Thursday, August 20, 2020

Looking Back on the August 18th, 2020 Virtual Chapter Meeting


Looking Back on the August 18th, 2020 Virtual Chapter Meeting

The chapter continues its virtual meetings with members of the Harmonizer family signing in from all around the nation. 

Director Joe Cerutti started this week’s meeting with a tribute to a great barbershopper and member of our chapter Bob Wachter, who died on August 16th from complications due to Covid 19.  His daughter Wanda had kept the chapter posted with his health situation the last few days,

Joe lead off the tribute with a brief summary of Bob’s great work and service to the chapter.  It was clear from all the testimonies that Bob was a life-long learner and a willing teacher to all of us.  His years as director of choruses around the world confirm his skills as a teacher.

Although Bob was a 68-year member of the BHS, he joined our chapter in 1993. Many of the stories shared by members on the call included a mention of Bob’s wife of over 60 years, Jean. We all agreed you could not talk much about Bob without including Jean who helped him so much with their lovely home and with sets and decorations for events with the chapters they were leading such as Arlington, Fairfax and Mount Vernon.

Many of us recall celebrating his 90th birthday last year with the Harmony Heritage Singers of Mount Vernon when he sang a solo and celebrated with his barbershop buddies. Bob sang in lots of quartets over the years, and served as a sound judge, and later a singing judge, for Society contests.  He was always willing to coach a quartet or chorus no matter where and what their rank might be.  In our chapter, he was noted for helping men with vocal lessons. 

He had a successful military career in the Air Force and was proud of his 40 years as a quartet performer at the Military Order of the Carabao Wallow event held each year to “roast” the military and politics in Washington, DC.  

Bob was often called upon for a toast at an important Harmonizer gathering and he would end with “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.  And I think you can – Bob.”

The guys asked to sing our traditional farewell song in honor of Bob - “There Will Always Be a Place on the Risers for You.” Cards can be sent to Wanda V. Wachter & Family, 2218 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA 22306.


After the tribute, Joe acknowledged the “care package” sent to members on behalf of the chapter.  This was a concept started back in May as a way to stay connected to our members, donors, patrons, and VIP's, and others during this time of isolation due to the pandemic.  Internally the project was known as "Lean on Me."

President Stan Quick recognized the following men via email for their time and effort spent making this possible, especially in the face of the challenges due to the pandemic: Jacob Broude - project manager, content coordinator, logistics; Adam Afifi, Noah Van Gilder, Ben Watsky - content generation, design; Mike Kelly - performance recordings for the USB drive; Frank Fedarko - printing, packaging, shipping; Randall Eliason -  review, packaging, shipping; Bruce Roehm, Carl Kauffmann, Dave Welter – finance; Joe - concept & intro letter.  Yet again, another reason "It's Great To Be A Harmonizer!"


BTW – several guys were wearing the blue wrist band that was in the packet during this week’s call!

Joe was happy to report that work continues to plan for the chapter’s next live show, and so in two weeks the small group discussion topic will collect ideas from members about “what makes a great afterglow.”

Next week, Tuesday, Aug 25th. the Harmonizers will host a virtual “Dog Days” event since our friends in the Manassas Chapter had to cancel this year’s in-person event they have hosted for 39 years for choruses in Northern Virginia to perform for each other and socialize.

This year’s virtual Dog Days event will be open to all chapters in DC, Northern Virginia and Baltimore areas. There will be an appearance by the World Mixed Quartet Champs DOUBLE DATE who have won that contest twice – in 2014 and in 2016.  BHS CEO Marty Monson will also be with us.

There will be musical warm up sessions, some singing and two electives: how to work on your music at home; and apps you can use to work on your music.

Again Joe extended an invite to all members to volunteer if they have a topic they could speak passionately about as an elective in a future Zoom meeting.  Passion for a topic is top priority. Let Terry or Joe know of your interest – it does not even need to be related to barbershop! Several guys have already signed up, so if you want to be added to the list, contact music team administrator Terry Reynolds.  These non-barbershop electives will start appearing on the schedule in September.

Similarly, if any of you have internet content you’d like to share, tell Terry, Tony or Joe about it too. 

There were a number of long-time Harmonizers on the call again this week – several guys from others states join us each week. Former member Rusty Orvick now from AZ was a new addition to the call, as was Julian LaFore, lead of the QUIN-TONES, who has moved to the area and will attend Towson University to study music ed. Martin Banks was on the call and Joe acknowledged the terrific history papers Martin has published on the personals page for the chapter.

Jason Lee conducted this week’s warm up session since associate director Tony Colosimo was on a Zoom call with the Richmond VA chapter. Jason started with a physical program since attendees had been sitting for quite a while.

Then Joe moved into work that we didn’t get to last week – the tag of the new contest ballad. He cautioned that a major point to remember is to use good sense in singing the top parts and not to damage the throat.

There were no items of business to announce.

Next Alan Wile conducted the eighth interview of a Harmonizer Hero – this time Antony Takahashi. He shared that his first name was chosen because his Mom liked Shakespeare. And during his first few years of life, he was in Japan and so “Tony” was easy to translate.

His father was a Fulbright scholar and met his mom who was from Arkansas while in the US. At age 9, the family returned to the US and he was raised in California. He attended UC Berkeley and studied physics. However, during his long career, he migrated into accounting and business matters – especially after he earned his MBA from the University of Virginia.

Antony had an eight year stint in the Marine Corps and was an officer.

He sang as a young boy, with prompts from his Mom to be in church groups, and then didn’t sing much again until in his forties. When job and life changes opened up for him, he checked out singing and tried barbershop. He has sung barbershop now for 17 years in Poughkeepsie, NY, Westchester County NY, Research Triangle Park, NY; and in 2003, he joined the Blue Ridge Barbershoppers in Fauquier County.  When his son Massahisa wanted to sing too, they decided to join the Harmonizers.  The father and son sang together in our chorus.

Our special elective this week was a personal visit with coach, arranger and former Harmonizer, Steve Tramack and his family of barbershop quartet singers. Their household is a beehive of musical leadership for all kinds of barbershop including singing in contest quartets, participating in choruses for men and for women, and directing many choruses. The family is mostly centered in BHS and Harmony Inc. Steve has arranged many songs for the Harmonizers and is a popular arranger around the nation.  He is currently category specialist for the music category in BHS.  His wife and daughter are co-directors of their HI chorus.

Before their visit ended with us, three quartets had sung for us on the Zoom call. Steve, his son, his wife, his daughters, and their significant others all were in the quartets. The group also taught us a tag – “Here We Are Again, Falling Back in Love.”

Their final piece was our Harmonizer retreat tag, “Life Is Not Too Long to Live As Friends.”

It was great fun to share the evening with this talented, hard working and dedicated barbershop family from New Hampshire.

Before signing off, Joe reminded all of us about the Legacy Quartet Championship event starting this weekend. This event will be a contest to recognize 25 of the top barbershop quartets that “never won the gold” in past contests.  The 25 semifinalists will be played in a virtual event Sat. Aug. 22 from 4-10 pm Eastern. (Our own VAUDEVILLE sings fifth on Saturday.) The ten finalists will be aired on Sat. Aug. 29th from 6-10 pm. Go to to sign up for various levels of participation and involvement with the contest.

As is the case each week, a bunch of guys stayed 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.

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 72nd year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd