Thursday, July 9, 2020

Looking Back on the July 7th, 2020 Virtual Chapter Meeting

Again the chapter has suspended in-person meetings of the chorus, boards and committees until further notice as well as for any small group, quartet, or ensemble gatherings. Chapter leaders are discussing and considering how to move into the next phase of openings for groups – especially singing groups. The operations team has also started to budget planning for the next fiscal year trying to guess how it will unfold!

However, there was not a regular in-person meeting of the Alexandria Harmonizers on July  7th   2020.  

Director Joe Cerutti hosted the gathering at 7 pm via Zoom video meeting this week to continue learning more about our chapter and our fellow members, learning about the barbershop hobby in general and meeting guests from around the Society. Plus we continue to work on our music.

Joe shared that our chapter leaders had published/posted the Alexandria Harmonizers’ inclusivity statement and shared it with the BHS, all of our members, patrons and supporters and friends.  He reports that one patron shared it with US Senator Tim Kaine who represents Virginia. 

It was great to have some Harmonizers with us this week we haven’t seen for a while including Rick Wagner from HI, Alex Crounk back on the call, Mike Fasano from his home in DE, Bob Thames from his home in FL, Keith Jones from his home in FL, and Gene Swartz from the Virginia Gentlemen Chorus in Roanoke. There were two other guests on the call this week – both having moved to the Alexandria area recently:  Yuhan Roh for his third or fourth visit and Justin F for his first visit with us (he is moving to the area and sang with the Independence OH Chapter).

Joe reviewed the future guests that will be on our Zoom meetings in the weeks ahead.  VINTAGE MIX quartet from Wisconsin (quadruplets that sang on our holiday show a few years ago) will be with us next week. The future list includes Clay Hine (one of our arrangers and the baritone of  the popular comedy quartet FRED); Chad Bennett (currently a staffer at BHS and former performer with Disney Dapper Dans); Steve Tramack and his family (an arranger of many Harmonizer songs and singing with other members of his family for us); Cindy Hansen (our successful performance coach during the last several years); and Charlotte Murray (director of Vocal DX chorus from New Zealand).

For the first time on a Zoom call, the chapter bid farewell to a chapter member who is departing the area.  Shawn Tallant and his family are moving to Tennessee soon.  There were many accolades mentioned by Joe as we bid farewell to our recent past president and positive leader for the chapter.  As is our tradition, we sang “A Place on the Risers for You” while a chorus recording of it was played. Joe wished Shawn the best of luck from us all and urged him to keep singing.

Associate director Tony Colosimo was leader of our warm up time and took the men through some physical exercises (encouraging guys to revisit the exercises taught by Quincie Snook a couple weeks ago on our Zoom meeting) and then concentrated on vocal matters to warm up the voice for the nite.  He ended the exercise with the two long-time traditional warm up pieces – “we sing late at times-canned goods” and “you could go all night-morning.”

Then all the singers at home in their own spaces worked on sections of the uptune and ballad we are preparing for future contests. Tony sang and Joe coached him so the members could see what Joe wanted.

At one point Joe asked every singer to get out his cell phone and record himself and then hit send to give it to the section leader or an assigned listener. This will be a regular activity for the chorus singers in order to build up the chorus custom of self-recording and to encourage the use of technology to help individual singers improve.  It is not a process for passing or elimination.

There were over 60 attendees again this week!! Terry Reynolds used the Zoom system to randomly divide all attendees on the call into a small group of five to share “what’s your ‘light-bulb’ moment as a Harmonizer? ” There were 12 groups to report and everyone of them had at least one guy who said something about how the coaching by Steve Scott in recent years was his moment of change. Other moments included singing the “San Francisco song for “I Am Harvey Milk,” discovering you don’t have to sing every note in the chorus songs, the moments when we turned out “down the tiles” to the audience to welcome them in, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, and realizing singing in a quartet makes you a better chorus guy and singing in the chorus makes you a better quartet guy.

The chapter’s business meeting was brief with no major announcements. Steve Murane shared a warm message of appreciation from Sandy and Mick Stamps to the Harmonizer family for the many messages, letters, cards, meals, serenades and prayers during their challenging time of late.

President Stan Quick urged members to take action to support or to ask others to support Choruses for Care and Compassion.  The Harmonizers have joined with 30 other choral groups in the DC area to raise monies for the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB).  The goal is to raise $100,000 by Labor Day so the CAFB can provide assistance to those in our community that have been impacted by recent economic changes. It fits well with our mission “enriching lives through vocal harmony in the greater DC area.” Matt Doniger is our cheerleader for this project.

Joe also thanked Dean Rust for his work in applying to get the Harmonizers on the roster of touring Virginia artists.  His work stimulated an endorsement by the artistic director of Strathmore.

To wrap up the evening, we welcomed Tony DeRosa, director of the Heralds of Harmony in FL; four-time gold medal quartet singer  - KEEPSAKE baritone in1992, PLATINUM baritone in 2000, MAXQ lead in 2007, and MAIN STREET lead in 2017; popular coach for us and other ensembles in BHS and SAI; and musical director at Disney World for Dapper Dans and Voice of Liberty. He and his wife Jodi are both singers and met as part of Voices of Liberty.

He started at the age of seven with his Dad Joe in Rochester NY. His Mom was active in Harmony Inc. Tony says he liked the chords and sound right from the start. He says he is “thankful for a decent set of pipes and a good ear” that has made his hobby great and his professional work a success.

Joe interviewed Tony and asked questions the members had submitted. Tony told us a lot about the Heralds work during the covid 19 crisis – like us busy with Zoom meetings. One big project their chapter did was ‘Judging in June.’ They had guest speakers for each of the BHS judging categories, they asked some BHS judges to listen to some performances during a Zoom meeting and score them and explain their scores. Then to wrap up in the final week of June, the members of their chorus judged some  clips and compared scores.

To wrap up his visit with us, Tony congratulated the chapter and saluted our efforts to “keep things going” for our chapter and our organization.  He is a loyal fan of the Harmonizers.

As is the case each week, a bunch of guys stay past the closing time of the Zoom meeting for an impromptu afterglow. Next week’s meeting will be via Zoom again at 7 pm.  Watch for email details.


Here are two other info items about our hobby and chapter.

First – here is the link to the video Joe and Darryl Flinn mentioned last Tuesday that gives a tour of the Harmony Hall mansion in Kenosha, filmed in the mid 90s.   For old timers, it’s also cool to see so many great society leaders as they looked in the mid 90s, Joe Liles, Mel Night, Ev Nau, Keepsake, Gas House Gang, and many more.  Enjoy.

A Walk Through Harmony Hall 

Second – the chapter’s history team (actually Martin Banks) has posted a list of all the men in the chapter who have earned gold medals as a Harmonizer.  It is posted in Groupanizer/Harmonizer Heritage/Harmonizer Chorus Competitions titled Gold Medal Men By the Numbers,


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