Looking Back on the 2020 Harmonizer Events and Milestones
We began our 2020 year with the Presidents’ Award Banquet and board installation on February 1st at Lee Center in Alexandria. The banquet was the 46th such event. Over 120 of the Harmonizer family attended the tasty buffet banquet catered by Maggiano’s.
The 2019 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 2020 officers and board.
To continue a tradition begun at the first banquet, each member presented a rose to his significant other as we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
The chapter invited Bob Eckman, M-AD president and his wife Maggie, to install a 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.
Leaders of the 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.
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 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.
Musical leaders are Joe Cerutti, artist director; Tony Colosimo, associate director; Terry Reynolds, Mike Kelly, andChuck Hunter, assistant directors; plus section leaders, Brian Ammerman for tenors, Reed Livergood for leads, Jason Lee for baritones, and Ryan Mextorf for basses.
Two Harmonizer quartets competed in the senior quartet contest at the 2020 BHS Midwinter Convention in Jacksonville, FL. SILVER ALERT with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox and Steve Murane and PERSUASION with Mike Kelly represented our chapter. Ross Johnson and his wife Susan Williams were one of the sponsors for the NextGen Youth Chorus Contest at that event.
On Friday, February 7th, the chapter presented The Yale Whiffenpoofs – nationally known as the oldest collegiate a cappella group. The chorus sang several 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.
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. Three quartets made appearances as assigned by the chapter for public relations and community relations efforts.
Covid 19 Hit the Chapter
March 10th was our last face-to-face chapter meeting at the Scottish Rite Temple after the government declared changes needed to be made for groups.
Covid took two of our members – Brian Miller, an early DC area resident to die from the virus, and Bob Wachter, a long-time barbershopper in the DC area.
We began to use Zoom for our chapter meetings on Tuesday nights and were having well over 60 attendees for the first few months. Attendance leveled off to about 50 as the virus continued to force us to meet virtually. The chapter board of directors also met via Zoom as did other chapter committees and the very active music team.
Over the months we had many guests from throughout the world-wide barbershop community including Kevin Keller, David Wright, Cy Wood, Scott Werner, Marty Monson, Tim Waurick, Darryl Flinn, Tony DeRosa, Clay Hine, Chad Bennett, Sheryl Berlin, Cindy Hansen Ellis, Steve Tramack, Charlotte Murray, Alexander Koller, Steve Armstrong, Mark Kettner, Alan Gordon, Dusty Schleier, Brian Lynch, Mo Field, Amelia Charnock, Dustin Guyton, Cay Outerbridge, Quincie Snook, Drew Wheaton, and Alex Morris. We interviewed them; asked them to teach or coach; had them conduct warm ups; asked them to explain a judging category or to teach choreo; or we invited them to share a project they were working on. Several quartet guests visited the chapter too including VINTAGE MIX, Dr. Tim Workman and the WORKMAN FAMILY SINGERS, the VON TRAMACK FAMILY SINGERS
Several chapter members, in addition to Joe and Tony, made presentations (we called them electives) during the year to include Steve White, Rick Savage, Jack Pitzer, Adam Afifi, Chris Huber, Joel Golden, Noah Van Gilder, Bruce Roehm, Devin Gerzof, Jason Lee, Randall Eliason, Mike Edison, Ben Watsky, Mike Fasano, Mark Klostermeyer, Tessa Walker, John Sifuentes, Chuck Hunter, Ken Ives, and Rusty Orvick.
Some examples of those electives include: “Understanding White Collar Crime,” “Building a Race Car,” “Collecting Barber Shop Bottles,” or “Star Wars the Expanded Universe!” The chapter’s history team did a couple electives sharing the recent collections of historical materials from members and former members.
One fun activity during each of the weekly Zoom meetings was the different discussion topic. We were automatically assigned to small groups of five or so where we checked in on each other and then offered our “two-cents” on the topic of the week. Then each small group reported to the whole chapter. Examples of the topics include: “your favorite Harmonizer memory;” “what’s your go-to barbershop music to listen to;” “what annoys you most;” “if the chapter was given a million dollars, what should we do with it;” or “describe an ideal rehearsal afterglow.”
During the months of virtual meetings, Alan Wile conducted 15 interviews of members who have filled out a Harmo Hero form for posting on Groupanizer. These interviews helped us all get to know more about the man who sings with us in the chorus: Chuck Hunter, Frank Shipp, Don Harrington, Alan Wile interviewed by Terry Reynolds, Reed Livergood, Noah Van Gilder, Casey Belzer, Antony Takahashi, Steve White, Sam McFarland, Ken Rub, Ben Watsky, Mick Stamps, Bob Rhome, and Ike Evans.
The chapter joined 30 other choral groups in the DC area to raise monies for the Capital Area Food Bank that was so severely challenged during the Covid.
The following traditional important events for the chapter were cancelled for this year: our Youth Harmony Festival; M-AD Prelims; Southern Division Contest; International Convention in Los Angeles; Fall M-AD Convention; Choral Fellowship in Alexandria; Harmony University in Nashville.
The Harmonizers participated in the City of Alexandria’s Spring2ACTion in 2020 and netted over $33,000 from fans, family, members, and supporters. Major thanks go to chapter executive director Randall Eliason who made it easy for chapter members and their supporters to donate during that day. A contest among the chorus sections helped boost sales too and created a lot of fun for the members who stimulated the donations.
In August, the Harmonizers co-hosted (with the Prince William County Chapter) the annual sing with other local chapters for the 40th annual Dog Days. Each chapter had a representative to share what they had been doing this year. Special guests on the virtual Zoom event included BHS CEO Marty Monson; DOUBLE DATE mixed quartet champs; and the Tramack family quartet from their home in NH.
Prior to March, our a cappella group, TBD, made several appearances on behalf of the chapter in the DC Metro area.
The Harmonizers were proud to have been chosen along with 14 other choral groups to be on the WETA PBS “Songs of the Season” hour-long show that was aired various times in December. The 2019 performance of “Gloria” by the Harmonizers was chosen for the show.
BHS Legacy Quartet Contest
The Society organized a virtual quartet contest among 25 popular quartets that never won the gold medal but everyone thought they should have.
Several quartets had Harmonizers in them: BSQ with Rick Taylor; CENTER STAGE with Lee Hanson; RIPTIDE with Rick Taylor and Richard Lewellen; and VAUDEVILLE with John Casey, Scott Werner, John Hohl, and Bill Cody.
Top five placements after two rounds of voting by the audience were 139TH STREET in first; RIPTIDE in second; METROPOLIS in third; CENTER STAGE in fourth; and HARRINGTON BROTHERS in fifth.
BHS Awards Gala
The chapter was proud to have been named a finalist is the first-ever BHS Awards Gala that was set to be held at the 2020 International in Los Angeles. The chapter was named a finalist in the Ensemble of the Year category and in the Ambassador of the Year category. Also named finalist in the Ambassador category was Dr. Joyce Garrett from Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria. In the end, the Alexandria Harmonizers Chorus was named Ensemble of the Year!
2020 Virtual Holiday Show
This year’s Alexandria Harmonizer holiday show was a huge success. Virtual and co-presented with Northwest Sound from Bellevue, WA, Chapter, the free event was broadcast on the BHS YouTube Channel and watched around the world. Theme for the show was “Christmas Coast to Coast – a celebration of singing and family!”
The Harmonizers themselves had a watch party that started at 6 pm – about a half hour before the show went live at 6:30 pm EST on Dec. 20th 2020.
The Harmonizers encouraged viewers of the show to donate to TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), a non-profit in VA that provides benefits for the families of service members who were killed in the line of duty. Leaders of that organization joined us during the watch party too including founder Bonnie Carroll (who joined the call from Alaska). Before the show ended, nearly $5,000 was donated. The Northwest Sound Chapter encouraged donations to Hopelink.
President Stan Quick shared in the show program that the first decision during the collaboration was that the show would be a gift. No group appearing would make any money. Rather, each chapter selected their charity to support.
The show was also sponsored by both the Evergreen and the Mid Atlantic Districts of BHS. Evergreen president (former Harmonizer) John Rettenmayer and MAD president (and current Harmonizer) Bob Eckman both brought greetings during the show.
Much appreciation to those who made the show possible because of technology. Mike Kelly and Joel Golden get top billing for their hard work, long hours and technical expertise as Harmonizers. Director Joe Cerutti, associate director Tony Colosimo, and assistant director Terry Reynolds provided significant musical and administrative leadership to get the chorus ready to do their recordings and to keep the communications flowing. Bruce Roehm, president of AH Inc., and Matt Doniger, chapter communications director, were also on the production team. That team included an equal number of men from Northwest Sound including their director Ken Potter and their president and emcee on the show, Bill Hickman. The BHS staff in Nashville provided major project management as well, including promotion to the family of singers we call barbershop.
The two-hour show was truly a holiday variety show with lots of great graphics, photos and videos and glimpses into homes and lives of fellow barbershop singers around the globe. There were youth quartets, mixed quartets, family groups, dads and their kids, small break-out groups from both chapters, top ranking quartets from all barbershop harmony organizations, some comedy with Will Cox doing his traditional “Night Before Christmas” routine, and a greeting from BHS CEO Marty Monson and his family on their front porch after a snow there.
Our Alexandria chapter was well represented with several groups on the show in addition to the virtual chorus songs by themselves and with the Northwest Sound chorus. Our own a cappella group, TBD, donned Santa hats, with black masks to film a number outside our chapter meeting place. RIPTIDE – a rock band, which includes Joe Cerutti Sr., Chris Huber, Kellen Hertz and Joel Golden from the chorus – entertained on the show with “Santa Is Coming to Town.”
Always great to hear BETTER TOGETHER sing for us – perfect for a family show with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo, and Andrew and Heather Havens singing together. Tony and Andrew also appeared with their relatively new quartet, FIRST TAKE, with Drew Wheaton and Alex Corson.
SILVER ALERT modeled the epidemy of ugly Christmas sweaters and sang about it on the show! This Harmo quartet includes Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, and Steve Murane.
When word was out that this show was being planned, the task force was inundated with offers of assistance and ultimately there were 22 groups appearing on the show. Some of the groups have been part of the Harmonizer year of Zoom meetings, some been on our shows, some have come to help with our Youth Harmony event, and some welcomed us for shows in their world. No wonder it was called a “Christmas Coast to Coast – a celebration of singing and family!”
For the history, here are the groups that sang a song on the show: ASTEL FAMILY, BETTER TOGETHER, DOUBLE DATE, FIRST TAKE, GQ, HALO QUARTET, HEAVY MEDAL, IMPACT, MITCHELL FAMILY SINGERS, MOMMA’S BOYS, NORTHWEST MIX, PRATT STREET POWER, THE QUINN-TONES, SILVER ALERT, TBD, VINTAGE MIX, VON TRAMACK FAMILY SINGERS, WORKMAN FAMILY, and SIGNATURE; plus the two men’s choruses – Northwest Sound and the Alexandria Harmonizers.
The Harmonizers couldn’t miss a chance to celebrate the successful virtual holiday show so they invited the men of Northwest Sound in Bellevue, WA, to join in an afterglow via Zoom on December 22nd. A good number of guys from both chapters were present. Both chapters shared responses they had gotten from friends, family and patrons. Everyone rated the show Five Stars and off-the-chart! There were folks in the viewing audience from around the world – for sure from Germany, New Zealand, England, and Ireland. As of the start of the afterglow, there had been 3900 views of the show.
As has been the chapter’s tradition, the Alexandria patrons were given a change to support a Holiday Silent Auction. This year it was “live” online for two weeks prior to the show to start bidding on the 60+ items in the auction. Chaptermembers collected the items. Randall Eliason and Kristin Kelly managed the auction that raised several thousand dollars for the chapter.
In October, the annual election chose the following to serve as board members for the BHS Alexandria Chapter for 2021: president – Stan Quick; secretary – David DesPortes; treasurer – Al Herman; and members-at-large – Clyde Crusenberry, Frank Shipp, and Devin Gerzof. No immediate past president was elected. Members recognized Chris Buechler for his 25+ years as secretary for the chapter.
Membership at the end of the year was 173. Jerry Kindred, Brian Miller and Bob Wachter were added to the Memorial Roll this year. Other former members who died during the year were Gary Smith and Michael Riordan.
Until next time – editorjack!
(This message is prepared for your review as a historical record of the great things that happened during the 72nd year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd