Singing for their supper


They’re the self-described grandfathers of a cappella, and they’re heading our way.

After a starring role on hit TV show Glee and performing in hundreds of shows around the world, the Whiffenpoofs are returning to Queenstown for a show at the Hotel St Moritz tonight.

The group is comprised of 14 senior students from the prestigious Yale University in the United States.

This year has been a momentous one for the group.

After announcing in February students of all genders would be eligible to join, the Whiffenpoofs welcomed their first female member, Sofia Campoamor.

Member and group manager Ian Billinge says the group’s excited about performing in the resort.

While it’s not the first time the Whiffenpoofs have sung here, it’s the first time for this particular group, as singers can only stay in the group for one year.

While a cappella has been made famous by Glee and movies like Pitch Perfect, the Whiffenpoofs have been strutting their stuff for a lot longer.

We are in fact the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the US,” Billinge says.

”We’re the grandfathers of the tradition, we were founded more than a century ago.”

And with a long history like that, the group’s members take it seriously.

Each singer takes a year off their studies to tour with the group, performing 175 concerts and becoming “semi-professional musicians”, Billinge says.

If it sounds different to how a cappella’s portrayed on the big screen, you’d be half right.

Billinge says some collegiate a cappella groups do train and come up with “really polished” performances to compete at the national champs.

“Collegiate a cappella, in the States, is very big.”

While the Whiffenpoofs don’t compete in real life, they did have a crack during their appearance on Glee, where they performed as the fictional Waffletoots.

Throughout its history the group’s also performed on shows such as Saturday Night Live, Gilmore Girls, and The West Wing.

Billinge says their show in Queenstown will include a cappella classics and a few new tunes, the famous ‘Whiffenpoofs Song’, and some comedy thrown in.

“It should be a great time.”

This year’s show will also serve as a fundraiser, with all proceeds going to Cure Kids NZ.

The Whiffenpoofs will perform at the Hotel St Moritz, tonight, 7pm, tickets $120, includes three-course meal and glass of bubbles