When Noah Strausser, a Clinton, Iowa native, got into Yale University’s exclusive senior acapella group, the Whiffenpoofs, he knew his mother would be impressed.

And not just because the group has appeared on NBC's competition show, “The Sing-Off” or, over its century-long run, because it has performed for presidents, the Dalai Lama and at Carnegie Hall.

More so, because, the Whiffenpoofs appear in his mother’s favorite TV show, “Gilmore Girls.”

“We had heard of them long before we ever thought about him going to school there,” his mom, Robin Strausser, said.

Before he moved to New Haven, Connecticut, Noah, an only child, would regularly watch the series, which centers around a mother and daughter, with his mom. In the show, daughter Rory Gilmore attends Yale University.

“Yale was the only school he wanted to go to,” Robin said. “We didn’t even put two and two together until he had applied.”

Shortly after stepping onto campus at his dream school, Noah, who interned for four summers with the Clinton Showboat Area Theatre, formed a new goal: joining the Whiffenpoofs.

“I had always wanted to try out for it,” Noah, who is studying architecture, said. “They were the premier group.”

“Like getting into Yale, this was the next dream,” his mom said. “He’s been talking about it for three years. This is something he has wanted for so long.”

Following three years in the underclassmen acapella group, The Spizzwinks, he snagged one of 14 spots on the Whiffenpoofs. The group is known for their tradition of performing every Monday at a local tavern and singing “The Whiffenpoof Song,” which has been recorded by Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby.

“I love that we essentially are able to do acapella anywhere,” he said. “We bring it to any situation.”

The Whiffenpoofs traditionally cycle through jazz standards, vintage Yale songs and contemporary tunes, such as Noah’s current favorite, “The Rainbow Connection,” from “The Muppet Show.”

The Whiffenpoofs keep a heavy touring schedule outside of New Haven. This school year, Noah and his singing mates plan on performing in each of their hometowns, which span from Hawaii to Brooklyn to Washington D.C.

First up is Noah’s. The Whiffenpoofs will perform Saturday at the Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton and Sunday at the Adler Theatre in downtown Davenport.

And his parents have invited “everyone we know” to the shows.

“I don’t know if the Whiffenpoofs have ever been to Clinton or Iowa before,” she said. “We’re just so excited.”

Noah, who went to Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, is looking forward to showing his college friends around Iowa.

“I’m excited to show them what it’s like to be from Iowa, a different part of the country from what they’re used to,” he said. “I get to show them where I grew up and have them meet my parents and grandparents. In return, I can show everybody back home what I’ve been doing. You don’t get that opportunity a lot.”

Robin and her husband, Gary, typically travel to Yale two times per year for concerts and have traveled around the country to see him perform.

“We’re his groupies,” Robin said. “Listening to him sing is my favorite thing.”

This weekend, they won't have to travel far at all.

“I’m always the person in front row crying,” she said. “Every parent should have the opportunity to see their child do what they love. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).