HomeSing together

From The Web's picture

A few weeks ago, I heard the Yale Whiffenpoofs, the 102-year old acappella group, perform in New Delhi. If you’ve heard collegiate male acappella groups before, you’ll agree that there’s something very endearing about fresh-faced, earnest-looking young men in black tuxedos and white gloves singing melodiously and in complete harmony in those wonderful baritone, bass and tenors. It can engender a warm, fuzzy feeling in the most indifferent heart.

Perhaps it’s to do with college nostalgia, a yearning for youth and idealism and a time when the world seemed yours to conquer. Or perhaps it’s just a function of the repertoire of collegiate acappellas, from rearranged hymns to Bollywood melodies or jazz-influenced pop, blues, Yiddish and rock. (The Whiffenpoofs began their performance with a Czech marching song!) Whatever the reason, listening to the ’Poofs, was enchanting. Their polished performance reminded me of Stanford University’s all-male South Asian focus acappella group, Raagappella, with its repertoire of Bollywood pop and traditional Hindustani or Carnatic raag-based music and original fusion pieces.

I remember listening, spellbound, as Indians, Taiwanese Hispanic, Japanese and blond Caucasians dressed in long, cream kurtas sang “Yeh Lamhe”, “Vande Mataram” and other Hindi (and Tamil) songs, instantly transporting me to the homeland’s rain-drenched monsoons, mangoes, sambhar-vada, chai and samosas. Raagappella, one of Stanford’s nine acappella groups, has since gone on to perform with A R Rahman at the Hollywood Bowl.

Read the rest