Thursday, January 14, 2021

Looking Back on the Jan. 12th 2021 Virtual Chapter Meeting

 Looking Back on the Jan. 12th  2021 Virtual Chapter Meeting


It was great to get back together – even via Zoom – after our break for the holidays.


The last week has been a tough one for our DC Metro region.  Thus this message from Stan Quick, Harmonizer president, and Bruce Roehm, AH, Inc. president, was sent to all members on Jan. 6th, 2021.


Dear Harmonizers:

All of us are troubled by the events taking place today in our nation's capital.  As far as we know, all of our members and family who live or work in or near the affected areas are safe and sound.  If, however, you need any kind of help or support, or know of someone who may need assistance or is unaccounted for, please be sure to let us know.  The members of our Harmonizer family are here for each other during this difficult and unsettling time.

We look forward to happier and more peaceful days ahead.  Please be well, stay safe, and reach out if you need anything.

    In harmony,

      Stan and Bruce


For tonight’s meeting, Director Joe Cerutti called things to order at 7 pm.  Early guys who signed on were chatting about their week, the holidays, weather, and refreshments to have during this meeting! There were nearly 60 folks on the call. Great to see guys on the call we have missed include Tom Berkey from Williamsburg, Dick Dangel, and Jerry Jayjohn.


He was excited about sharing the plans for the coming year from the music team and eager to report the new lead section leaders for 2021 – Ben Watsky and Tessa Walker.  Thanks to Reed Livergood for his work as lead section leader, and before that as bari section leader! A more complete report for the plans for next year were presented at the end of the meeting. 


The music team goal is to help guys gets their voices back and for the chorus to work on some music so that when we get clearance, we can sing together and do a show. 


Joe also shared his excitement about the quality of our virtual holiday show and how proud he was of the work done by our Harmonizer singers. There were reports of follow up from the show that were great.  It’s still available on the BHS YouTube Channel.


Associate director Tony Colosimo conducted a warm up session starting with stretching and moving and getting guys to stand who are able.


Next, Joe introduced a new song for us arranged by David Wright – “Something’s Coming.” He admitted it is not an easy arrangement but is a powerful number.  Joe reviewed his suggested steps in how to learn music:


1.     Listen to the song from other places, Broadway, shows, CDs, etc.

2.     Listen to the full mix over and over and take notes (since we do not have the printed music for “Something’s Coming,” you could make notes of tough spots, etc. like you would have done on the music)

3.     Listen to part-predominate tracks.  Sing with those tracks three times.  Sing without the track three times (Joesays this is the most important step of all).  You might also want to divide the song into smaller chunks.


Then he had Terry Reynolds, the admin guy for the music team, play the full mix tracks a couple times. And then Joeworked on some exercises to help guys discover the variances in rhythms.  


Next the music team conducted an experiment using Jamulus software. Joe, with lots of technical help from Tony, had worked to get things set up for a quartet of our guys to sing “With a Little Help from My Friends.” It was awesome to hear four-part harmony!!!  So Joe declared this is the first Jamulus Quartet in the chapter: Devin Gerzof, tenor; Tony Colosimo, lead; Jacob Broude, bari; and Turner Arndt, bass.  They did a great job and earned many kudos from the other guys on the call.


There will be lots more work on this idea and hopefully the chorus will get to a point of singing like this.  It will take some doing to get the technology out to all of the men, and it might take some donations from guys to help cover some of the hardware costs for men who need the financial assistance.


Moving on, the chorus sang “Never Fully Dressed” arranged by Clay Hine while Jason Lee sang the bari line.  Similarly, Tony sang the lead line for “Chorus Line Medley arranged by John Hohl.  Joe thanked them for providing great examples of how the song will be sung. 


The chapter business meeting was coordinated by communications director Matt Doniger.  It was reported that Aaron Simoneau’s father died on New Year’s Eve day.  Our thoughts go out to Aaron.


Chapter secretary Dave DesPortes reports he is working to adapt to the new member center operation at the BHS headquarters in Nashville.


The chapter’s operation team headed by executive director Randall Eliason held a Zoom meeting on Sun. Jan. 10th to touch base for the new year and get a “catch up report” from the various directors on the ops team. New directors added to the ops team are Nick Murane, conventions; Matt Doniger, communications; and Doug White, shows.  The development director position is open, so anyone interested or any suggestions for a candidate should go to Randall.


The music team roll out of plans for 2021 launches a plan to try some new ways of conducting the Zoom meetings, gets things moving toward a possible live show, and involves adjusting the rehearsal model.


As mentioned earlier, the new lead section leaders complete the list: Brian Ammerman, tenor; Ben Watsky and Tessa Walker, lead; Jason Lee with Jacob Broude, baritone; Ryan Mextorf, bass. 


Musical leaders continue efforts to collect feedback from members. Thus, Joe will personally interview, via Zoom, each member between Jan. 23- Feb. 13.  Terry manages the logistics of this operation and the first batch of interviewees has already gotten their times.  Anyone who has not submitted a survey and reported their availability should do so.  It’s not too late. Joe will do all the interviews this year but section leaders are welcome to join him.  Non-singers are also welcome to be interviewed as well.


Based on the desire to sing as a chorus as soon as possible, singers are encouraged to work on their music, get their voices in shape (and be ready to stand on the risers and be physically ready too), and prepare to submit recordings so leaders can do choir virtual ensembles.


Weekly meetings will have a few changes – more singing time each week, 4-part via Jamulus ASAP, alternating discussion topics with Harmo Hero interviews, and adjusting our work efforts based on what happens with the International in Cleveland in July.  


Planning had been done for our first in-person show.  It will be themed “A Beautiful Morning” designed to create good feelings for singers and the audience, with some sing-along and interactive experiences.  After this year of Covid confinements, we will sing songs about hope with messages to promote community and humanity. The goal is for the chorus to do two full sets on the show. We will add guest artists as is practical from those ensembles that are close to the chapter.


For those men who are well organized, here is the order that guys should learn and get the songs under their belts and ready to sing:

“Help from My Friends”

“Something’s Coming”

“Chorus Line Medley”

“Never Fully Dressed”


As mentioned earlier, the whole self-recording culture will be stressed.  These recordings will not be done for culling or cutting or dropping anyone. They will adopt the virtual choir audio recordings as the chorus did for the holiday show. Thanks to Joel Golden for his offer to work on this.  The first deadlines have been announced for those submission: Jan. 31st for “Help from My Friends,” and Feb. 14th for “Never Fully Dressed.”


Clearly 2021 will require participation by every member – not just as singers, but as committee members, helpers with listening to tapes, sponsoring technical tools for members who need help, and doing the organizational jobs that volunteers must do to keep a great chapter functioning and growing.


In other news, here is a message from current M-AD president Brian Schreiner about the district’s plans regarding spring contests: We feel it is just too soon for choruses to rehearse live, and to get ready for contests in the spring. With that being saidwe will not have any division chorus contests this spring. We are making plans for a huge open convention in Lancaster, PA, Oct 1-2, 2021. All will be welcome to attend/compete - no qualifications will be needed. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming months. 

In the meantime, quartets still need to qualify for the International Convention in Cleveland. At this point we are looking at a possible "live" contest as well as video qualification, for those wishing to do so. We'll provide details soon. In the meantime, stay connected, stay safe, and keep singing! “


Our next  Harmonizer Tuesday meeting will be via Zoom again at 7 pm on Jan. 19th, 2021. Watch for email details. Alan Gordon, singing category specialist for BHS will speak.  He has been with us before.  Alan is currently interim director of the Masters of Harmony.


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 for the great things going on each week during the 72nd year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. - YeEd)