Men’s chorus had a chance to rest their voices and use their ears Thursday morning. Joined by other students of the music department, the class enjoyed a performance by the renowned Whiffenpoofs, an a capella group from Yale University.
The Whiffenpoofs, established in 1909, is the oldest collegiate a capella group in the country. If you’re wondering about the name, it’s a reference to the name of a creature in the “Little Nemo” comic strip.
This year, the all-senior group includes Whitman alum Andy Berry (’09), a bass who is also the group’s musical director, a position nicknamed the “pitchpipe” in Whiffenpoof tradition.
Berry, who was in chorus throughout high school, said he enjoyed coming back to perform.
“It’s amazing to be here,” he said. “It’s two totally different worlds colliding, and I never would have imagined it, to see these guys in the choir room with Mr. Davidson.”
The group performed 10 songs ranging from the traditional Irish tune “Down by the Sally Gardens” to the more upbeat “Grace Kelly,” which is an arrangement the 2011 Whiffenpoofs performed on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.”
A crowd-pleaser was the group’s performance of “Midnight Train to Georgia,” which featured entertaining dance moves that got the audience laughing. This playful and relaxed energy continued through their last number, “The Whiffenpoof Song,” which dates back to the founding of the group and always ends their performances.
The Whiffenpoofs, who travel all around the world, take their senior year off so they can dedicate it to performing. Their jaunt to the D.C. area includes shows in Silver Spring and Bethesda, while upcoming performances have them traveling to more exotic destinations like Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Choral director Jeff Davidson took advantage of the group’s visit and booked them to perform for the music department. The show was an experience students could enjoy, appreciate and learn from, he said.
“It’s a model, seeing a group of people that are considered the top of the field,” he said.
Junior Jorge Richardson found the performance both inspiring and relatable since, as college students, the group was an example to follow.
“They were young enough that we could relate to them, but they were also something we could aspire to be in the future,” he said.