Saturday, July 20, 2019
Whiffenpoofs Break With Tradition to Enjoy Mixed Company
The Yale Whiffenpoofs sang a free set at Sun Valley Resort Thursday afternoon as snow guns fired up on Bald Mountain behind them.
Saturday, October 20, 2018


Sophia Campoamor broke through 109 years of tradition this year.

She became the first female to join The Whiffenpoofs--the nation’s oldest collegiate a cappella group in the nation.

Sun Valley music lovers became among the first to get a look at The Whiffenpoofs’ first female singing amidst 13 young men as they sang their first set for the 29th annual Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival Thursday afternoon on a picture perfect fall day on the lawn in front of the Sun Valley Inn’s Duck Pond.

Sophia Campoamor steps out in front to sing Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now.”

Campoamor introduced herself to the audience at Sun Valley Resort tongue-in-cheek as studying to be a carnivore “because I want a steak (stake?) in my future.” She joined in providing background “ba da ba da booms” to “House of the Rising Sun,” snapping her fingers at the appropriate minutes.

Then she stepped in front of the group and led with her version of Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now.”

“I like the integration,” a man who appeared to be in his 70s told Campoamor following the performance. “There should be more females in the group.”

Campoamor sang for two years with Yale University’s first all-gender a cappella group Mixed Company. She composed songs for that group and served as the group’s music director.

Sophia Campoamor joins hands with some of the boys as they sing songs like Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection.”

Then, when Yale’s two senior a cappella groups—the female Whim ‘n Rhythm and the male Whiffenpoofs--announced they were opening their auditions to all genders, she took her place among 50 others trying out for The Whiffenpoofs.

“They have a level of resources and opportunity the other groups don’t because they’ve been around so long,” she said. “And this is the only group that travels—you have a full year of traveling through the United States and then overseas in places like Thailand.”

Campoamor was selected as a member of the group that was founded in 1909 after two weeks of auditions.  She sang soprano for Mixed Company but she’ll sing tenor for the Whiffenpoofs, which is comprised of tenors, basses and baritones.

She composed her first songs in middle school in Washington, D.C., where she grew up. They weren’t the normal girl-loves-boy songs.

Composed for class assignments, one was about the chemical element platinum. The second was about the Greek epic “The Odyssey.”

Buoyed by their success, she is now majoring in music at Yale. Specifically, composition.

But, while Mixed Company sang a couple of her songs, so far she has not leant one of her songs to the Whiffenpoofs repertoire.

“Maybe later,” she said.

Campoamor’s fellow Whiffs are glad to have her.

“It’s really not much different. We decided she can sing the part and that’s all that counts,” said Director Jacob Miller.

Campoamor said she loves being around 13 great singers, whether male or female.

“It’s a great way to learn from others,” she said. “You hear three people do the same songs and you get all kinds of different ways to sing.”


The Yale Whiffenpoofs will present four more free concerts as the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival.

They’ll sing at 11 a.m. today—Saturday, Oct. 20—at Sun Valley Resort’s Boiler Room. They’ll follow that concert with one at 3 p.m. at the Duck Pond outside the Sun Valley Inn and another at 8 p.m. at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.

They will finish their appearances here with a free concert at 9 a.m. Sunday at The Boiler Room before heading to Boise where they will do a benefit concert for Borah High School choirs on Monday night.


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