Friday, February 7, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb 4th, 2020 Chapter Meeting
This was the fourth week into the new Harmonizer rehearsal variation pilot plan – this week was labeled “Full Chorus Rehearsal.” We met at Scottish Rite Temple  and were able to use the entire building since heat system was working again.       
There was the usual warm up time with singers on the risers.  Then director Joe Cerutti welcomed special guest and former member, Sean Devine, who came down from Hershey PA, to see all his friends in the chapter and speak briefly about Harmony Foundation. 
Following that, Joe explained the plans for tonite (including that coach Cy Wood was unable to make the trip this week as previously announced).
The first major period of chorus time was on the risers to review visual performance plans for show songs.  The chorus was facing a screen where Mike Kelly was able to project videos of the songs in mirror image, as well as able to slow down the tempo so singers could see the moves better.  As they improved on the moves, he was able to increase back to normal temp.
It was a effective review technique and a great help for brand new members.  Joe first worked on “Circle of Life” – the African chant portion.  Then he moved on to “Heart and Music” and finally to “Brotherhood of Man.”  Following the mirror screen work, associate director Tony Colosimo directed the songs that will be sung by the chorus for the Whiffenpoofs show on Fri. Feb. 7th. Bob Blair added rhythm to “Heart and Music,” Jon Frank sang the solo in “For Good,” and Ben Roberts sang the solo for “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”
Joe also explained how members could use the new rehearsal plan to finish work on “42nd Street” or could move on to “Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Members have a variety of options in this regard. In the end, the chorus will not sing the two new songs until Feb. 25th and then only those approved by the music team will be invited to the risers for that run thru.  (In other words, singers should be working to get an approval with their listeners or at least know where they stand in that regard.)
Joe also confirmed the chapter’s plan to compete at the Southern Division contest in Baltimore (Crowne Plaza Inner Harbor).  The quartet contest is on Fri eve June 5th and the chorus contest is Sat morning, June 6th.  The plan is to sing “42nd Street” with choreo from Cy Wood, plus a surprise ballad.
Joe spoke about the Harmony University plans this summer so that guys could start finalizing their registration and travel to Nashville.
Finally he outlined the plans for the rest of this week’s meeting after the announcements.  The second half of the nite will be four optional sessions – each of them offered twice.  So guys could attend any they wanted – even go to the same one twice.
Options included (1) singing Polecat songs, (2) learning about Harmonizer history from videos of past performances, (3) technology and apps to use to be better singers, or (4) practicing with your quartet for the upcoming chapter quartet contest.
Communications director Steve Murane managed the announcement period for this week. He started with some details about the Whiffenpoof show for Friday.  The uniform will be the black casual camp shirt and jeans. Chorus call time is 6 pm.  A riser crew was solicited. Non members and guests are welcome to attend. Tickets are $30.
The 46th annual Put Together Quartet Contest will be held during the second half of the Feb 11th meeting.  A surprise judging team will chose winners of comedy quartets or regular quartets. Each quartet only sings one song.  There are some rules – mostly about singers who have won district  or such that must sing a different part. Matt Doniger is Dr. Put (as is the custom, he has put several men together that wanted to be in a quartet) and has the rules if you wanna know.  He tells YeEd that quartets who don’t provide a quartet name may be surprised! There will be refreshments that nite too!
Don Thompson met with guys who had requested shirts from the Scotland trip.
Sean Devine shared about some news about giving to the Harmony Foundation.  (Recently the Foundation released info that the Alexandria Chapter ranks 34th among all BHS chapters in the first quarter for our giving – 191 average members, 68 of them made contributions which is 36%.)
President Stan Quick announced that long-time member Jerry Kindred died a few weeks ago while in Home Hospice.  He most recently had been also singing with the Harmony Heritage Singers.
Stan also suggested that members of the chapter are encouraged to submit award applications for the BHS Gala Awards for outstanding member, outstanding ensemble, innovator, or ambassador. Any member may submit a form (available from BHS website).
Stan shared how he and past president Shawn Tallant told Craig Kujawa about his having been named winner of the Memorial Award at the banquet last Saturday.  The video made by Mike Kelly was sent to Craig on Sunday and he responded about his surprise and pride at having been considered for the award (our highest personal award given in the chapter).
Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Jon Frank for 4 years and Adam Afifi for 5 years.  Chris reports he also has mailed cards to Keith Jones for 42 years, Jorge Acevedo for 20 years, Kris Zinkievich for 20 years, and Dale Bird for 13 years. These member live outside the DC area.
Membership director Jacob Broude welcomed Michael Breckson for his second visit to the chorus.
Last week, Randall announced that BETTER TOGETHER, a mixed quartet with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens, will be competing at the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweeps A Cappella Festival on Sat. Feb. 22 at the Birchmere starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets are going fast, and are available online now at Ticketmaster.  All seats are General Admission, first come-first seated.  The competition is always intense but having a house full of fans always makes a positive impression on the judges! Besides – those of us who have gone in other years will confess it is a fun nite for all who attend. The Birchmere is at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria 22315.
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 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb. 1st, 2020 Presidents’ Award Banquet and Board Installation

This year’s Presidents’ Award Banquet was at the Lee Center on Saturday nite, Feb. 1st .  This was our 46th such event. Over 120 of the Harmonizer family attended the buffet banquet catered by Maggiano’s. 

Our 2019 chapter president Shawn Tallant served as master of ceremonies for this annual event to celebrate our achievements for the past year, honor some of those who helped make those achievements possible, and install our 2020 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.  

After the meal, Shawn 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 of our 2019 trip to Scotland. He also thanked all the family members who helped with the set up for the event, decorated tables and brought supplies for the meal.

Before too much program began, SILVER ALERT with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox and Steve Murane, sang for us.  The really “ugly” sweater from their appearance at the holiday show managed to find its way to the banquet and the cheering crowd made Mike wear it again.

Each year this event is hosted by the past presidents of the chapter – thus the name Presidents’ banquet.  Presidents attending this year included Shawn Tallant, 2018-2019; Randall Eliason, 2016-17;Terry Reynolds, 2014-15; Alan Wile, 2013, 2007, and 1997-98; Steve Murane, 2011-12; Brad Jones, 2009;; 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 the member added to our Memorial Roll in 2019: Mike Everard. Former members Justin “Sunny” Shook, and Arthur Louis also died during the year.

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, treasurer Terry Reynolds; board members Chuck Hunter, Dave Kohls, and Marie Muscella (not present). Shawn Tallant serves as past president of the BHS chapter, and Stan Quick serves as current BHS president on the AH Inc. board.

Shawn shared. “2019 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 “Looking Back on the 2019 Harmonizers Events and Milestones.”]

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 2020 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:  Nick Murane, Education Director:  Sheryl Berlin, Development Director: Nick Leiserson, Membership Director:  Jacob Broude, Shows Director:  Joe Cerutti, Sr., Operations Director:  Gary Cregan, and Historian: Jack Pitzer.

The chapter invited Bob Eckman (and his wife Maggie), a Harmonizer and current president of Mid-Atlantic District (M-AD), to install our 2020 board: President – Stan Quick, Secretary – Chris Buechler, Treasurer – Al Herman, Members at Large –Clyde Crusenberry, Ben Watsky and Frank Shipp, and Immediate Past President – Shawn Tallant.

About this point in the night, BETTER TOGETHER with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens sang for us.

Shawn used his presidential prerogative to present Meritorious Service Awards for exceptional service to the chapter. 

This first award was presented to Krissi Folsom and Rob Langston. For the past three years they have stepped up and volunteered for every Harmonizer show.  Rob has taken professional photographs for the chapter. Krissi has handled our show programs and recently joined the social media marketing team. Both served as co-producers for the annual show celebrating our 70th anniversary. 

The second recipient was Martin Banks. During his many years as a Harmonizer, he filled many leadership positions such as vice president for community service or marketing/public relations. Most recently Martin was chapter historian/archivist creating informative historical displays for many chapter events.  He also organized the history committee operation with specific duties assigned to each member. He also initiated the process to digitize, record and organize historical materials the chapter has in its collection.  Martin also served in leadership positions outside the chapter for the BHS public relations organization – PROBE, and he earned a Society-wide Public Relations Officer of the Year award.

The third recipient was Robyn Murane. She is a volunteer leader as exemplified by her work as chapter uniform officer.  She has created a uniform inventory, implemented the new chapter uniform policy, and reduced the amount of storage for old costumes and uniform parts.  She has also become the volunteer coordinator for the chapter and helps organize and wrangle volunteers for shows to staff the lobby, manage sales, and help customers.

The fourth recipient was Dean Rust. On the community front, Dean has contacted many Alexandria businesses to request their support for the Harmonizer programs. His outreach contributed to our alliance with the Alexandria Sister City Committee and our performance in Dundee Scotland. He has also led our outreach to veterans that might benefit from our music. Additionally he has spent countless hours identifying grant opportunities for the Harmonizers to obtain outside funding.  His work includes putting together complete applications for several grants and he is personally responsible for all dollars in grant funding the chapter has received since 2016.

The fifth award was presented to Dixie Kennett and Chris Buechler who are preparing to step down from their current positions. Dixie has been a volunteer for many aspects of chapter shows, particularly lighting. She serves as a member of the membership support team and regularly takes attendance at meetings. Chris is a past president and is currently completing his record-setting term of 25 years as our BHS chapter secretary.  He also has made important contributions to the contest and judging program of the BHS around the nation..

Next Shawn honored these recipients of the six chapter memorial awards given each year and 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. 

2019 recipient – Jacob Broude  Since coming to the chapter, this new member has been a strong singer/performer on the risers and in the front row, has sung with TBD and helped train some of us “old guys” in some of the complex choreo for the fall show. He recently has assumed the duties of Membership Director on the Ops Team.

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.

2019 recipient – Walt Page – He was a member of the performing chorus for about 25 years, and was a long-time quartet member with RIVERSIDE ASSEMBLY. Stepping away a few years ago, he returned as a member about five years ago in a non-singing role. He is always present at chapter meetings, helps promote the 50/50 sales, and is a major show ticket salesman. Most recently he has leveraged his community contacts to ensure the Harmonizers have been prominent in local newspaper coverage.

Harmonizer Honor Award
Given to a Harmonizer for service which is specifically  above and beyond the usual service expected of members during the past year. 

2019 recipient – Gary Cregan This relatively new member can always be counted on to do whatever needs to be done for the chapter. He has added his energy to the tasks of the chapter’s director of operation including significant improvements in riser maintenance, inventory management and most recently pushed for and acquired  the replacement of the Harmo truck.

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 team can be a Harmonizer and any family member or significant other.

2019 recipient –  Jerri and Steve White.  He is a 40-year-plus member, a strong bass singer forever on the front row, and a member of multiple champion quartets. He was a major contributor to chapter shows.  In recent years he has prepared an extensive top-notch chapter annual report. Jerri is also a barbershop singer and has supported the chapter in many ways over the years.  She appeared in several annual shows, reviewed and helped Steve with over a dozen annual show scripts.  She has been stage manager for the chapter, has made props and uniforms for shows and contests, and volunteered at our youth harmony events. 

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 year. 

2019 recipient – Jason Lee this year’s recipient is an active member of the music team and advisor to the music leadership. He stepped into the baritone section leader position this year He also helps with chapter warm ups, and has worked with the music team on the current re-envisioning of our rehearsal process to make it more responsive to the needs of members. 

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

2019 – Craig Kujawa 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.

In past years, he has served on the BHS chapter board. As contest director on the Ops Team, Craig has ensured the Harmonizers were prepared to compete at all levels of competition for the past six years. His thorough planning efforts and communication to the members make it possible for all members to get tickets, rooms, make transportation plans.  He also helped the music team schedule convention rehearsal spaces.  He created two successful programs to get members into better physical shape prior to International contests. He also was chapter SCRIP salesman as he believed members could help raise funds for the chapter when they buy or shop. As a chorus performer, he was front row captain.

Captain Kujawa has just deployed to Djibouti for a year of service.  Bruce Roehm accepted on his behalf. President Shawn had Mike Kelly film this part of the ceremony and that video was relayed to Craig the next day and surprised him at his new duty station. 

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 71st  year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Monday, February 3, 2020

Looking Back on the 2019 Harmonizers Events and Milestones
We began our 2019 year with the Presidents’ Award Banquet and board installation on February 16th at Lee Center in Alexandria.   The banquet was the 45th such event. Over 100 of the Harmonizer family attended the tasty buffet banquet catered by Maggiano’s.  

The 2018 chapter president Shawn Tallant served as master of ceremonies for the annual event to celebrate achievements for the past year, honor some of those who helped make them possible, and install the 2019 officers and board.

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.”

The chapter invited Glenn Phillips, M-AD vice president of Music and Performance, to install a 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.

Leaders of the 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.
Currently 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.

It’s no surprise that there were a lot of Harmonizers present at the 2019 BHS Midwinter Convention in Nashville, January 22-27, 2019. As you would expect current and former Harmonizers were busy providing service for many aspects of the convention, such as serving on the judging panel; attending meetings (Society Board and the Contest & Judging Committee); teaching classes, and competing in quartet and chorus contest events.

Next Generation Junior Chorus Sponsors from our chapter were Darryl and Meredith Flinn, and Ross Johnson and his wife Susan Williams. District Presidents Council was attended by Bob Eckman.

Junior Chorus Festival Plateau AA Winner with an Outstanding Rating was A CAPPELLA!  - a mixed harmony chorus from James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring, MD--directed by Sandra (Mrs. Kris) Zinkievich!  Her students have attended many Alexandria Youth in Harmony camps and they were featured in our December 2019 show at Strathmore.


On Saturday afternoon, February 9th, the chapter presented The Yale Whiffenpoofs – nationally known as the oldest collegiate a cappella group.  Fifty men of 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.

Singing Valentines

The Singing Valentines program continued the practice of sending quartets to make free Valentine appearances in Alexandria, in the Del Ray region, and in other Northern Virginia locations such as at senior centers, adult recreation centers, and restaurants, as well as for the Mayor of Alexandria. Four quartets made appearances as assigned by the chapter for public relations and community relations efforts.
New Zealand Tribute
The Alexandria Harmonizers joined forces with the Alexandria Singers to host Vocal Collective from Christchurch, New Zealand, in a concert Wednesday, March 20th, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  The sellout crowd filled the auditorium in the Memorial as a tribute and in support of the victims of the shooting violence that had happened just days before in Christchurch. Vocal Collective was 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
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. The chorus wore their black camp shirts. 
Our contemporary a cappella group, TBD – Jacob Broude, Josh Roots, Troy Hillier, Nick Leiserson, Noah Van Gilder, Connor Goss, Terry Reynolds, Clark Chesser, Brian Ammerman, Kellen Hertz, and Jeff  Burkey – sang “Rhythm of Love. ”
During the show, it was announced that the two Alexandria choruses would be giving their share of the show’s profit to the New Zealand support fund  and also that the venue hosts at 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 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!
A barbershop quartet was formed for the concert with David Merriman, tenor;  Ed Dempsey, lead, both barbershop singers from NZ who are in Vocal Collective; Bill Colosimo from the Singers on baritone; 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.
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.
Youth Harmony Festival
A couple things were different this year for the Harmonizer’s 2019 Youth Harmony Festival on Friday April 5th
The location was in the 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 the chapter’s new education director, Sheryl Berlin, made it all happen by contacting music educators in the area far in advance for this Friday event!
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.
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: HOT PURSUIT quartet from the Atlanta, GA, and Cleveland, TN, from SAI; and SIGNATURE quartet from Florida and at that time the 2018 International silver medalist BHS quartet.  Both quartets 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.
As a special surprise, the QUIN-TONES quartet from NJ came down for the day and helped with the men’s youth chorus since they too are still students.
For the evening show, the Harmonizers started things off with songs for the students and their parents. Our own a cappella group, TBD, sang on the show, as did all three of the guest quartets!
The Harmonizers participated in the City of Alexandria’s Spring2ACTion in 2019 and netted $18,958 dollars from fans, family, members, and supporters with a major matching gift from chapter leaders and board members of about $9,000. Major thanks go to chapter executive director Randall Eliason who made it easy for chapter members and their supporters to donate during that day.  He also organized a fun evening at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town where many members and fans gathered to watch the final tally for the day come up online.  We also sang for the guests at the restaurant to thank the restaurant for its contribution.
M-AD Prelims
For the M-AD Prelims contest in Allentown, PA, over the weekend of April 26-27, there were the usual Harmonizer leaders present including Bob Eckman who is current district president and board members Dennis Ritchey, and David Welter.  There are also several of our guys on the district events team including, Welter, Ritchey, Mike and Kristin Kelly, Mike Fasano, and Matt Doniger.
This weekend’s event was a multiple quartet contest session with senior, youth, mixed, and women quartet contests.  One of our new members, Dale Bird, sang in a mixed quartet called FANTASTIC 4 with Susan Shields, Chris Susalka and Heidi Brown, and they were named MAD Mixed Harmony Quartet Champion.  Heidi is the daughter of former Harmonizer Dave Ermlick.
Southern Division

This year’s division contest/convention was at the Crowne Plaza Inner Harbor in Baltimore and there were lots of Harmonizers and former Harmonizers competing in quartets; many singing with other chapters’ choruses; and as usual, many helping run the contest weekend.

The first place quartet was THE NEPTUNERS from Norfolk and Nashville, TN.  Second place was a former collegiate quartet that reformed after a number of years singing in other quartets with former Harmonizer Dan Cook singing bari. 

Our own guys, SILVER ALERT, with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, and Steve Murane placed third. MISS OTIS REGRETS, with Mario Sengco, Jordan Haedtler, Chris Leyen, and Ken Rub placed fourth. 

QUIRKS OF ART, with Bob Wilson, Roger Tarpy, Hardman Jones, and Mike Wallen, placed ninth. BREAKFAST BLEND, with Mike Geipel, Scott Beach, Jerry Candrilli, and Vinny Capaccio, placed eleventh. VOICES IN MY HEAD, with Cavan Potee, Tim Buell, Joe Chilcoat, and Alex Burval, placed thirteenth.

GET IT TOGETHER, with Brian Ammerman, Ben Watsky, Jim Kirkland, and Terry Reynolds, placed fifteenth. SIXTH SENSE, with Aaron Simoneau, Brian Miller, Joe Cerutti, and David DesPortes, placed sixteenth. 

The Virginians from Richmond, won the chorus contest. Besides director Mike Wallen, five other Harmonizers were on the risers – Paul Lensch, Jim McConnell, Bob Wilson, Scott Beach, and Mike Geipel. 

Supreme Court
The Harmonizers made a 10th appearance at the Supreme Court building in DC for The Historical Society for the Supreme Court.  As usual the banquet hall was packed and we had to fit the risers into a small space.  That meant the singers were really singing close together – and director Joe Cerutti was only a couple feet in front of the chorus standing among the banquet guests.  As has been our tradition at this venue, we did no major stage presence. 

For the last number, the entire room was at attention for “Circle of Life” with its first half African chant portion and additional rhythm accompaniment.

Charter Night
The chapter’s history committee helped the celebrate Harmonizer Charter night which was June 29th, 1948 – 19 men signed the charter that night.  (That may be the only night when all members of the chapter were present!) Chairman Martin Banks prepared two interesting displays for all to enjoy during the break.  Jack Pitzer shared stories about some of the founders who many members got to know like Ted Fitch, Henry Brown, Wilbur Schmidt, Gene Barnwell, and Bill Bennett.
Open Mic Night
An open mic night and karaoke event on Sat. evening June 29th at Convergence Lab was great fun! About 50 folks attended from the Alexandria Singers and/or the Harmonizers. It was a relaxing location and there was plenty of food and drink for all singers and family members.  Thanks to Catherine Colosimo from the Singers and Joe Sr. and Janet Cerutti from the Harmonizers who did the leg work to make it happen.
International in Salt Lake City
Amazing numbers of current and former members of the Alexandria Chapter were at the 81st Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) International Convention and Contest in Salt Lake City, UT, June 30-July 7, 2019. The headquarters hotel was Little America where our chapter has stayed before. This year’s Alexandria crowd was there to work and volunteer, attend meetings, cheer for our friends from the M-AD, meet old friends and hang out with each other. The Harmonizers did not compete at this contest as they planned to Europe later in the year.

Rasmus Krigstrum was the only current Harmonizer who sang in the quartet final round – he sang with RAWSUNDAH quartet from Sweden. He arranged our 2018 uptune. Several former members sang in that round too: Sean Devine in THROWBACK, Ed Schubel in PRATT STREET POWER. Dave Ellis in THE HEMIDEMISEMIQUAVER 4 sang in the quarter-final round.

The final results saw SIGNATURE taking the gold with 93.8 percent.  This Sunshine District quartet has been close to our chapter having been with us to spread word to schools in the DC Metro area about our Youth Harmony Festivals. The quartet earned the top score in all three rounds of the contest.  MIDTOWN from MAD garnered fifth place bronze medals.

There were several Harmonizers on the official judging panel this year for both the quartet and chorus contests – Joe Cerutti, Tony Colosimo, Chris Buechler, and former members Jay Butterfield and Richard Lewellen.

The Westminster Chorus from CA won the chorus contest with a record high score of 97.9 percentage singing a song from The Greatest Showman. They sang with 100 men on the risers. Second place was captured by Ambassadors of Harmony and former Harmonizer Jay Sorenson sang with them having moved there not long ago.  Jay had a featured role as Hardy in a Laurel and Hardy vignette so Jay was center stage several times in a “Chaplin Medley” arranged by Harmonizer coach David Wright. The Ambassadors had 125 singers on the risers.

Several of our members taught a Harmony University class during the week including Terry Reynolds, Alan Lamson, and Cy Wood. 

The Saturday night Spectacular Show featured examples of how barbershop singing is a “family” community for all singers.  Rick Taylor set the tone with a witness as how his Dad had brought him to a chapter meeting as a young boy and that started this life in the hobby. Volunteer singers from all over the world formed a group called “The Everyone in Harmony Chorus” to kick off the show’s music.  Cy Wood sang in it as did BHS CEO Marty Monson.  Cy also sang bass in a mixed quartet called HALF AND HALF on that show that preceded the quartet finals contest. 

England and Scotland

The Alexandria Harmonizers enjoyed a successful tour of the United Kingdom from August 5th through August 12th, 2019, bringing their new “Circle of Life” repertoire to northern England and Scotland.
Members of the chorus left from Dulles Airport August 5th, and flew to London, where they landed on August 6.  Director Joe Cerutti held a brief chorus meeting at 6 pm, and then the Harmonizer groiup scattered to various corners of the city for dinner.
The morning of the 7th, the group headed out on three buses, aiming for Stockport, England.  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. 
August 8th  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.
The Harmonizers did a combined concert with the Cottontown Chorus. Their chorus performed the first half of the concert and demonstrated the quality that has won them several British Association of Barbershop Singers (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 9th, 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 this 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. 
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 9th, 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 10th, 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 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.
When the doors opened, a crowd of Fringe Festival attendees filled the cathedral.  The “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 11th 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.”  The evening ended with the chorus spontaneously declaring their identity with “I’m the Music Man” while assembling for a group photo.
On August 12th, most participants returned 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!
Dog Days

In August over 70  Harmonizers had great fun at the annual sing with other local chapters at the 39th annual Dog Days hosted by the Prince William County Chapter.
Fall Show
A fall show on September 14th was a huge success for the musicians and all their fans!  The chorus sang the following songs from Broadway shows in the first half of the performance at Schlesinger Hall in Alexandria.  The show started at 4 pm.  Tickets were open seating and the hall was full.
“Circle Of Life/Heart and Music” – from The Lion King and New Brain
“The Impossible Dream” – from Man of La Mancha
“Brotherhood Of Man” – from How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
“We Kiss In A Shadow” – from The King and I
“If You Were Gay” – from Avenue Q
“Anything Goes” – from Anything Goes
“Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” – from Les Misérables
“Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” – from Monty Python’s Spamalot
“Blow, Gabriel, Blow” – from Anything Goes
“For Good” – from Wicked
“Circle Of Life” – from The Lion King

The second half of the show featured two great quartets – INSTANT CLASSIC and GQ.  They both thrilled the audience – and the chorus enjoyed the second half from seats on the platforms on the stage.  INSTANT CLASSIC is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2015 International Quartet Champion.   GQ quartet is from the Baltimore area and was the 2013 First Place Sweet Adelines Rising Star Quartet. . 
The show package was developed months ago with major help from coach and performer Cy Wood, who reprised his Gabriel for “Blow Gabriel Blow.”
There was a successful afterglow at Chadwicks in Old Town – they were a sponsor for our show too. Many of our show patrons took advantage of the meal discount that was offered on the show ticket receipt. 
Seneca Land Trip
The Harmonizers traveled to the Seneca Land District (SLD) fall contest and convention in Rochester, NY, Sept. 27-28, 2019, to sing, entertain, share ideas, and spread the fun of our hobby.
The SLD was a great host and helped make arrangements for several extra events, including a Master Class on Saturday morning, a show with dinner for convention attendees, and finale spot on the Show of Shows on Saturday night.
Just over 50 singers made the fun trip (and about ten other family members) on Friday.  A bus departed from Scottish Rite Temple in Alexandria at 10 am; some guys took flights if they could not get off that early from work.  Some drove in a carpool and several guys rode in a van arranged by the chapter for a few more who couldn’t leave so early.
Director Joe Cerutti took an early flight as he was official representative to the convention for the BHS and attended meetings on Friday and Sunday.
The chorus sang a couple songs at the Chorditorium on Friday night after we all arrived.
Then the Master Class was at 8:30 am Saturday and a large crowd attended and filled the room.  Associate director Tony Colosimo spoke about pedagogy; Joe spoke about our methods and plans.  Assistant director Terry Reynolds spoke about admin operations for the music program of the chapter.  The session ended with a strong Q&A period.  The chorus demonstrated points the speakers were making, and Joe used one of our contest songs for demo.  We opened the class singing “I’m the Music Man.”
The mic tester chorus for the chorus contest on Saturday was a Joe Barbershopper group and several Harmonizers sang in it.
The Harmonizers chorus sang for score and evaluation in that contest and earned an 87.4% with 53 singers. As a surprise, Joe invited the judges to select the two songs we would sing from the four panels we showed them labeled ballad-uptune-ballad-uptune.   Joe asked the contest administrators to choose and they chose a ballad and an uptune.  Then we uncovered the sign and learned which songs we would perform. We  sang “We Kiss In a Shadow” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”  The audience asked to know the other two choices and we let them see it could have been “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Anything Goes.”
Then to wrap up our musical part of the weekend, the chorus changed to their blue contest suits with orange tie and pocket stuffer for the finale of the Show of Shows after the quartet champs were chosen.  They performed the “Circle of Life” package and ended  their portion of this event (as our way of saying thanks and to say it was great to make all these new friends) by singing “For Good.”
Saturday night ended with a great hospitality room hosted for the Harmonizers by the Mark Twain, NY, Chapter.  Great chow was provided, and there were lots of quartets and tag singing. Some of our more eager tag singers were up til nearly breakfast Sunday ringing chords but ready for the eight-hour bus ride.
Fall M-AD Convention
There were seven quartets from our chapter in the line-up this year at the fall M-AD contest and convention in Reading, PA, at the Santander Performing Arts Center the weekend of October 4th  and 5th    .
The quartets were SILVER ALERT; VOICES IN MY HEAD; BREAKFAST BLEND; QUIRKS OF ART; MISS OTIS REGRETS; TAYLOR MADE (Rick Taylor, Tom Halley, Douglas Beach, Steve Kitsch); and PERSUASION.  Both SILVER ALERT and PERSUATION qualified to sing in the seniors quartet contest at the 2020 Midwinter Convention in Jacksonville.
PRATT STREET POWER won the overall contest and came out on top in both the preliminary and finals rounds. The fifth place quartet was the QUIN-TONES. Both quartets appeared with the chapter on the holiday show. 
There were 20 choruses in the competition on Saturday morning.  The Harmonizers did not compete since the chapter will be attending Harmony University next summer. Hershey, PA, won.
Bob Eckman, who is president of the M-AD, was in charge this year and helped back stage and host various meetings.  Past president Dennis Ritchey was emcee for the quartet finals session. Dennis was also inducted into the M-AD Hall of Honor this year. 
For this year’s Arts on the Avenue event held October 6th, a 26-man ensemble was formed based on singers who responded on Groupanizer that they were available. They wore the casual outfit and gathered at the Mt. Vernon Rec Center at noon to warm up for the Arts on the Avenue event in the Del Ray area of Alexandria.  It was a beautiful day and the ensemble directed by Terry Reynolds put on a great performance. 

On October 12, an ensemble of 27 guys met at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, to perform with the Manassas Chorale. Our guys took the risers and did a very quick run through of the Harmonizer's songs, with Joe singing the solo in “Circle of Life/Heart and Music” and “For Good;” and with Ben Roberts singing the solo for “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”

For Veterans Day, about 30 members sang for the November 11th event as part of the City of Alexandria’s Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Department and the “Friends of Rocky Versace” 18th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony in Alexandria at 1pm. The approximately 1-hour ceremony honored not only the 68 Alexandrians who died or remain Missing in Action (MIA) during the Vietnam War, but all veterans.  The program included patriotic songs (sung by the Alexandria Harmonizers), reading the names of Alexandria's 68 Vietnam War Fallen Heroes, recognition of all veterans in attendance, a tribute to Captain "Rocky" Versace, acknowledgment of Gold Star family members in the audience, a wreath laying by Captain Versace's USMA 1959 Classmates and the singing of "God Bless America." 

Additionally, Vietnam War era veterans at the event were given the Department of Defense Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin.  The Vietnam era is defined by DOD as Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Ten Harmonizers went forward to receive the lapel pin.
Choral Fellowship

The sanctuary of Alfred Street Baptist was full for the fourth annual Men’s Choral Fellowship in Alexandria.  There were about 200 men from all parts of the DC region singing and pouring their hearts out in song on October 16th.
Hosted by the Harmonizers and the Male Chorus from Alfred Street, the evening included performances from four men’s ensembles.  After each group sang two songs, they taught all the others a song. Our director Joe Cerutti and Alfred Street director Melvin Bryant were co-hosts and kicked off the night with some history of the event and then some details of how the evening would work.  Copies of music that would be taught were shared. Joyce Garrett, Music Minister for Alfred Street, also welcomed all the singers and shared her joy that this event has grown so large and that it continues.
Alfred Street invited the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church Male Chorus directed by Cornelius Young to participate this year; and the Harmonizers invited the Washington Men’s Camerata directed by Frank Albinder to participate.
The Harmonizers sang “Circle of Life/Heart and Music” and “For Good.” The Harmonizers taught “One More Song” from BHS – an original song and arrangement by Joe Liles.
After all the singing, there was a social time in the church basement – plenty of good things for all to eat, including great wings and dips! And there was plenty of time and space to continue visiting with our fellow singers that had begun upstairs with us all seated  by part (tenor 1, tenor 2, bass 1, and bass 2) and not seated with our own chorus.
Strathmore Holiday Show
The Alexandria Harmonizers appeared at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda as part of the Center’s holiday concert series.  The Harmonizers previously performed in the Strathmore productions of “I Am Harvey Milk” in 2016 and “Iron and Coal – Survivor and Son” in 2018.  This was the first time Strathmore agreed to book the Harmonizers for their own show, which was designed and produced by the Harmonizers artistic team.
The “Holidays in Harmony: An A Cappella Concert” on Nov. 30th featured the chorus plus the 2006 BHS gold medal quartet VOCAL SPECTRUM from St. Louis,  and A Cappella! – a mixed chorus of students from James Hubert Blake High School in Montgomery County, MD, directed by Sandra Zinkievich.
All groups performed holiday tunes for the enthusiastic audience.  The finale of “Tribute to World Peace” featured all three groups.
The chorus was directed by Joe Cerutti with associate director Tony Colosimo and assistant director Chuck Hunter.  The Harmonizers small group ensemble, TBD, also sang on the show.  And Will Cox recited his popular version of “The Night Before Christmas” for children in the audience.
Holiday Sings
About 50 members of the chorus met at Market Square (near the stage) at 7pm for the annual Carol Crawl where the chorus sings in restaurants along King Street. This is about our 13th annual caroling walk and the first time for several of our new members.
As usual, we sang first at Gadsby Tavern (a popular spot for George Washington and his friends in the day) and then worked our way thru the popular Old Town entertainment district.  We sang three songs at each stop, wished them a Merry Christmas after announcing who we were, and suggesting that if guys like to sing, come join us. 
And also as usual, we had a good group of fans (and some Harmo family members) who followed us along the street to each place.  The Harmonizers were wearing Santa hats and dressed in colorful sweaters and bright scarves for the season.  Director Joe Cerutti was at the helm for the singing.  As is the tradition, Mark Klostermeyer made contact with the owners/managers of the locations for us to sing.  Joe Cerutti Sr. organized an afterglow gathering spot at Chadwick’s, which was our last stop for singing. A good crowd of the Harmo gang relaxed there.
During the holidays, a group of hardy Harmonizers brought Christmas cheer to around 100 residents of Cameron Station on Sunday December 15.  The Cameron Station Community Association held its Holiday Extravaganza with ample food, hayrides for the children, and the music from the Harmonizers.  Following an outside warm-up near the community pool, the 20+ Harmonizers under the direction of Terry Reynolds took their place in the Gazebo while the families wandered out from the community center.  The sun was out, but the low 50’s temperature made it an extra “cool” sing out. 
Finally during December, Fox News DC invited the Harmonizers to sing carols on air Monday morning 12/23. Joe Cerutti was director and Terry Reynolds helped put together a small group of singers for a very early 7:15 am call at Market Square in Old Town Alexandria.  They sang some of the songs from the holiday show and wore the Santa hats too!
The last holiday event for the Harmonizers was the annual Heat Glow at the home of Jack and Pat Pitzer.  This 60+ year tradition is held each year in January when the chorus takes a break from its regular meeting schedule.
Schlesinger Holiday Show
This year’s holiday show, “Celebrate the Seasons,” was held at Schlesinger Hall in Alexandria, December. 21st.  We were proud to share the stage with guest artists PRATT STREET POWER and the QUIN-TONES.
The chorus was well prepared, and their performance was awesome.  There were 80 men on the risers – several for the first time with the chorus, and many for their first Harmonizer holiday show.  The chapter’s TBD ensemble sang a couple of songs, and each of the guest quartets had a time slot for the show. PRATT STREET POWER has sung with us before and were happy to join in this holiday special.  They live in the Baltimore area and are most recent district chorus champs. The QUIN-TONES are in high school and college and came down from New Jersey.  They were crowned the first ever Next Generation Junior Quartet champs at last year’s midwinter convention.
The stage was decorated with a great backdrop of pine trees and snow, and lighted trees with gifts around them.  Highlights from the first half were an onstage snowfall during “Let it Snow,” “Jingle Bells-Sleigh Ride,” featured Steve White playing the antique sleigh bells his grandfather made and the crazy fun of a revised “Twelve Days of Christmas” with antics from all parts of the chorus.  We aren’t sure who was the biggest star in this song – the pitch pipe man (Matt Doniger) who had to find new ways of sounding the note when his pipe died, or the “two turtles with gloves” (Ben Roberts and Chris Huber) that crawled across the stage during the whole song. Reed Livergood was convincing that he had really downed “nine cups of eggnog” too! Thanks to Tessa Walker who was “discovered” in the audience to fill in for Joe Cerutti when he was kidnapped and taken off stage during the song too. The audience laughed and enjoyed this fresh take on an old favorite.
The first half also included a Santa (Kellen Hertz) who did give-and-take comedy with president Shawn Tallant dressed in fancy attire for the show to introduce the songs.  Corny and fun!! SILVER ALERT sang a touching song about an “Ugly Sweater” in true comedic form.
The lobby was a-buzz with early arrivals who were bidding on items in the silent auction area or getting tickets from will call. Randall Eliason and Kristin Kelly managed the auction, Dean Sherick managed the ticket desk, and a number of Harmonizer family members staffed the ticket desk and CD sales tables and helped usher.  Robyn Murane helped coordinate those volunteers and helped the chorus with their uniforms for the show, adding a green or red pocket stuffer for the tails for each man in the second half.  The chorus wore their blue suits without the vests for the first half.
The following Harmonizer family volunteered to help at various events this year: Ina Berkey, Liz Burnbaum, Janet Cerutti, Joe Ceruti Sr., Rebecca Connor, Pat Crusenberry, Janet Cushing, Carol Dangel, Patti Edison, Kitty Fedarko, Krissy Folsom, Amber Friedman, Lydia Golden, Naida Harrington, Judy Huber, Kathy Kauffmann, Kristin Kelly, Dixie Kennett, Rob Langston, Cody Leihgeber-Carpenter, Aideen Manion, Sam McFarland, Sandy McKenzie, Roby Murane, Walt Page, Jack Pitzer, Ginny Wells, and Myrna Welter.
Membership at the end of the year was 185.  Michael Everard was the only addition to Memorial Roll this year. Two former members also died during the year – Sunny Shook and Arthur Louis. 
(This message is prepared for your review as a historical record of the great things that happened during the 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd