Yale’s renowned Whiffenpoofs perform Sunday in Avon
Oldest collegiate acapella group started in a bar, play Sunday in a church
AVON — Like so many inspirations, Yale University’s Whiffenpoofs started in a bar.
Sure, they’re performing at 2 p.m. Sunday in Avon’s Eagle River Presbyterian Church, but God’s OK that they started in a bar — 110 years ago in Mory’s Temple Bar in New Haven, Connecticut.
The legend goes like this:
It was a cold January night when five of the Yale Glee Club’s best singers convened at Mory’s. Louis Linder, the tavern’s barkeep and a music aficionado, welcomed them in. Singing ensued and continues to this day. In fact, Mory’s remains the group’s home venue on Monday nights when they’re in New Haven, CT.
About that name
A century ago as their fame grew, they started casting about for a name. Denton “Goat” Fowler was amused by a joke featuring a mythical dragonfish named the Whiffenpoof. He suggested the name to the other four, who were equally amused and the name stuck.
These days they play 200 concerts a year and a 14-week world tour. They’ve sold out the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Among their audience members they count Mother Theresa, presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, the Dali Lama, capacity crowds at the World Series, and now you, if you show up Sunday.
The Whiffenpoof Song
The Whiffenpoofs are so cool that they have their own song, “The Whiffenpoof Song.”
American radio star Rudy Vallée had a hit with it in 1937. Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis, and Louis Armstrong all recorded it. The Army Air Force Rangers adopted it. They all did just fine with it. But if you want to hear it done properly, the Whiffenpoofs sing “The Whiffenpoof Song” at the end of every concert – like the one Sunday in Avon.