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Saxe Middle School choral students learn from the pros

Saxe Middle School choral students learn from the pros
During two exclusive student performances by Yale’s Whiffenpoofs


Yale Whiffenpoofs

Yale University Whiffenpoofs at Saxe Middle School

During two recent appearances at Saxe Middle School, Yale University’s Whiffenpoofs provided the school’s 7th and 8th grade choral students an opportunity to experience what might be in some of their own futures.

Yale Whiffenpoofs enter Saxe Auditorium The Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group, gave exclusive student performances for approximately 150 seventh graders and 130 eighth graders in the Saxe Middle School Auditorium on September 25, 2019.

The Whiffenpoofs performing at Saxe Middle School The Whiffenpoofs, comprised of 14 selected Yale seniors, sang a pitch perfect medley of songs while entertaining the young crowd with humorous introductions of each other and a mock spelling bee. The set list mixed popular material by Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, Michael Bublé, and Simon & Garfunkle with Yale collegiate songs, as well one of Cole Porter’s standards, “Anything Goes.” Porter, himself, was a member of the Whiffenpoofs during his years at Yale in the 1920s.

“This is a significant experience for Saxe students, because the Whiffenpoofs are a world-class performing group,” said Trevor Leckie, Saxe Middle School’s 7th and 8th grade Chorus Director. “They tour extensively around the United States and throughout the world. For our students to be able to hear that caliber of performance ‘live’ is an incredible opportunity.”

Yale Whiffenpoofs perform Mr. Leckie coordinated the Whiffenpoofs appearance in the district with Alan Sneath, Director of Visual and Performing Arts, and he explained that the Yale choral group’s appearance coincides perfectly with Saxe’s music curriculum, specifically in what students will soon be studying in class.

“We are currently working on a rhythm project that will be morphing into a vocal percussion project similar to the type performed by the Whiffenpoofs,” said Mr. Leckie. “We will also be incorporating similar music in our lessons and concerts as well as having the students try their hand at developing a capella arrangements of their favorite songs.”

The Whiffenpoofs perform

The Whiffenpoofs’ visit to the district has earned extremely high marks, according to Mr. Leckie. “I am receiving incredibly positive feedback,” he said, “and I would like to see us having them back to Saxe in two years. By that time, there will be an entirely different group of 7th and 8th graders who could appreciate their visit. These types of opportunities for our students are only possible because of the generous support of the Board of Education and the Town of New Canaan.”