Thursday, January 23, 2020

Looking Back on Harmonizers at the 2020 Midwinter Convention
Midwinter 2020 was held in Downtown Jacksonville at the Hyatt Regency on the St. Johns River.  The performance venue was the historic Florida Theater, dating from the 1920s located just a couple of blocks from the hotel.  The weather was fabulous with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the convention.  The Harmonizers were well represented with members singing in two seniors quartets and two seniors choruses.  There were shows on both Thursday and Saturday evenings featuring the top five BHS quartets, SAI Rising Star quartet DULY NOTED, Harmony Inc.’s 2018 queens AGED TO PERFECTION, and 2019 Youth Quartet champions WILDFIRE, and capping off the Saturday show were the Four Freshmen.

Terry Reynolds was in Jacksonville early to work with the Leadership Forum, which was held before the Midwinter convention.  Early arrivers also included John Santora (BHS
Treasurer) and Chris Buechler (SCJC meetings and on judging panel).  BHS staff member Joe Cerutti was busy all week and served as presenter for the Junior Varsity quartet contest on Thursday.  Bob Eckman attended the District Presidents meetings.  Rick Taylor was working with Harmony Foundation (HFI) staff.  Ross Johnson and his wife Susan Williams were sponsors for the NextGen Youth Chorus contest and presented awards.

Competing were John Adams (Carolinas District Seniors Chorus and also sang with AISCQ chorus), Keith Jones and Bob Thames (Sunshine District Seniors Chorus), Mike Kelly (PERSUASION seniors quartet placing 8th), and Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, and Steve Murane (SILVER ALERT seniors quartet placing 20th).  Cy Wood directed a youth chorus from Ohio.

Other Harmonizers in attendance included Bill Colosimo, Sam McFarland, Tom Gannon, Eddie Allen, and Bede Bender.

Members of the Harmonizer family (former members and others) included Paul Wietlisbach (Dixie District President and sang in a seniors quartet and chorus), Sean Devine (working with HFI), Gary Plaag (HFI board ), Steve Tramack (SCJC meeting and judging panel), Jay Butterfield (judging panel), John Rettenmeyer (Evergeeen District President), Alan Lamson, Bob Hirsh, and Drew Ellis.  Sheryl Berlin (Youth Festival Coordinator) and Dixie Kennett also attended.  (Thanks to Dixie for preparing this report for YeEd.)

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 2021 Midwinter in New York City!

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

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Looking Back on the Jan 14th, 2020 Chapter Meeting

Looking Back on the Jan 14th, 2020 Chapter Meeting
This was our first meeting of 2020.  Guys were ready to get back to chorus. 
Associate director Tony Colosimo did a warm up session and then director Joe Cerutti got the rehearsal started.
His opening remarks included congrats to our chapter quartets – SILVER ALERT and PERSUASION -  that competed in the senior quartet contest at the Mid-Winter convention in Jacksonville, FL, recently.  (Stay tuned for a Looking Back report from that event.)
Joe reports that our coach and arranger friend, Steve Tramack, is home and resting after an allergy scare in Jacksonville.
And then to get the music started, Joe did a quick run of the five songs the chorus will sing when we host the Whiffenpoofs on Feb. 7th.
The announcement period started with Mike Kelly recognizing Dave Welter as the newest Harmonizer to be elected to the district Honor Club.
Our next big event is the 46th Annual Alexandria Harmonizers Presidents' Banquet,  Saturday, February 1st, 6:15 -10pm at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St, Alexandria VA (Note - this is where we held the 2019 President's Banquet).  

Cocktail hour begins at 6:15, dinner served at 7, and the program will begin at 8, including installation of our 2020 BHS Chapter Officers, followed by the presentation of the Chapter's 2019 Chapter Distinguished Service awards.  

Tickets are $30 per person. Dave Branstetter will be selling tickets before and after rehearsals and during break.

Dinner will be catered by Maggianos - so think Italian!  Dinner will include salad, desert, soft drinks, water, coffee and tea, beer and wine.   Plus, in honor of our 2019 trip to Scotland, we are bringing back a "tasting table" of scotches and some selected bourbons!  There is plenty of free parking.  Dress code is dressy casual.

We will also enjoy a couple songs from our Harmonizer quartet, SILVER ALERT and conclude the evening with dancing to the music of Riptide, the classic rock cover band that includes Harmonizers: Chris Huber, Joel Golden, Kellen Hertz, and Joe Cerutti, Sr. 

Another event coming up soon – Singing Valentines –when the chapter sends quartets to appear around the DC Metro area such as for the Alexandria Mayor and for retirement homes.  Members who are interested in being in one of the quartets to represent our chapter on at various times during the Feb. 14th weekend should contact Terry Reynolds right away.
Finally, our next Put Together Quartet Contest is set for Feb. 11th.  Matt Doniger is organizing another fun contest.  Quartets should start forming soon for either of the two categories  - regular or comedy, and should let Matt know the quartet name and the members singing in it.
After announcements, the leaders of the BHS Alexandria Harmonizers and its sister organization, AH Inc. presented a kick off session for the coming year.  It was reported that the chapter has purchased a new Harmo truck, and that financially we are making headway on improving our income and financial program. A complete year-in-review will be presented as part of the Presidents’ Banquet printed program and then released as a Looking Back report.
Members of the AH Inc. board present for this kick off session included president Bruce Reahm, secretary Bob Faherty, plus Terry Reynolds, Chuck Hunter, Marie Muscella, Dave Kohls, along with current and past BHS chapter presidents.
Dave Kohls shared results from recent show customer surveys and Maria Muscella spoke about the continuing efforts in strategic planning to include an effort to measure our progress quantitatively as well as qualitatively.
There are plans to work toward competition at the Cleveland International in 2021.
The first board 2020 board meeting with new president Stan Quick was held before the chapter meeting at SRT. Secretary is Chris Buechler, Treasurer is Al Herman, past president is Shawn Tallant, and at large board members are now Ben Watsky, Clyde Crusenberry, and Frank Shipp.
The major part of the work to manage the chapter these days comes from an Operations Team (changes since last year are marked with an *): executive director, Randall Eliason; membership director, Jacob Broude*; contest director, Nick Murane*; BHS Finance director, Dave Welter; AH Finance Director, Carl Kauffmann; artistic director, Joe Cerutti, Jr.; communications director, Steve Murane; director of shows, Joe Cerutti Sr.; Operations Director, Gary Cregan*; development director, Nick Leiserson*; education director, Sheryl Berlin; volunteer activities director, Robyn Murane; and archivist/historian, Jack Pitzer*.
The second half of this week’s meeting was a thorough presentation by the music team for 2020. This information was emailed to all members and included a complete list of shows and events for the coming year.
Section leaders for the year ahead are Brian Ammermann for tenors, Reed Livergood for leads, Jason Lee for baritones, and Ryan Mextorf for basses.
The plan to conduct individual interviews with each member was launched this week too.
Joe was excited to announce new songs for 2020 which includes  a return of the “Chorus Line Medley” and the addition of “Something’s Comin” from West Side Story, and more.  He even released song lists for the holiday shows next year.
The list of coaches lined up for the chorus included all familiar names – Steve Scott, Cy Wood, David Wright, Cindy Hansen, and Kevin Keller.
The final info from the music team was a rollout of a flexible rehearsal pilot plan for seven weeks. “The pilot is an alternative rehearsal approach for learning, coaching, and rehearsing Harmonizer music across a variety of forums and mediums/platforms that supports multiple learning styles. This pilot will utilize best practices, available technology, and experimental techniques for singers of all generations and abilities.” Here again, this info was emailed to all members.
Before adjourning on Tuesday, we bid farewell to Craig Kujawa who is off to a military assignment for a couple years. He will be missed in the front row, missed as a stage presence teacher, and missed as conventions chairman.  We sang “ A Place on the Risers for You” as is our tradition.
Before Craig left the DC area, he submitted a year-end report of Scrip earnings by the chapter for 2019.  A total of 22 participants earned a combined total of $1,617.55 for the chapter, which is nearly exactly the average of the prior 4 years. The top earning members were Chuck Hunter ($107.75), TJ Jones ($120.00), Carl Kauffmann ($168.00), Ken Ives ($252.25), Craig Kujawa ($311.95), and the 2019 Scrip Champion is Randall Eliason ($394.75).
Lastly, after about 4-5 years at the helm, Craig turned over management of the scrip program within the chapter to Ken Ives.
In other January news, this year’s Heat Glow at Jack and Pat Pitzer’s home on Sat. Jan. 4th was a great social event for the Harmonizer family. Everyone was welcome to attend with their significant other so the holiday decorated house was jammed full of folks.  Everyone brought goodies to share, so all tables and counters were covered with great treats.  There was some tag singing and there was the annual batch of holiday grog served. The nite was a great chance for some of the new guys to get to know more members and to share holiday stories.

The Heat Glow was started more than 50 years ago as a party for the Harmonizer family after the chorus sang at the annual Burning of the Greens in Alexandria.  The city would collect all the Christmas trees from around town and pile them high for a huge fire – sort of the opposite of a tree lighting event these days. The party has continued for all these years at different homes.

In other news, there were a good number of Harmonizer folks at the annual BLAST hosted by the Dundalk Chapter on Monday, Dec. 30th. Sam McFarland reports seeing Mike Kelly, Matt Doniger, Rick Taylor, Tim Buell, Chris Yates, Bob Hirsh, and Geoff Berman. Several of those men sang in quartets as part of the program – there was no contest this year. So quartets sang to entertain.

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