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(This article, reprinted with permission, featuring Brock Forsblom, class of 2003, appeared in the Eastside Messenger on January 19, 2004.)

Bexley grad helps answer musical question -“What’s a Spizzwink(?)”
By John Matuszak
Eastside Editor

What is a Spizzwink(?)What is a Spizzwink(?)

He’s a little hard to pin down, as the ever-present question mark after the name might indicate.

The Spizzwinks(?) are just as likely to warble melodiously as sway rhythmically, and then suddenly strike a ridiculous pose.

Eleven of these songsters/pranksters recently invaded Cassingham Elementary School in Bexley, with one of its latest members, 2003 Bexley High grad Brock Forsblom, in tow.

“Very odd, very opinionated,” is how Forsblom, son of Cassingham music teacher Deborah Forsblom, described the Yale Spizzwinks(?), the second-oldest a cappella singing group in the country.

The Spizzwinks(?), sporting gleaming tuxedos, brought their varied program to Cassingham students gathered for their weekly town meeting. The Cassingham FF0 sponsored the performance.

They rendered traditional folk songs such as “Shenandoah,” and then broke into You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Throw in big band-era standards and Motown hits, complete with choreography, along with comedy skits, and you have the eclectic repertoire the Spizzwinks(?) have perfected over 90 years.

Forsblom was one of only a handful of new members “tapped” for the Spizzwinks(?) after a rush week of try-outs for groups across campus.

He brought his experience in musical theatre and choir performance to Yale, having had the title role in Bexley High’s production of “The Scarlet Pimpernel" last year. He also performed in the musical "Once On This lsland", which traveled to a theatre festival in Scotland last summer. Forsblom also performed with the Capital University Chorale.

Forsblom is obviously enjoying his participation with the Spizzwinks(?) and said it was “very cool” to return to the stage where he had performed so many times as a member of such a prestigious group.

The members are in the midst of a seven-week tour that will take them to Ohio, Florida, and then on to Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

All of us this does not quite answer the question, “What is a Spizzwink(?)”

According to member Matt McCauley, the group formed In 1914 as a sort of satirical response” to Yale’s first a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs.

Looking for a name even sillier than that, the Yalies gathered at Mory’s Thmple Bar to lubricate their imaginations.

One member recalled a corn blight in Iowa that had been attributed to a mythical insect called a spizzwink. The name seemed to fit the slightly off-kilter tone they were looking for.

Later, an editor for the Yale newspaper, unsure of the spelling, added the question mark that became part of the name.

Made up of freshmen through juniors, the Spizzwinks(?) have graduated many members into the all-senior Whiffenpoofs. They have performed at the White House. and many other prestigious venues over the years.

The group is celebrating its 90th anniversary, and has released a new CD to commemorate the occasion, “Thank You, Conic Again.”

The CD is available from Deborah Forsblom or on the web site, www.spizzwinks.com. A humanities major at Yale Forsblom, (another way of saying he is undecided on a
major, he admitted) is performing in a stage production and is seeking out a choir to join.

Being a member of the Spizzwinks(?) gives Forsblom a chance to solo. But the real appeal of a cappella is hearing the voices coming together, he offered. “It’s all about blending, and being a part of a group,” Forsblom said.

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