first year of membership.  All new members for the previous 18 months prior to October 31 of the current year will be considered.  Attendance, attitude, and accomplishments of duties, both volunteer and assigned, shall be considered.

2018 recipient – Connor Goss Since coming to the chapter, this new member has jumped in to sing, work, help and entertain.  He has helped with the risers, helped keep the Harmo suite stocked in Orlando, filled in on front row parts of our anniversary show, learned the music for the  Harvey Milk repeat performance, and has signed on to sing with our a cappella group TBD.

Dick Hall Spirit of Harmony Award
Presented in memory of Dick Hall, a long time member (1965-2018)whose friendliness and encouragement inspired all who knew him. Given to a Harmonizer who during the year best exemplified Dick’s fundamental qualities of congeniality and good character and who worked hardest to encourage participation in vocal harmony by chapter visitors and members.
2018 recipient – to be presented as soon as possible.
Harmonizer Honor Award
Given to a Harmonizer for service which is above and beyond the usual service expected of members during the past year.  It is not intended as a reward for discharging a single specific duty, but for continuous service in several activities.
2018 recipient – Matt Doniger This relatively new member is dedicated and can be counted on to help and complete the tasks. Besides his singing on the risers and serving as our pitch pipe guy, he is the expert on loading the truck with risers and show and sound equipment. He has accepted leadership positions, and with his best friends, served as producer of our70th anniversary show.  He also is a member of the district operation team.  And he headed up this year’s Wilbur Sparks Put Together Chapter Quartet Contest.

A second recipient will be named later.

Ibbianne and Wilbur Sparks Award
Given to recognize the important contribution of Harmonizer family teams to the success and well-being of the Chapter.  The award will be made only to a truly outstanding team which has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a period of time.  The team can be a Harmonizer and any family member or significant other.
2018 recipient –  Pat and Jack Pitzer   He is a past president and the reigning chorus patriarch. He is part of the chapter history team, and serves as a mentor to current leaders and members. She too has contributed her support by hosting quartets, hosting visiting members who need to stay overnight after meetings, and hosting chapter parties at the home.
Oz Newgard Memorial Award

 Presented in memory of Oz Newgard (Musical Director 1962-70).  It is given to the Harmonizer who has made a significant contribution to the musical program of the Chapter during the past year.  The awardee's contribution need not be highly visible or of a technical musical character, but it must be related directly to the musical program. It should show the intent to make the musical program superior and enjoyable for all members.  The awardee should be a dedicated Harmonizer who has endeavored to improve the Chapter image in the Society and in the Alexandria community through musical excellence.  Any Harmonizer who has been a chapter member for more than one year shall be eligible for the award.

2018 recipient – Chuck Hunter this year’s recipient was so honored 20 years ago, but while his work takes him out of the country for long periods of time, he always returns to offer his talent and skills. That includes being assistant director and often offering coaching help to the chorus as their strive to be better entertainers. His skills as section leader and as an aid to the director are important too.  And his is our tag singing star too.
Harmonizer Memorial Award
Presented in memory of those men who died while members of the Chapter.  It is the highest recognition which the Chapter can bestow on a member.  It is given to the Harmonizer who, during his entire period of chapter membership, has devoted himself most unselfishly in rendering outstanding service to the Chapter.  The award is made only to a truly outstanding member who has regularly attended Chapter activities and who has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a long period of time.
2018 – Al Herman The Harmonizer Memorial award is our highest honor, bestowed only on a Harmonizer who has devoted himself unselfishly in rendering outstanding service to the chapter over a length of time in a variety of areas.  This year’s winner embodies selfless dedication to the needs of the Harmonizers.
He has been a Harmonizer for more than thirty years and for many years has served behind the scenes.  His special gift to the chapter has been his long-time work as finance committee chair and guru in budget development.
After the banquet, guests were invited to dance to the music of Riptide band which includes Chris Huber, Kellen Hertz, Joe Cerutti Sr., and Joel Golden. 
 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

Monday, February 18, 2019

Looking Back on the 2018 Harmonizers Events and Milestones

We began our 2018 year with the Presidents’ Award Banquet and board installation on February 3rd  at Fairfax Elks Club. Shawn Tallant was installed as president of the Alexandria Harmonizers Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) Chapter for ’18 along with his board Chris Buechler, secretary; Al Herman, treasurer; David Branstetter, Clyde Crusenberry and Matt Doniger, members-at-large; and Randall Eliason as immediate past president. A large operations team was also appointed to perform the work for the chapter: Executive Director, Terry Reynolds; Artistic Director, Joe Cerutti; Communications Director, Steve Murane;  Contest Director, Craig Kujawa;  Development Director, Johan Westberg; Finance Director (BHS Chapter) David Welter; Finance Director (AH Inc.) Carl Kauffmann; Membership Director Dave Kohls (replaced by Calvin Schnure midyear); Operations Director Mike Edison; Director of Shows Joe Cerutti Sr.; and Volunteer Activities Director Robyn Murane who later stepped down to take on chapter costuming activities.  The position of Education Director was vacant at the start of the year but was later filled by Sheryl Berlin. The position of Archivist/Historian was also vacant but was filled later in the year by Martin Banks.

The nine-member board of the chapter’s sister 501(c)(3) organization, Alexandria Harmonizers, Inc., elected Liz Birnbaum as president, Clyde Crusenberry as vice president, Bruce Roehm as secretary; and Julie Rizzo as treasurer. At-large members were Pat Miller, Ken Fess, and Bob Faherty. Shawn Tallant and Randall Eliason serve on that board as ex officio, as BHS president and Immediate Past President.
(In May, Terry Reynolds and Randall Eliason essentially switched jobs. Terry stepped down as executive director and Randall was appointed to that position by the AH Inc. Board.  Terry, as a past chapter president, agreed to be Immediate Past President for the BHS Chapter.)
On Sunday eve, February 4th, the chapter presented The Yale Whiffenpoofs – nationally known as the oldest collegiate a cappella group.  The chorus sang three songs before the guests sang. The show was in the auditorium of George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria and the audience filled the hall.
Our Singing Valentines program continued our practice of sending quartets to make free Valentine appearances in Alexandria and Northern Virginia at senior centers and restaurants, as well as for the Mayor of Alexandria.
A new experience this year was our performance March 1st as the lead-off choral group at the Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses National Seminar at National City Church on Thomas Circle. The chapter is a member of that organization and shared the kick-off concert session with The Rock Creek Singers from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and the United States Army Chorus. Marty Monson, CEO of the BHS, and our director Joe Cerutti attended the board meeting of the organization. 

The chapter hosted its 10th Youth Harmony Festival (YHF) on April 13nd to provide singing opportunity for about 50 students – 20 boys and 30 girls. The all-day event was at Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington.  There were students from several schools. Tony Colosimo was dean of the school and made opening remarks and welcomed the students, other faculty, guest quartets and local school music educators.  Two guest quartets came to help with the teaching, singing and working with the students: GIMME FOUR from BHS coming down from NJ; and THE LADIES from SAI coming from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  Deke Sharon, the “godfather of a cappella,” attended the whole festival and met with the music educators. The Harmonizers sang on the evening show when parents and friends of the students arrived. The youth women’s chorus and the youth men’s chorus each sang for the show while wearing their YHF t-shirts.
The Harmonizers hosted our fifth Aca Challenge at the Sixth Street and I Historic Synagogue in DC, Saturday, April 14th.  Although the chorus did not perform, the event was presented by the Harmonizers and hosted by Deke Sharon.  The chapter invited east coast a cappella groups to audition and six were chosen to compete. The $1,000 first prize went to GW VIBES.  Judges were leaders from the a cappella community including Tony Colosimo. Also the audience was invited to vote via text during the contest for their favorite.

Also in April, the chapter earned over $35,000 as a participant in the Alexandria Spring2ACTion program on April 25th.  Spring2ACTion is an all-day fundraising event for local nonprofits. We were one of the community’s arts group participants.  Our fans and supporters were able to donate all day. Chapter members prompted donations in the days leading up to the event as well as during the day. We won bonus dollars during the day for having the most donors in a particular hour and for having the most donors overall among arts groups.  The chorus gathered around dinner time at Virtue Feed and Grain in Old Town to sing for patrons there, and to have fun as the restaurant donated a share of their sales.  Mayor Allison Silberberg stopped to see us, spoke well about our group and presented a city proclamation in recognition of our 70th year.  The chapter’s goal got a big boost from the significant matching grant from Ken and Kim Fess.
In the fall 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 life and experiences as a Holocaust survivor , including his time in Auschwitz. About 70 Harmonizers and about 40 women who auditioned with Joe to sing with us formed the choir. 
For the Strathmore performance on May 3-4, choir members wore gray and black of their choice and used music scores for the performances. Many of the songs were sung in Hebrew. The show was very successful and 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 premiere production was attended by many Harmonizer family and friends
The M-AD southern division chorus contest was in Alexandria at the Mark Center, May 18-19. First place quartet in the division contest was POTOMAC SOUND with Tim Cobb, Tim Peterson, Mike Pinto, and Dale Bird. Second place quartet was CAPITAL CITY CLOSE HARMONY CLUB with Mario Sengco, Jordan Haedtler, Chuck Hunter, and Ken White. Since the chorus did not compete, several Harmonizers sang with other local choruses.
At the May 29th chapter meeting, we welcomed visitors from the British Association of Barbershop Singers, The Kingsmen from Kingsbridge. Their chorus was with us for the whole evening, and their leadership had dinner with the Harmonizer leadership prior to our rehearsal.  They spent about 10 days in the US visiting cities and choruses. Gerry Fuller was coordinator with their leadership for this visit in Alexandria.
On June 6th  the Alexandria Harmonizers chorus was named "Best A Cappella Ensemble" at the 2018 Greater Washington DC Area Choral Excellence "Ovation" Awards, sponsored by the Choralis Foundation.   Associate Director Tony Colosimo, President Shawn Tallant, and Assistant Director Terry Reynolds attended the event representing the Harmonizers. 
We took time at the June 19th chapter meeting for a brief Charter Night Celebration.  It was 70 years ago on this date that the Alexandria Chapter of SPEBSQSA was chartered.  There were 18 men’s names on the charter June 19, 1948, that was officially signed by Society founder OC Cash.  It was also an amazing coincidence that June 19th was the same day the Barbershop Harmony Society released the announcement to truly take action on the concept “Everyone In Harmony” with expansion of membership possibilities to include women and the spread of more people singing.  Our chapter has been a part of some of the early trials in this regard with some of our men singing in mixed quartets.
The Alexandria Harmonizers did compete in the 2018 International contest in Orlando in July. We held our pre-International contest retreat as usual at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, June 8-10. Our coaches were David McEachern and Steve Scott.  Chuck McKeever coordinated the retreat.  Our send-off event before going to Orlando was June 26th at the chapter’s new meeting place – Scottish Rite Temple on Braddock Road.  We were happy to have a full house of fans and relatives and other barbershoppers come wish us good luck.
The always-competitive Harmonizer chorus returned to the International stage with 84 singers with our director Joe Cerutti. Our ballad was “We Kiss In A Shadow” arranged by David Wright, and our uptune was “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” arranged by Rasmus Krigstrom. We earned 2,728 points, 90.9% and an eighth place finish!  We have competed at 27 International chorus contests since our first one in 1978 when we placed fourth.

In Orlando associate director Tony Colosimo conducted all warm-up sessions before director Joe Cerutti started working with the chorus. Choreographer Carlos Barillo, who created the plan for the uptune, helped fine tune and helped add the extra performance by Cy Wood (as a sort of Gabriel character) and Cecil Brown (as a sort of “confessing sinner”). Cy was our coach at Harmony University and Cecil sings in UP ALL NIGHT.  Cindy Hansen helped at all rehearsals.  She was joined by coaches from our pre-International retreat, Steve Scott and David McEachern.

In the evenings during the week, many of us adjourned to socialize with our friends in the Harmo HideAway.  Good crowds made it there each night to the suite hosted by Chuck McKeever, with Craig Kujawa and Ken Rub whose room we used.  Thanks to those who helped finance the suite or made contributions for goodies. Also thanks to the Class of 2018 for helping with shopping, set up and clean up.

At the Togetherness Dinner the night before going onto the contest stage, there was a bandana check for the Class of 2018 (they have been wearing a wildly colorful blue/green scarf since our retreat in May). Thirteen-year-old Mickey Robertson, their president, gave a great talk based on a new guy’s perspective. This year’s class of guys who had never sung on the International stage with us before included Connor Goss, Jerry Jayjohn, Mario Sengco, Mickey Robertson, Rob Barnovsky, Johan Westberg, Adam Afifi, and Chris Leyen. Later in the week, Cy Wood and Cecil Brown were presented bandanas and welcomed to the Class of 2018.

Coach and friend of all the chorus members, Cindy Hansen, spoke about how the Harmonizers have changed her life as an example of how they change lives of others. Current Mid Atlantic District president, our own Dennis Ritchey, extended greetings from the district. Jack Pitzer shared Top Ten Moments of Harmo History from the many other International convention appearances during our 70 years. Guest quartet and current M-AD mixed quartet champs, BETTER TOGETHER, sang for us.  The quartet includes Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens. Director Joe spoke about the importance of our singing and thanked the members and their families. 

In August over 70 of us had great fun at the annual sing with other local chapters at the 38th annual Dog Days hosted by the Prince William County Chapter.
The Alexandria Harmonizers armonizeBarbershop Chapter, chartered in 1948, celebrated the 70-year rich history of musical excellence, barbershop leadership and brotherhood at our fall show titled Platinum Moments. The performance was at 4 pm on Saturday, Sept. 8th at Schlesinger Hall on the campus of the NoVA Community College in Alexandria. We were joined by our brothers, Toronto Northern Lights (TNL) chorus, from Canada; and by our friends SIGNATURE quartet from Florida.
The silver medalist quartet came to town on Wednesday and spent Thursday and Friday visiting schools in the DC area introducing youth and music educators to a cappella singing and promoting our spring Youth Harmony Festival.  Our education director, Sheryl Berlin, coordinated that effort.  This was the third time the SIGNATURE guys have spent time at schools in our area.
Our other special guests for this show were folks who played an important part in our musical history on stage and in contest and in our growth as singers. During the show they made introductions of songs and told stories of how they had been a part of the Harmonizer history.
The special guests included Geri Geis – artistic director and choreographer during the Gold Medal chorus era; Cindy Hansen Ellis – choreographer and presentation coach and performance motivator since 2004 for contests, show and major performances; Dr. Rob Hopkins – arranger of our gold medal ballad “I’ll Be Seeing You” in 1995; Eric Jackson – the lyricist for the intro verse of that same ballad; Majorie Latzko – wife of Walter, who arranged our 1998 gold medal ballad “In The Wee Small Hours” and 28 other songs for the Harmonizers (she was tenor in the famous CHORDETTES of “Mr. Sandman” fame); Richard Lewellen – director 2003-2006 when we performed the contest package with “Lazy Bones” and “Summertime;” Mike Wallen – one of the four associate directors for the chapter including John Hohl, Terry Reynolds and Tony Colosimo; and Scott Werner – musical director for 30 years who took us to the four gold medals in 1986, 1989, 1995, 1998, and performances for five Kennedy Center Honors programs. Overall emcee for the show was Marty Monson – CEO/Executive Director of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS).
The songs the Harmonizers sang for this show were chosen by survey ballot sent to fans and family.  We sang the top vote getters and re-learned the music and the stage presence for the major contest uptunes that had earned gold medals or songs that had been part of major shows during the past. 
The opener was “Great Day” with the applause-earning visual spread to the sky. This was the first time for the family, fans and friends to see the new Harmonizer chorus suit with orange tie and pocket stuffer. Then came the popular “Summertime;” the “Glenn Miller Medley” that we sang in Normandy, France, for the anniversary of D-Day Landing; and our current contest package that was used in Orlando in July.
After the intermission, the curtain opened for the Harmonizers again – this time in their black tux with white vests and bow ties.  They sang the 1998 gold medal uptune “Steppin’ Out” with lots of uniform surprises like the popup top hats, and disappearing ascots, and plenty of dancing by the whole chorus.
Next was our always-an-audience-favorite, “New York – New York” which we had done on the Carnegie Hall stage in the past. As it usually does, this song earned a standing ovation
Then Scott Werner was introduced to direct the top vote getting song – “I’ll Be Seeing You” from our 1995 gold medal performance. It was the favorite Harmonizer song of all time and has been sung on many shows and concerts over the years.  For this show it was sung by both Alexandria and Toronto.
The amazing finale for the show was the Jay Giallombardo’s arrangement of “American/Canadian Ode to Joy” with both choruses and SIGNATURE and a guest quartet from TNL. This terrific arrangement featured a weaving of the American and Canadian National Anthems and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Although there had been a number of standing ovations during the evening, this last number caused the audience to erupt onto their feet to scream and applaud.
In addition to all the wonderful music during the evening, the Harmonizers presented their Award of Harmony to Joyce Garrett, music director at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria.  She was a major force in the chapter’s efforts to reach out and be sensitive to diversity in a cappella music in our city.
Both the Alexandria City Council and the Virginia Legislature passed formal proclamations this year congratulating the Harmonizers on their 70th anniversary, and representatives of those bodies presented those proclamations to the chorus during the show.
Over 50 former Harmonizers who did not sing on the show were greeted and given commemorative buttons to wear for the show for all to recognize them too. It was a treat to see some long-time members in the hall.
Volunteers helped welcome the 980 attendees to the sold-out event and helped organize a smooth seating process into the hall for the unreserved seats ($35 each). A limited number of premium seats ($100) were reserved in about the 10th – 15th rows.  These folks were invited to arrive early and celebrate with a toast on stage with the chapter leadership. 
A lobby display coordinated by the chapter’s history committee featured a tribute to the four gold medal contest appearances with a framed collage of the photo, the medal and the contest program.  The exhibit also had a collage of items from the earliest years of the chapter such as the charter and earliest quartet pictures.  There was also a framed autographed CD that Harmonizer fan, John Glenn, took to space! Finally there was the chorus photo at Wolf Trap with Victor Borge, and a poster from our trip to Normandy France. Historian Martin Banks provided major support for the audio-visuals developed by Mike Kelly to introduce the songs
The chapter created a great full-color 40-page printed program for our anniversary show with coordination by Casey Belzer. It was full of chorus photos from over the years; info about historical milestones, a list of the 44 men who have been president in the 70 years; and many tribute advertisements.
After the show, there was a Platinum Affair for performers and their guests at the Lee Center a few blocks away. Ken Rub organized the great wrap-up event to celebrate – combo music as guests arrived, hors d’oeuvres passed by waiters,  a fantastic Italian buffet with great desserts, two convenient bars for wine and beer, and a special anniversary cake.  Director Joe Cerutti was emcee for this event and started off the night thanking the producers – Matt Doniger, Rebecca Conner, Krissi Folsom, and Rob Langston. SIGNATURE sang, TNL sang, Alexandria sang a gospel song and then the choruses sang together again including the “Anthem” with the quartets.
Shortly after the 70th anniversary show, The Harmonizers were special guests at Strathmore Music Hall for a second time in 2018 – this time for the retirement gala of outgoing CEO of Strathmore, Eliot Pfanstiehl, on September 16th. The chorus was invited especially to reprise two great songs from “I Am Harvey Milk” which the chorus did a couple years ago at Strathmore – “San Francisco” and “Friday Night in the Castro” – complete with disco ball.  Other performers on the show were members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, Strathmore Children's Chorus, the YA youth chorus, and a youth trombone chorus.  Director was Rolando Santz.

On Saturday, October 6, the Alexandria Harmonizers performed for Art on the Avenue, a multi-cultural arts festival celebrating community diversity through the arts in the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. The Harmonizers enjoy performing at this annual home town festival, which provides an opportunity to give back to the community, build our brand and gain new fans. Over 25 other musical groups performed for some 50,000 visitors strolling down Mt. Vernon Avenue.
The 2018 fall M-AD contest and convention was in Reading, PA, at the Santander Performing Arts Center the weekend of Oct. 5-6.  There were two quartets from our chapter in the line-up –  YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT with Mike Wallen, Roger Tarpey, Hardman Jones, and Vic Owen and SILVER ALERT with Rich Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, and Steve Murane. 
There were sixteen choruses in the competition on Saturday morning.  Terry Reynolds was emcee for this event. The Harmonizers did not sing as the chapter is taking a trip to Europe next summer, however several members and former members sang with other choruses on Saturday.  Hershey won the chorus contest but declined the right to go to International next summer in Salt Lake City.  So the second place chorus, Hell’s Kitchen NY, will go to SLC.
Bob Eckman, who was vice president of the M-AD (and is now the president!), was also inducted into the M-AD Hall of Honor this year. Bob organized displays from many chapters in the lobby area of the venue and our display (created by Martin Banks with show flyers on the table and with our Harmo banner hung above it from the balcony by Robyn Murane) looked great!
On October 17, as part of our diversity/outreach effort, we participated in a community chorus/men’s fellowship meet-up hosted at the Alfred Street Baptist Church.  The Harmonizers, the Alfred Street Baptist men’s choir, and a combined men’s chorus from Metropolitan Baptist and Woodstream Churches all sang for each other and then socialized afterwards in the church basement.

October 20th was a great night at the Washington Hilton for the 31st Annual Humane Rescue Alliance Bark Ball. The Harmonizers were hired to sing one song for this major fundraising event and the event organizers hired Steve Tramack to create an arrangement of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On.”  The chorus walked out into a sea of humanity and canines and performed the song! There were more than 1,000 people in formal attire with their dogs, (some of them were also dressed in formal costumes). After this fun performance, the majority of the men headed to Duke’s Counter for a great afterglow.

Our own a cappella group, TBD, with their director, Reed Livergood, made many appearances during the year on behalf of the chapter including at the Old Dominion Boathouse and the Fairfax Country Club.

The 2018 holiday show was a great success with a large crowd filling the auditorium at TC Williams on King Street in Alexandria. “The Secret of Christmas” show had a special International twist.  It was the continuation of the Harmonizer Jack-in-the-Box routine for the first half, but this time “Jack” had to cope with a Russian operative and his “helpers” who were trying to steal the secret of Christmas.  Terry Reynolds was the usual fun and over excited “Jack,” Troy Hillier was “Boris Badenove” and Noah Van Gilder was the “Fearless Leader” who came to check on the work of Boris and his men!  The “bodyguards” for Boris were our own a cappella group TBD who sang on the show, and included associate director, Tony Colosimo, who was often  “volunteered” to portray Natasha, Boris’s lovely wife.

The chorus was dressed as elves or toys for the first half as they were helping “Jack” conduct a guided tour of the North Pole and Santa’s workshop for the Russians. And as you can imagine, the jokes were pretty bad but got lots of laughs none-the-less.

Director Joe Cerutti was Junior, the Music Elf again and was a happy elf with the chorus’s great singing of the songs. At one point, “Jack” needed to use “captions” to explain something to the contingent from Russia – so he had silent Monks come diagram the words for “Hallelujah Chorus”  -- a very fun and audience-pleasing routine that we have done in the past.

For the second half of the show, the chorus was in red, green or blue sweatshirts with white scarves.  Songs for this portion of the show featured more sacred holiday selections, including soloist Brad Jones for the opening song “Let All Mortal Flesh,” and a trio of Drew Fuller, Frank Fedarko and Mike Kelly who were featured in our always crowd-pleasing closing number “Do You Hear What I Hear.”

Guest quartet for the show was BETTER TOGETHER with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens.  They sang a set to start the second half.  At the end of their set, they sang about the meaning of Christmas, and their little children came onto the stage to join them.

TBD sang a Hanukkah song as part of their set in the second half of the show with Jacob Broude, Troy Hillier, Terry Reynolds, Connor Goss, Brian Ammerman, Josh Roots, Kellen Hertz, Nick Leiserson, Noah Van Gilder, Clark Chesser, Josh DesPortes, and Jeff Burkey.

We continued our long tradition of holding a Put Together Quartet contest at the December 11th chapter meeting. Matt Doniger was coordinator.  There were 12 quartet entries.  Joe Cerutti Sr.  was emcee.  Judges were all past chapter presidents – Bob Wells, Brad Jones, and Mick Stamps.  Contest score keeper was Jack Pitzer.  There were first, second or third place trophies for comedy and regular quartet contestants.
Also in December we continued the tradition of singing holiday music in restaurants all around Old Town Alexandria for our annual “Carol Crawl.” We did an impromptu mini-concert on the steps of the Torpedo Factory and then ended the night with an afterglow at Chadwick’s, our last stop.
A mini chorus sang at a several senior citizen or health complex facilities in the Alexandria area on December 15 as part of a holiday community service effort coordinated by Clyde Crusenberry. We held our traditional Heat Glow at the home of Pat and Jack Pitzer as our last event for the year.
Membership at the end of the year was 200.  Five current members died in 2018 – Dick (and Carolyn) Hall, Austin Cotton, Jack McKendree, Rob Nutt, and Alan Kousen.  The chapter changed the name of our Spirit of Harmony Award to the Dick Hall Spirit of Harmony Award.  Former members Dick Bodle, Tommy Morris, and Don O’Connor also died this year.
A final note: during our 70th year the Harmonizers launched an ambitious fundraising campaign, “70 for 70,” with a goal of raising $70,000 dollars during the year. When our final year-end fundraising was tallied, we had exceeded our goal! Our final efforts during the holiday season were greatly assisted by a very generous matching grant from Bill and Charli Sowers.
(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 that happened during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd