This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Courtesy William Lefferts

AirCappella is Giving a Little Whistle

Early this month Louisburg, North Carolina – the “world’s whistling capital” – will host the International Whistlers Convention, and Vassar’s own AirCappella will be there to perform in the opening ceremony. AirCappella, for the uninitiated, is one of Vassar’s more unique student organizations. It is an a cappella group…where no one sings, and everyone whistles.

“We were originally just a group of recreational whistlers,” says William Lefferts ’13, the group’s co-president. “Then we started acting more like an a cappella group.” For Lefferts, it’s been a serendipitous opportunity. “I played cello for seven or eight years before Vassar, so I had a musical background,” he explains. “A cappella was a draw, but I can’t really sing. But I can whistle.”

AirCappella became a VSA-approved organization in 2005 and the 10-member group has been whistling a happy tune since. It puts on spring and fall concerts, each with a 10-song set list that can range from Beethoven to the Beatles to Lady Gaga.

During the semester, AirCappella’s members can be found singing at a number of on-campus events and venues, and a few off-campus ones, too (such as the Arlington Street Fair and an elementary school on Raymond Avenue).

As quirky as whistling a cappella may sound, the group has garnered an impressive amount of attention. A YouTube video of AirCappella performing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” one of the group’s signature songs, has logged more than 132,000 views. Lefferts says he’s been contacted by students at other colleges, such as Duke and Colgate, interested in starting their own groups. In 2009, AirCappella made it to the 2nd round of auditions on America’s Got Talent. And in 2010, the Huffington Post named AirCappella in its roundup of “Best of Collegiate A Cappella.” – Peter Bronski

April 2011

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