In the evening, Foxcroft’s Engelhard Gymnasium would be filled to capacity for the Whiffenpoofs’ concert -- free and open to the public as a gift from the School to the community -- but in the afternoon, the talented Yale seniors who comprise the group spent 90 minutes working with Foxcroft’s two a cappella groups, Chorale, and a sprinkling of other student singers.
The men listened to each group sing, gave tips and suggestions, and had them sing again. Then they took the girls through some warm-up and voice-strengthening drills and answered questions about everything from how often the group practices and what to expect in an audition for a collegiate group to how they pay the rent. This year, for the first time, every member of the group is taking a year off to accommodate a concert schedule that involves traveling to dozens of states and all seven continents. After that, it was off to eat and continue chatting at Foxcroft’s Dining Hall before the concert.
And what a concert it was! Singing a range of familiar tunes from “You are the Sunshine of My Life” and “Midnight Train to Georgia” to “When the Saints go Marching In,” the energetic young men, outfitted in white ties and tails, held the audience rapt with their close harmonies and sharp choreography. A highlight for the Foxcroft girls no doubt came when one of their own, senior Atty B., took the stage to be serenaded -- nay, vocally vied over -- by two soloists with Marvin Gaye’s ”If I Could Build My Whole World Around You.”
When the group got ready to sing its famous final piece, “The Whiffenpoof Song,” former “Whiffs” were invited to join them onstage, as is tradition. William Hart, a Waterford, VA, resident and father of Foxcroft alumna Hawthorne Hart ’04, followed the call, providing another very special moment.
That song dates back to the founding of the Whiffenpoofs in 1909, when, it turns out, another Foxcroft father was present, a connection that Foxcroft Head of School Mary Louise Leipheimer shared when she welcomed the crowd. Carl C. Lohman, father of the late Ann Lohmann Fischer, Foxcroft ’39, was a member of Yale’s Class of 1910 and a member of The Whiffs when they were founded as a senior quartet that met weekly at Mory’s Temple Bar in New Haven, CT.
“What a wonderful night,” Leipheimer said afterwards.