Friday, August 23, 2019

Looking Back on the August 20th Chapter Meeting

The big chorus was back on the risers this week and were mostly rested after the trip to Scotland (a good number of men took the extension trip and are only back a few days). 

Before the meeting a crew of guys headed by operations guy Gary Cregan with help from Matt Doniger, Mike Fasano and others marked off the floor to indicate where the platforms will be on the stage for the fall show.  When guys arrived they were encouraged to check the chorus layout board to confirm where they will stand for the show.  It was pointed out that for the show, those platforms will be various heights and thus it will be lots easier to see the directors.

Associate director Tony Colosimo did a great warm up session and then director Joe Cerutti took over directing (he had gone up into the higher theater seats at Scottish Rite Temple so the guys could see him better).

Joe encouraged all members (active singers and any other members) to come to Dog Days next Tuesday nite, Tuesday, Aug. 27th.  This is the annual event when Harmonizers join the other area barbershop choruses at the dog-days-of-summer event hosted by the Manassas Chapter.  Guests and new members are for sure encouraged to join us.  And many members will bring family to enjoy the performances – including our Harmonizer portion.  There are refreshments and this year – a time to mix and mingle and get to meet fellow barbershoppers. The event will be at Sacred Heart Catholic Church again – 12975 Purcell Rd., Manassas 20112.   It’s not too early to organize a car pool, make arrangements for a ride from a Metro stop, or to plan a dinner stop en route (some of us gather at Famous Dave’s BBQ on the Prince William Parkway about 5.).  Join us.   And if you can’t get there by 7, come anyway, as we sing last on the program. Everyone wear their Harmo name tag too. And Joe says to come warmed up – we won’t be practicing on site. The chorus will sing several of the fall show songs – “Impossible Dream,” “Anything Goes,” “Bright Side of Life,” “For Good,” and “Circle of Life.”

Joe also reported that the songs for the holiday shows are posted on Groupanizer. The songs were chosen by a committee of Steve White, Chuck Powell, Troy Hillier, and Ben Watsky. There will be two holiday shows for the Harmonizers and each will have different guest artists. The first one will be at Strathmore on Nov. 30th at 4pm, with VOCAL SPECTRUM and a youth chorus directed by Sandra Zinkievich. The second will be at Schlesinger on Sat. Dec. 21st at 4pm with PRATT STREET POWER and the youth quartet QUIN-TONES from NJ.

Our fall show is Sept. 14th at Schlesinger at 4 pm.  We really need to get serious about selling tickets.  Guest artists for this show are INSTANT CLASSIC and GQ quartets. With the chorus performing so well, it would be shame if the house is only partially full. Dean Sherick has tickets.  (Consignment tickets need to be turned in Tues. before the show.)  Matt Doniger is the new contact for producing a printed program – there is still time to get in another ad that you might sell.  Contact Matt or Krissi Folsom. Dress rehearsal for the fall show is on Sept. 12th at 7pm at Schlesinger. Uniform for this show will be the blue suit – anyone who needs any part of that uniform should contact Robyn Murane.

The chorus will be participating in Arts on the Avenue on Oct. 5th.  We sing from 1-1:45 pm on the Gabriel Concert Band Stage at the Mt. Vernon Rec Center soccer field.

That same weekend is the M-AD fall chorus and quartet contest in Reading, PA.  Many of us will attend that event to support other choruses and our own quartets that qualified to compete there. We have guys singing in six quartets this year – BREAKFAST BLEND with Geipel and Beach; MISS OTIS REGRETS with Sengco, Haedtler, Leyen and Rub; QUIRKS OF ART with Bob Wilson and Mike Wallen; SILVER ALERT with Savage, Edison, Cox, and Murane; TAYLOR MADE with Rick Taylor; and THE UNION with Pookie Dingle and Mike Pinto.

Robyn Murane has assumed duties as Volunteer Coordinator and is looking for helpers from the Harmonizer family to fill several jobs for the fall and holiday shows.

Show chairman Joe Cerutti Sr. is looking for a volunteer to pick up our guest quartets for the Sept. show. Quartets are arriving at National Airport on Friday, Sept. 13th in the evening. Speak to Joe Sr. if you can help.

He also explained the extra benefits for those who purchase Premier Tickets for the fall show – bling and good seats too!  There are plenty of flyers for all members to use in selling tickets.

Finally he shared the news about a discount plan for folks who buy a holiday show ticket at the fall show.
President Shawn Tallant reminded chapter leaders about the combined board meeting on Sat. Aug. 24th in Liz Birnbaum’s office for our two chapter boards.

Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewals to Turner Arndt for 6 years; Kellen Hertz for 11 years; Noah Van Gilder for 11 years; Randall Eliason for 24 years; and Jack Pitzer for 54 years.

Ben Watsky welcomed two guests for this week – Chris who heard us at the Whiffenpoofs show and Jake who sang barbershop in Kansas City and is in DC waiting for his job assignment.

This week’s chapter meeting was held in the cafeteria with summer refreshments - lots of watermelon and lemonade.  (Thanks to Jim Kirkland, Jack Pitzer, Gary Cregan, Joe and Janet Cerutti for set up and clean up.) 

Then we celebrated the wonderful follow up for the trip to Scotland.  Director Joe kicked off the reports with some fun stories he had heard as well as a letter from a town leader in Dundee. Several men shared stories as well to include audience reactions, emotions shared, and funny events or moments experienced.
Joe thanked a number of teams of guys who made the shows on the trip so successful – speakers/emcees; script writers; soloists; bus crews; and uniform helpers. Joe declared Brad Jones the Hero of the Trip which prompted a standing ovation and applause from his fellow Harmonizers. President Shawn read a thank you letter from the president of the Cottontown Chorus in UK.  We gave them each a Harmonizer logo lapel pin.

After the celebration, it was back to work on the fall show music.

The work took us right up to our 10 pm closing. A crew of guys helped Operations chairman Gary Cretan to move all of our property back stage this week.

Another good crowd adjourned to Ramparts for the afterglow and even some tag 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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Looking Back on the August 2019 Trip To Scotland and England

(Many thanks to reporter Liz Birnbaum for preparing this report of the trip. YeEd)

The Alexandria Harmonizers enjoyed a successful tour of the United Kingdom from Aug. 5 through Aug. 12, bringing their new “Circle of Life” repertoire to northern England and Scotland.

Many members of the chorus gathered at Dulles Airport on the evening of Aug. 5, and flew together to London, where they landed on Aug. 6.  This group enjoyed a brief tour of London before meeting up with other chorus members at the Belgo Restaurant.  Following lunch, the Harmonizers delivered a rousing version of the “Harmonizer Welcome Song,” which was warmly received by the servers and other patrons.  After a further bus tour around the city, the Harmonizers arrived at the Park Plaza London Riverbank Hotel, where they connected with the remaining members of the tour.  Director Joe Cerutti held a brief chorus meeting at 6:00 pm, and then the members of the front row rehearsed at 7:00 pm while others scattered to various corners of the city for dinner.

By the morning of the 7th, almost all participants in the trip had arrived, and the group headed out on three buses, aiming for Stockport, England.  In addition to current chorus members, friends and family, the Harmonizers were joined by former singers Michael Gilmore, Dave Reyno and Kevin Kaiser.  Mike Fasano had rejoined the chorus for this tour, and brought his family along as well.

On the way to Stockport, the chorus stopped in Coventry for lunch and a tour of the Coventry Cathedral, and in Liverpool for a tour of the Beatles Museum.  One busload of Harmonizers paused at the statue of the Beatles along the Liverpool riverfront and delivered a flash-mob rendition of “All You Need Is Love,” to the delight of passers-by.  Upon arrival in Stockport, the final member of the tour joined the group – Harmonizer Greg Tepe, who has been living in Ireland and recently moved to Amsterdam, but joined the tour to act as backstage producer for the Harmonizers’ three concerts.

August 8 opened with the chorus’s first view of their Stockport performance venue – the Stockport town hall.  Though just a local town hall, the building holds a dramatic “Edwardian ballroom” with a decorated arched ceiling, providing a beautiful venue for the Harmonizers’ concert.  The morning was occupied with rehearsals for the evening’s performance.  After a break, the Harmonizers reassembled for an afternoon “master class” on vocal production and chorus rehearsal practices, conducted by director Joe Cerutti and associate director Tony Colosimo.  The class was attended by several members of the Cottontown Chorus, the current British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) gold medal chorus, as well as other interested local citizens.

After a brief break for dinner, the chorus warmed up and rehearsed with the Cottontown Chorus, with whom they shared the stage at the concert.  The Cottontown Chorus performed the first half of the 7:00 pm concert, and demonstrated the quality that has won them several BABS gold medals.  After intermission, the Harmonizers took the stage, and delivered the entire “Circle of Life” show in a fashion that justified their international reputation.  As a send-off for the evening, the two choruses came together on the risers to sing “I’m the Music Man.”

On August 9, the group again hit the road for a rainy bus ride to Alexandria’s sister city, Dundee, Scotland.  After an early dinner at the Apex Hotel in Dundee, the chorus transferred to the performance venue, an auditorium at Dundee and Angus College.  The first half of the 7:00 pm show was presented by four local talents, including girls’ Irish step dancing troupe, two singers, and a Gaelic folk chorus.  After the intermission, the Harmonizers took the stage and again demonstrated their international-medal-winning form.  Following the concert, Harmonizer BHS chapter president Shawn Tallant presented the Lord Provost (mayor) of Dundee with a proclamation from the Mayor of Alexandria proclaiming August 9, 2019 to be “Alexandria-Dundee Kinship Day.”  At a reception afterward, local dignitaries thanked Harmonizer leadership for the performance, indicating that it had far exceeded anything they had seen previously on the local stage.

The day ended with a quick bus ride to Edinburgh, where the Harmonizers checked into the Moxy Hotel by the airport and took their well-earned rest.  On August 10, the Harmonizers were again up early, this time to take a tour of the Edinburgh Castle and enjoy some free time at Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival before meeting to prepare for their evening performance at St. Giles Cathedral.  The chorus gathered in the cathedral at 6:00 pm to warm up and evaluate both acoustics and performance space in this 1000-year-old venue.  The cathedral provided a beautiful sounding board for the chorus’s harmonies.

At 7:00 pm the doors opened, and a crowd of Fringe Festival attendees filled the cathedral.  The 7:30 pm “Circle of Life” concert delighted the audience, who gave a standing ovation and demanded an encore from the chorus.  Once again, the Harmonizers supplied “I’m the Music Man” to a rousing ovation.  Following the show, many Harmonizers, as well as family and friends, attended the famed Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
August 11 offered the Harmonizers a final free day for exploring the Fringe Festival, ending with a togetherness dinner at the Ghillie Dhu restaurant, set in a converted Edinburgh church.  The acoustics of the venue proved too tempting to resist, so before dinner director Joe Cerutti led the men in a rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”  After dinner, a small band provided Gaelic music as well as modern songs, and taught the chorus and friends a number of folk dances.  The evening ended with the chorus spontaneously declaring their identity with “I’m the Music Man” while assembling for a group photo.

On August 12, the group split, with most participants returning home on various flights while a smaller group set off on a 3-day tour extension to see more of Scotland and visit the Isle of Skye.

Congratulations to Brad Jones and his team for organizing this successful and enjoyable trip for the Alexandria Harmonizers!

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