Every year, the world’s most passionate whistlers gather in Louisburg, North Carolina, to compete in the annual World Whistling Championship. Whistlers, young and old, are judged on resonance, intonation and stage presence as they interpret some of the most famous concertos and sonatas.
In 1970, Allen De Hart, director of public affairs at Louisburg College, founded the Franklin County and Louisburg College Festival, which focused on traditional music and dance from the southern states. Three years later, Darrel Williams, a contestant from Durham, North Carolina, requested he whistle his original composition rather than sing it. The judges accepted it and they were so impressed with his performance that the annual event soon became the National Whistlers Convention. For the last 40 years, talented whistlers from all around the world have been coming to Louisburg to show off their skills and claim the coveted title of World Whistling Champion. It might sound like a wacky contest to a lot of people, but for the dozens of participants who take part in it every it’s serious business. They spend a lot of time practicing both their whistling and their stage performance, and take special care of their “instruments”, making sure they are in perfect condition on the big day. Kissing apparently makes the lips mushy so some of them adopt a “24-hour no kissing” policy to keep their lips crisp, while others sip ice water right before the performance. The ice constricts the lip tissue, making it nice an smooth and allowing the air to flow properly.