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‘Whiffs’ to Perform at Montpelier High School

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The Whiffenpoofs of Yale University –  The world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a Capella group Saturday, March 5, 7:30 p.m., Elley-Long Center, Colchester ... Sunday, March 6, 3 p.m., Smilie Auditorium, Montpelier High School
The Whiffenpoofs of Yale University – The world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a Capella group Saturday, March 5, 7:30 p.m., Elley-Long Center, Colchester … Sunday, March 6, 3 p.m., Smilie Auditorium, Montpelier High School

by Nat Frothingham

MONTPELIER — Firsts!

There are so many firsts about the upcoming appearance of the nationally and internationally famous 14-member (all-male) Yale University vocal ensemble, the Whiffenpoofs, on Sunday afternoon, March 6 at 3 p.m. in the Smilie Auditorium at Montpelier High School.

In a recent phone call to The Bridge, artistic director of Capital City Concerts Karen Kevra ran down her list of firsts.

“This is unlike anything we’ve ever done before,” Kevra said. “We’ve never had a vocal ensemble before. That’s a first. We’ve never had a collegiate group. That’s something new.” And Capitol City Concerts has never performed at Montpelier High School.

And one other possible first that can’t be confirmed: It’s not unlikely that this is the first-ever appearance of the Whiffenpoofs in Montpelier. When I tried to confirm or deny whether the Whiffs had ever appeared here before, I talked with Whiff singer Julian Drucker. He thought “yes they had.” But he couldn’t be sure. He could only guess that in the long history of the Whiffs, they might have performed in Montpelier once upon a time.

And what about that long history.

The Whiffenpoofs describe themselves on their webpage as “the world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. According to history and legend, the Whiffs began informally in 1909 when five of the very best singers from the Yale Glee Club first convened at Mory’s Temple Bar, a popular student hangout close to the Yale campus. Over the years the Whiffs have become know for their love of singing, their love of singing together, of improvising, touring and having a great time doing all this.

As things have evolved, today’s Whiffs consist of a 14-member vocal ensemble chosen through auditions during their junior year at Yale to take a solid year off and rehearse and sing and tour — and also — give pleasure.

Said Julian Drucker who is a Whiff, who is 22, whose parents are notable classical musicians who have often visited and performed in Montpelier: “We are taking the year off. We don’t have a schedule. We perform over 100 concerts.”

But it’s not all rehearsals, singing and travel. There’s plenty of time for enjoyment. The Whiffs still sing at Mory’s. And their five-week tour this spring includes the March 5 and 6 visit to Vermont. After that it’s St. Louis and the American South with stops in Atlanta, and the southern states of Tennessee, Virginia and Florida. After Florida, the Whiffs will travel to Rio de Janeiro, on to Peru with a visit to Cusco high in the Peruvian Andes, then to the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu, then north to Ecuador and the Galapagos Island.

At age 21 or 22 who wouldn’t want to take leave of college for a year, join a singing group, learn 100 wonderful songs, and tour the world?

But for all of the high stakes excitement of singing, touring, performing, Drucker came across as astonishingly down to earth and unaffected — a college student who comes from a musical family, loves jazz, plays the piano, likes playing the French horn, as he said, “casually.”

As part of her phone call with The Bridge, Karen Kevra spoke of her highest hopes for the concert. “We are trying to attract younger audiences. I would like to see a concert that’s full of young people.” She said, sensing excitement from that age group and it was a conscious decision to put the Whiffs in Montpelier High School.

For further information about Capital City Concerts or to purchase tickets, please go online to: www.capitalcityconcerts.org

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