Yale’s Whiffenpoofs Engage in Cultural Exchange at Zhejiang University

From the melody of the Czech folk song “Aj Lučka, Lučka Široká” and the Mongolian folk song “Four Seas,” to the harmony of the Broadway musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” the stage was set for an extraordinary fusion. How did the intermingling of Chinese and foreign ballads with contemporary pop songs resonate when performed at the same stage?

On June 10, the Whiffenpoofs from Yale University and the Wenqin Choir from Zhejiang University came together to orchestrate an auditory feast. The event, aquiver with youthful vibrancy and marked by a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, was hosted in the Golden Hall of the School of Management at Zhejiang University. It attracted more than 400 guests, including Professor DU Jiangfeng, president of Zhejiang University, and Professor HE Lianzhen, Vice Chairperson of the Development Committee of Zhejiang University, among others.

Youthful resonance

The concert primarily featured a splendid array of a cappella performances that spanned various music genres, including traditional folk songs, pop music, classic songs, and original compositions. The audience was treated to enchanting renditions of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “The Whiffenpoof Song,” and “You Are the Music,” each performance greeted with warm rounds of applause. The musical journey reached a crescendo as Chinese and American youths united in voice to deliver the melodious “September Song,” leaving everyone with fond memories.

Peter Sykes, the music director of the Whiffenpoofs and a Yale University undergrad, reflected, “My team and I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Hearing the Wenqin students sing was a delight. Despite the vast distances that sperate us, our shared passion for music reveals that we have much more in common than we thought. Echoing these sentiments, JIN Zhengyuan, a member of the Wenqin Choir and a Zhejiang University undergrad, remarked, “Performing alongside the Whiffenpoofs was akin to engaging in a cross-continental conversation among the youth. Their musical talent was truly inspiring. As we moved to the tempo of the music, we experienced the captivating allure and harmony of differing cultures.”

This event was organized by the Office of Global Engagement and co-hosted by the Department of Public Physical and Art Education and the School of Management.

Cultural fusion

During their stay at Zhejiang University, the Whiffenpoofs participated in a series of cultural exchange activities.

The afternoon of June 10 saw a lend of culinary tradition and camaraderie as members from both choirs gathered to make Zongzi for the Dragon Boat Festival. Under the guidance of the canteen staff, the students engaged in this cultural craft while exchanging traditions and anecdotes related to the festival.

On the morning of June 11, a Chinese-American youth workshop took place in the West Teaching Building. There, the Whiffenpoofs and the Wenqin Choir introduced their respective development histories, organizational structures, training patterns, and member recruitment. They shared their performance and competition experiences and discussed their favorite types of music. Conversations extended into deeper areas, exploring the nuances of campus culture in China and the United States, the essence of humanities and arts, and the visions for personal growth, all within an ambiance that was both vibrant and cordial.

The Whiffenpoofs also visited the Zhejiang University History Museum. Guided by CHEN Siyu, a student docent from Qiushi Academy, the Whiffenpoofs were treated to an immersive exploration of Zhejiang University’s history and spirit through vivid narratives. They were thus introduced to the grand educational journey and the spirit of striving for excellence.

Though their time was fleeting, the visit by the Whiffenpoofs has sowed the seeds of camaraderie in everyone’s heart. With anticipation and enthusiasm, they look forward to further enriching the beautiful symphony of Sino-American youth exchanges with their future endeavors.