Arts

International Whistlers Guild Announces Georgian As Top 25 Finalist In Online Championship

Andy Offutt Irwin is a storyteller, musician, and professional whistler from Covington, GA.
Andy Offutt Irwin is a storyteller, musician, and professional whistler from Covington, GA.
Credit Andy Offutt Irwin

Throughout history, whistling has been used for communication, to signal someone, entertainment — or just as a form of  self-expression. Earlier this month, the International Whistlers Guild announced Georgian Andy Offutt Irwin as a top 25 finalist of the first-ever online Global Whistling Championship 2020.

“City Lights” producer Summer Evans spoke about the competition with Irwin and with one of the Guild’s founders, Gaiza Lasa.

Irwin has been whistling all his life.

“I was probably 10 or 11 before I realized that not everybody in the world can whistle whatever tune they wanted to,” he said.

He perfected his whistling scales at Georgia College and State in Milledgeville. His band teacher would break out the flute, and they would alternate brief solos between each other.

“He and I would ‘trade fours’ as they say in jazz. He would do four measures; then I would do four measures.”

Before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, Irwin had plans to go to Tokyo to compete in the annual Masters of Musical Whistling International Competition. The event was canceled, but the competition moved online thanks to the International Whistlers Guild.

“We were all devastated, and a few of us just decided ‘well everyone else is using Zoom and virtual everything, let’s do a virtual competition,” said Gaizka Lasa, one of the founders of the Guild.

He and five other whistling enthusiasts from around the globe created the Guild this year in order to virtually share the musical talents of whistlers around the globe. The competition brought over 130 entries and has been paired down to 25 finalists.

Irwin, who is a story-teller and musician, submitted George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2 in C sharp minor.

“It’s a beautiful haunting tune, and it’s without the bombast of the theatre orchestra. You know when George was working with his brother Ira. It’s a big range challenge because I have to go up both octaves to do it.,” said Irwin.

The winners of the competition will be announced on Sept. 3.

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