Courtesy of the Yale Whiffenpoofs

The Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm — Yale’s two all-senior a cappella groups — announced their newest taps on Monday evening.

Auditions for both groups took place Feb. 16 through Feb. 19, with students with one to three semesters left at Yale eligible to audition. The News spoke to seven incoming Whiffs and Whims about their induction to the groups.

“I’m super excited to be the new music director and am honored to have been chosen by the current Whiffs,” Peter Sykes ’24 said. “It honestly didn’t feel real at first, I’m just thrilled and so grateful to have this opportunity. I’m sure it will be a lot of work, but I’m excited to take on this new challenge.”

Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm are both known for their selectivity, recruiting only 14 and 13 members each year, respectively. Both the Whiffenpoofs’ and Whim ’n Rhythm’s repertoires include jazz, pop and traditional songs of the University. 

Historically, the Whiffenpoofs was Yale’s all-male senior group and Whim ’n Rhythm was the all-female senior group. Since 2018, both groups have admitted members of all genders, with the Whiffs selecting singers with tenor and bass vocal ranges and the Whims tapping sopranos and altos.

“I saw this past year Whim made adjustments so people of any gender would feel welcome and I developed the upper end of my vocal range. I became really determined to make Whim my last go at singing in a group at Yale,” Whim ’n Rhythm tap Jeffrey Steele ’24 wrote to the News. “I’m very excited to get my hands on the sheet music of songs I’ve been listening to previous years of the group sing and for us to take a swing at it.”

The Whiffs are required to take a gap year to dedicate time to international touring and recording an album. The Whims tour during the winter and spring of their senior year and during the summer after their commencement, but are not required to take time away from instruction. 

While neither group has yet set a location for their tours, members expressed excitement for the year ahead.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone better and embark on this adventure together,” incoming Whim business manager Adia Keene ’24 told the News. “Also, it seems like a great way to visit some continents I’ve never been to before.”

This summer, outgoing Whims will perform in countries including Japan and Greece, and the outgoing Whiffenpoofs are set to visit India and Norway, among others.

The Whiffs tapped Sykes, Abigail Yadegar ’24, Josh Gonzalez ’24, Sarah Sotomayor ’24, Sam Ahn ’24, Gabby Montuori ’24, Clay Jamieson ’24, Sebastian Li ’24, Liam Richardson ’24, Iris Yang ’24, Jake Latts ’24, Luke Tillitski ’24, Avalon Scarola ’24 and Ethan Kopf ’24.

Whim ’n Rhythm new members include Keene, Steele, Esther Park ’24, Anne Lin ’24, Annaelise Kennedy ’24, Nita Qiu ’24, Aditi Narayanan ’24, Bea Maron Schaeffer ’24, Natalie Luong ’24, Mariana Peña ’24, Lily Pérez ’24, Julia Oladipo ’24 and Mikayla Labissiere ’24.

The incoming classes of Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm come from a variety of other a cappella groups at Yale, including Out of the Blue, The New Blue and The Doox of Yale.

“I have just been focusing on expressing gratitude for my family, music teachers, friends, and current a cappella group (OOTB), who have all been important parts of my musical education,” Yadegar wrote to the News. “I could not have done this without their love and encouragement.”

The Whiffs’ audition process consisted of a 25-minute session with current members. Prospective Whiffs took part in warm-ups and ear exercises, harmonized with the group and prepared two solos — one with the current Whiffs singing in the background and the other by themselves.

On Monday afternoon, all auditionees for the Whiffenpoofs mistakenly received an email saying that they had been rejected and thanking them for their enthusiasm. A follow-up email from the Whiffenpoofs Audition Team shortly after explained the mistake and apologized for any distress the email could have caused. The Whiffenpoofs Audition Team did not respond to request for comment on the accidental email.

“I was definitely disappointed for the very brief moment before the correction went out, but not as much as I’d imagined — when you audition for a group like the Whiffs, I think you have to mentally prepare yourself for the worst just because everyone who tries out is so incredibly talented and capable,” Gonzalez said. “I’m mostly grateful they corrected the mistake so quickly.”

According to Keene, the audition process for the senior groups was more “straightforward” than the fall a cappella rush process. Prospective members attended information sessions and opportunities to hear the groups sing, and took part in just a single audition instead of a round of callbacks — those vying for a leadership presentation had to give an additional presentation.

Incoming Whiffs and Whims conveyed excitement for their new a cappella group and touring schedule next year.

“I am really grateful for not only getting an opportunity to grow as a singer and musician, but to find a community of kind and supportive people who have a shared interest,” Keene said. “I auditioned for Whim because it’s an opportunity to kind of build on that community of amazing people who love to sing with a group of seniors who are all kind of going through the same thing, with graduation and life after Yale on the horizon.”

The Whiffenpoofs were founded in 1909 and Whim ’n Rhythm in 1981.

TRISTAN HERNANDEZ
Tristan Hernandez is the 147th Editor in Chief and President of the Yale Daily News. He previously served as a copy editor and covered student policy & affairs and student life for the University desk. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a junior in Pierson College majoring in political science.