After nearly 15 months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 Whiffenpoofs finally releases “Whiffs on Ice”
The 2020 Whiffenpoofs, one of Yale’s most renowned vocal groups, have released their new album after an almost 15-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with the release of the album “Whiffs on Ice”, the band hosted a live premiere event on September 23. The project began as one of the hallmarks of a normal Whiffenpoof year, which includes international and national tours followed by the release of an album. But they were cut in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Although the band toured the country for three weeks over the summer, they were only able to resume album production in person after they returned to Yale in the fall of 2021.
“We’re really a year and three months behind – after the success and touring of COVID-19 became impossible, we really only had the album to look forward to and we really took our time with it,” Alex DiMeglio ’20 +1, musical director of the Whiffenpoofs and co-producer of “Whiffs on Ice”, said.
The 2020 Whiffs recorded the album in two stages – one before the pandemic and one after the pandemic. In the pre-pandemic stage, the group recorded in person at the home studio of Ed Boyer, a Connecticut sound engineer. After the pandemic, registration with Boyer became impossible. But according to DiMeglio, starting in November, the group could record at a New Haven studio called Firehouse 12 which had “strict” COVID-19 protocols. For example, if the group was recording with three people at a time, each person would have to stay in a separate room, isolated from the others, and sing into a microphone. According to DiMeglio, this was both in line with Yale’s health guidelines and a way to protect group members.
“Whiffs on Ice” has 17 tracks, 10 of which were arranged by the members of the 2020 Whiffenpoofs and seven of them are older arrangements by the previous members. Although the band officially has six arrangers, each member has a solo on the album and three songs feature all of the band members.
“Everyone got to choose their own song as well, so the album as a whole is representative of everyone as an individual,” said Scott Etan Feiner ’19 +1, assistant musical director of the 2020 Whiffenpoofs and co-producer of “Whiffs on Ice. ”According to Feiner, the group’s inability to tour due to the pandemic expanded their capabilities and provided extra time for the album to become a 2020 Whiffs’ statement.
The Whiffs and soprano-alto group Whim ‘n Rhythm are the only a cappella groups on campus whose members are fully replaced each year. According to Feiner, this allows everyone to have their part in the creation of the album, since all the members were on the same page and wanted the album to be an “expression” of the group. The production of the album also allowed the members to stay in touch when it was impossible for them to be physically present with each other.
“Especially for me, I’m a year older than everyone else in the group, so I wasn’t on campus when everyone was spending their last pandemic year on campus,” Feiner said. “And it was nice to be able to come to New Haven to conduct music, conduct recording sessions, work on arrangements with other people, do something musically collaborative in a time when it didn’t happen. . “
As the Commercial Director of the Whiffs 2020, Mark Gustaferro ’20 +1 was in charge of booking all performances, logistics of potential trips and managing the group’s organizational and financial operations. According to Gustaferro, the album was an “ambitious” project, as much of the album consisted of new arrangements. He added that the production of the album is “awesome and sort of a miracle”, given that the majority of the recording took place in the band’s final year after the 2020 Whiffs were replaced by the class. from 2021.
“I am personally very grateful to the people in my Whiffenpoofs class who have stepped up to help manage the complex logistics operations surrounding COVID-19 and record an album safely during a pandemic,” Gustaferro said. “IMHO I think the music is spectacular and Alex and Scott did an amazing job with [it]. “
The Whiffenpoofs, founded in 1909, are the oldest a cappella college group in the country.