As bass singer Adrian Kyle Venzon sang the jazzy melody of “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole, the 13 other members of the Whiffenpoofs accompanied him with rhythmic snaps and vocalized harmonies.
As a member of Keynotes, an a cappella group on campus, Jade Shi ’25 reflected on how seeing the Whiffenpoofs’ performance inspired her to continue pursuing her passion for singing.
“That was very inspiring, hearing them sing, that people [that] were around seven years older than us are able to do such things, being able to go on tours…. I was just very impressed by how much chemistry they had for each other and how well they blended their voices and just the passion they have for singing and for the a cappella group. It just kind of motivated me to continue my passion for singing and this year I’m in Keynotes, so to just have fun with that,” said Shi.
Last Friday night, Yale University’s Whiffenpoofs, the country’s oldest collegiate a cappella group, performed in Kemper Auditorium as part of their Boston tour. According to Will Salaverry, the Whiffenpoofs’ business manager and bass singer, the group calls concerts like Friday’s “hometown concerts,” as they are performances at their members’ hometowns. Salaverry talked about how tenor II singer Evelyn Huilin Wu ’19, enjoyed returning to Andover and seeing her former music mentor, Abbey Siegfried, Chair in Music.
“We will be going to Beijing later in the year to celebrate [Wu] in her real hometown, but in her Andover hometown, it was really nice to just be there and see the way that she lit up entering the auditorium, seeing Siegfried again, and her sister being in the crowd,” said Salaverry.
In addition, a cappella groups at Andover had the opportunity to perform for the Whiffenpoofs at a masterclass prior to the concert. According to Venzon, hearing the students sing inspired him as he felt they demonstrated notable talent and passion for singing even at the high-school age.
“I would say one of my favorite moments was having the chance to hear all of the Andover a cappella groups sing. I think just because it’s always nice to see that even at a young age… people are taking [singing] super seriously and are super passionate. And so seeing so much talent and just genuine love for music on stage was really inspiring [for me],” said Venzon.
Overall, through these concerts, Salaverry hopes to positively affect the audience during the performance. He described how the Whiffenpoofs also recently performed at a memorial and helped a widow shift from grief to retrospection, as her late husband enjoyed listening to their music.
“For some people it’s, ‘I was stressed going in, coming out I’m whistling songs, and maybe things don’t feel so stressed.’ Sometimes, you know, we performed at a memorial recently where it brought a really solemn but sort of beautiful feeling to the widow of this man who used to listen to the Whiffenpoofs all the time…. It wasn’t necessarily happiness, but it was remembrance,” said Salaverry.
Looking forward, the Whiffenpoofs will start their three-week fall tour on Monday. Their itinerary will pass through more members’ hometowns, including Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and more. Later in the spring and summer, the Whiffenpoofs will tour in places like Sweden, Kenya, China, and Australia. While he initially joined the Whiffenpoofs for this unique opportunity to travel the world, Salaverry emphasized the value of the bonds he’s formed within this community.
“I have this dream of, after college, doing a travel book… I’m legally blind, and so the idea is that it’s a people-with-disabilities-can-travel-as-well book. And so when I found out about the Whiffenpoofs and how much they travel, it felt like a really nice stepping stone to something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And then I also just love to sing and I knew Adrian before the group, I knew a few others before the group and have loved everyone I’ve gotten to meet, so I think it was at first to travel and then quickly became the people,” said Salaverry.