At the 105th Reunion in 2014, YWA initiated the Silver Dollar Quartet Championship, honoring the original Silver Dollar Quartet members.
The Silver Dollar Quartet tradition started only 13 years after the Whiffs’ founding in 1909.
In 1922, Prescott Bush ’17 convinced Chuck Spofford ’18, Dick Kimball ’22, and Minot “Minnie” Dole ’23 to join him in founding the Silver Dollar Quartet (SDQ) as a means of continuing an active singing life beyond New Haven. All four were recent Whiff “Managers,” as the Popo was called in the very early years.
These men would lead prolific, storied careers in government and public service, and the SDQ would continue – for more than forty years – to harmonize and entertain all who would listen at Glee Club, Whiffenpoof, and other Yale reunions, as well as at scores of parties and gatherings from Florida to Maine. It was a true standard of the positive effects being a Whiffenpoof can have on our lives.
That positive effect continues. On October 12, 2019, the Silver Dollar Quartet will be honored once more at the 110th Reunion Banquet. All interested Whiff alumni are strongly encouraged to participate.
Here’s a link to more about SDQ-History.
105th Reunion Champions
In the Masters Division, four long-lived Whiff Alumni—Ash Gulliver ’55, Al Atherton ’59, Jonathan Bush ’53, and Kem Edwards ’49, singing as The Elm City Four—were named as Masters Champions after a hard-fought competition with two runner-up groups.
The Open Division winners came from a single Whiff Year: 2012. The Drams from the Firkin—Jeremy Lloyd, Jack O’Reilly, Alexander Oki, and Patrick Rutan—were acclaimed as Open Champions by the enthusiastic response from Whiff Alumni and guests.
How This Year’s Competition Will Work
In each Division, there are 10 slots for competing quartets / quintets.
Each quartet is to prepare two songs: one assigned by the judges, and one elective.
- The Assigned Song is the Yale standard, Bandolero, downloadable at the link.
- The Elective Song may be chosen from any source at the discretion of the singers, including new arrangements, as well as from common sources like the Yale Songbook or Whiffenpoof Songbook. Many of these arrangements are available at the Whiff Alumni Media Library as downloadable pdfs.
Preparation for the competition is also wholly up to each quartet. As soon as group’s members are named and songs are chosen, a quartet may rehearse a handful of times, or daily, or in the week before the Reunion, or as soon as a quartet is registered for the championship.
The 20 competitive slots will be divided into two judged flights:
* The Masters Division competition is intended for singers from the classes of 1945 – 1980.
* The Open Division is for all post-1980 Whiffenpoof alumni and for any quartet comprised of singers from both sides of the 1980 demarcation year.
There will be two rounds to the competition. In the first preliminary round, each quartet will perform its Elective Song for a panel of judges. This preliminary round will take place from 3:30 – 4:30pm on Friday, October 11, in a performance venue to be announced.
The second preliminary round, performance of the Assigned Song (Bandolero), will take place on Saturday, October 12 from 9:30am – 10:30am at a venue to be announced.
(If your quartet cannot arrive in New Haven until late Friday or Saturday, we’ll make arrangements to accommodate your group’s performing both songs at a different time.)
Each group will be judged on harmonization, blend, effective dynamics, artistic interpretation, and showmanship. The select panel of judges for the preliminary rounds will be special guests of the Reunion duly qualified for the assignment.
The judges will select up to three Finalists in each of the Open and Masters Divisions.
Each Finalist will perform its elective song during the Reunion Banquet on Saturday night. A champion will be chosen in both the Open and Masters Divisions by Audience acclamation. Boisterous demonstrations by claques will be accepted as acclaim generators . . . (paid claques preferred).
The Champions in each Division will be duly honored and recognized with the coveted Silver Dollar Cup.
* All Champion group members will be given a plaque acknowledging their accomplishments.
* Subsequently, the names of each Champion group and the group’s members will be inscribed on the SDQ Cup base.
The SDQ Cup — with inscriptions for the 110th Championship — will be returned to its place of honor above the Cole Porter Bar at Mory’s, to provide a stimulus for crowing rights over the next five years.
Registering Your Group
To participate in the 110th SDQ Championship, your group must register in advance.
Each group must consist of either four or five members – “Quartet” or “Quintet.”
Each member of each group must be a Whiff alum, with name and Whiff Year as carried in the Whiff Alumni roster.
Each group has wide latitude to determine its own composition. Members may be: from a single Whiff year or multiple years; from the same era or different decades; a standing group with years of seasoning; a brand-new “pick-up” group organized for this reunion.
Groups registering for the competition must provide the name, Whiff year and voice part for each member.
A group may change its makeup in advance of the competition (up to 5 PM ET Monday, October 7) but must notify the SDQ Competition Administrator by filing a revised Registration.
Individuals may participate in more than one group but must register as a member of each group in which s/he intends to participate.
* Download the Registration Form. Open, print, and follow the instructions for completing and mailing your registration to: SDQ Registration, Yale Whiffenpoof Alumni, Inc., P.O. Box 201712, New Haven CT 06520-1712.
* Alternatively, after filling out the form, scan and save it as a pdf file. Attach a copy of this pdf file to an email and send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Join In!
That’s the story. Now it’s your turn. Get yourselves organized and join in the fun!
Be part of this NEW Whiff tradition — a mark of musical prowess available to be sought just once every five years.
Long after Whiff Tap, this is your chance, once again, for musical glory . . . to join the legends of Prescott Bush and his brethren.
Round up your harmonizers, sign up, and sing!