A touch of whimsy led to the 'Gentlemen Songsters' of Yale naming themselves The Whiffenpoofs after one of the characters in a Victor Herbert musical comedy. Don't let the name fool you. This group of 14 fresh-faced Yale men is very, very talented and has a 96-year-old history behind it as one of the best collegiate a cappella groups in the United States.
The 2003 group-a new batch is culled from the Yale senior men every year-is on their annual world tour and we are very fortunate to have them here in our patch of the Himalaya. And there could be no better setting than Bir Shumshere's entertainment theatre, Naachghar, now a part of the Yak & Yeti Hotel. I had the pleasure of watching them in performance before, and must warn you that Whiffenpoofian (!) joie de vivre is highly infectious.
The group takes the stage impeccably turned out in tuxedos-complete with pristine white gloves-but are far from stodgy. In fact, they are renowned for their 'presence' that includes much jumping around and the occasional dance routine. As I recall, they carry the old Yale-Harvard-Princeton rivalry right under the arc lights through outrageous jokes, all at the expense of the other Ivy Leaguers, charming the audience into a complicit understanding that Yale is undoubtedly the best of the lot. The Whiffenpoofs repertoire is an eclectic mix of traditional Yale songs, Broadway favourites and traditional folk songs from all around the world. The Bohemian Marching Song "Aj, Lucka, Lucka Siroka" is a favourite opener that will set your feet tapping.
The Whiffenpoofs of 2001, 2002 and 2003 have three albums to their credit, so at the end of the evening if you need to stock up on a little of their legendary aural pleasure, you can leave with a CD, two or maybe even three.