The Yale Whiffenpoofs

On Friday, the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm — Yale’s prestigious all-senior a cappella groups — announced their classes of 2023.

The Whiffenpoofs, an all-gender singing group, are known for their selectiveness: they only choose 14 seniors every year. They are the oldest a capella group at Yale University, and their repertoire covers a variety of genres: traditional Yale tunes, jazz standards and pop songs. 

“Being in the Whiffs is a fantastic opportunity to make music with a great group of people and travel to amazing places while doing it,” incoming Whiffenpoof Ian Berlin ’23 said. “Especially after losing so much time touring with my current a cappella group, Mixed Company, because of COVID-19, I was eager for the opportunity to get more time traveling and singing with friends.”

This year, due to the large number of students who took gap semesters or gap years during the pandemic, anyone with 1-3 semesters left at Yale was eligible to audition for the Whiffenpoofs. 

Whiffs are all required to take a gap year to fully commit their time to performances and recording an album.

The Whiffs traditionally go on an international tour, performing more than 200 concerts across six continents. However, due to the pandemic, they have not been able to perform abroad for the past two years. Recently tapped Whiff Carl Viyar ’23 noted that the new class does plan to tour internationally in 2022 and 2023. 

“I’m most excited for the music, the touring, and the people,” Viyar said. “I’ve made some of my closest bonds over the years going on tour and singing with [Yale a cappella group] the Alley Cats, and I’m super excited to form new bonds with new music and new people.” 

The Whiffenpoofs tapped Berlin, Viyar, Seoho Kim, Adrien Rolet, Dania Baig, Will Salaverry, Evelyn Huilin Wu, Jacob Kaufman-Shalett, Ben Kramer, Waruguru Kibuga, Sharon Ahn, Adrian Kyle Venzon, Owen Wheeler and Katumu Tuchscherer. 

Whim n Rhythm tapped Ivana Barnes, Bella Bolayon, Sophie Kyle Collins, Chibuzo Enelamah, Emilia Fernández, Sophia Hall, Ellie Latham, Alex Lawson, Baylina Pu, and Isabella Zou. 

The Whim ’n Rhythm has a dynamic history. They were founded by seven female seniors in 1981 who wanted a senior a capella group for women, mirroring the traditions of the all-male Whiffenpoofs. They tour both domestically and internationally, performing in cities such as Hong Kong and Cairo.

According to their website, this year’s class of Whiffenpoofs plan to tour Japan, South Africa, Australia, India and other countries in the summer of 2022.

“I am looking forward to being able to keep making music during the rest of my time here, and also getting to know my tap class better,” Whim tap Ivana Barnes ’23 said. “They have such a beautiful sound and incredible arrangements, and I feel so lucky to get to sing with such talented people next year.”

The pandemic posed a challenge to the audition process this year. Usually, auditions would be held in-person — but this year, both the Whiffs and Whim ’n Rhythm decided to hold their auditions online. 

According to Viyar, the audition experience consisted of a 15-minute Zoom audition involving warmups, ear training, sight-reading, a practiced quartet and a personal solo. Despite having to adapt to an online format, he said pre-recording the process made him “less worried about audio issues.” 

“While I would have loved to be in a real audition room, Whim was somehow able to bring the excitement and positivity that are very characteristic of Yale a capella auditions into the zoom room!” Barnes said. “They made the whole process feel a lot less intimidating and more fun than I could have imagined given all of the restrictions we had to deal with this year.”

Juniors tapped into Whim ’n Rhythm and Whiffenpoofs spoke about the excitement of ending their Yale journey alongside a new community. 

“I think a capella is such a huge part of Yale, but Whim is particularly special because of how it honors the generations of women at Yale,” Whim tap Ellie Lathan ’23 said. “I also think senior groups are just a different dynamic and so fun.” 

The Whiffenpoofs are set to perform in Nashville, Tennessee this week. 

OLIVIA CHARIS
RUTH LEE
Ruth Lee covers Film and Literature for the Arts Desk, as well as writes for the Weekend and records for the Podcask Desk. From New York City, Ruth is a freshman in Timothy Dwight college, majoring in History and English.