By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – America’s oldest collegiate a Capella group, The Yale Whiffenpoofs of New Haven, Connecticut, have completed their yearlong world tour with a final appearance in Rio de Janeiro before heading home. The group performed for audiences over three consecutive days (February 14th till February 16th) starting at the Lapa cafe in Lapa, followed by the Cais de Oriente in downtown Rio and finally concluding with a concert at the Jubilee hall in Botafogo.
The Yale Whiffenpoof legacy has remained constant for over a hundred years, having been steadily passed on to each new set of undergraduates who, in turn, have helped keep the tradition alive. These young men strive not only to remain true to the original Whiffenpoofs of 1909, but also promote a Capella and incorporate a modern twist which resonates with today’s contemporary audiences.
Christine Rutherford from the BCS (The British and Commonwealth Society) watched the group’s final show at the Jubilee hall. Now a confirmed fan, Rutherford spoke warmly of the group and their performance, stating “The audience was as enthused as me, and made them go back on stage at least three times after the performance was finished!”
The Whiffenpoofs have gained wide spread appeal over the years, fueled in 2010, by their appearance on U.S. NBC show “the Sing off” in which the group transformed modern day hits such as Mika’s “Grace Kelly” and Michael Buble’s “Haven’t met you yet” in to Capella number’s.
It is this diverse mix of genres that could explain the group’s popularity across the world and in particular, Rio de Janeiro. According to Rutherford “We had people coming from different places and of different ages, and all of them had a great time!”
Undoubtedly, the Whiffenpoofs have made a big impact on Rio de Janeiro, and it seems the feeling is mutual. Michael Blume, member of the current Whiffenpoof group, spoke on behalf of his fellow members about their time in the city. “We’ve absolutely loved our time in Rio! The physical location and the people have been so nice and generous.”
Long term Yale graduate and Whiffenpoof fan, Ben Edwards, watched the group perform at the Cais de Oriente in Downtown last Wednesday. Following the concert, he expressed his pride at the continuation of one of Yale’s best loved customs, and his joy of seeing them in his resident city, Rio de Janeiro.
According to Edwards, the Whiffenpoofs appeal lies in their modern approach to what is essentially, a very traditional group. “Their signature song, ‘The Whiffenpoof song,’ has been widely circulated over the years. They get booked in to high class gigs and white tie events, projecting a mite of class. I think they’ve been well received wherever they sing in these parts.”
Sadly, the final leg of their world tour culminates in Rio, after which the boys will head back to campus to complete their final year and the baton will be passed on to a new set of future Whiffenpoofs. For Blume, it has been the perfect end to a memorable year, and he is keen to state that Rio has not seen the last of The Whiffenpoofs.
“While this trip marks the last time this particular group of Whiffenpoofs will be performing in Rio, the group generally returns every year. As such, perhaps a future iteration of the Whiffenpoofs will come and enjoy the wonders of Rio.”
Those who may have missed the Whiffenpoofs, need not feel too disappointed however, in light of the boys success, two musical groups comprised of Yale undergraduates are planning to make separate appearances in Rio during March and May. Though dates have not yet been confirmed, look out for further details nearer the time.