Fourteen singing seniors of the Yale a cappella group the “Whiffenpoofs” visited the Archer School for Girls in January. The group of talented young men filled Archer’s Rose Room with both their voices and humor.
According to their website, the Whiffenpoofs are the oldest and self-proclaimed “best-known” collegiate a cappella group in the world. Founded in 1909, this century old traditional group is known globally. From China to Egypt to Ireland, the “Whiffs” are crossing the oceans one note at a time.
“What is a Whiffenpoof?” The Oracle asked a couple of the members. And even though they couldn’t tell us the full story we did get a better understanding—a Whiffenpoof is a “mythical creature” and “some kind of dragon fish” that, over a hundred years ago, Yale students joked about when coming up with a name. Not surprisingly, they even came up with a funny song, an adaption from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The more in-depth story along with the song is on their website.
Of course, you don’t just show up to Yale as a freshman and say “Hey I want to travel the world and sing!”— it does not work that way. There are different singing groups on campus, but only senior men can audition to become a Whiffenpoof.
Taking a year off from college is a big deal, but this sacrifice is well worth the experience, according to a few current members that spoke to the Oracle. “One of the best things is being with such a great group of guys,” one Whiff said.
The 14 performers drew a crowd in Archer’s Rose Room of teachers, staff, and students. Theatre Teacher Reed Farley explained to the Oracle that the Whiffs reached out to Archer. One of the current members from Los Angeles has a connection with Coach Denny Lennon’s son and knew of Archer.
Even though there are currently four southern Californians in the group, the members reside in locations all across the nation. Some of the performers have been singing for as long as they can remember, and others have just recently found their talents in college. The Whiffs interviewed unanimously agreed that “a cappella is a big deal at Yale.”
While they range in experience, they come together in harmony on stage. “Their voices were great and inspired me to continue my singing career” said an Archer sophomore.