A MEMORIAL SERVICE WAS HELD ON SAT. MARCH 28TH, 2009 AT BATTELL CHAPEL, Yale University, at 3:00pm. All were cordially invited. Over 800 in attendance! DVD available through the Yale Glee Club office.

Service details: Tom Murray, University Organist, started the prelude 20 minutes before the 3 p.m. service began. There were performances by The Yale Glee Club, The Yale Alumni Chorus, The Whiffenpoofs of 2009, The SLOT's, and The University Glee Club of New Haven. A magnificent, and humbling, tribute.

Contributions in memory of Fenno may be sent to the
North Congregational Church P.O. Box 307 New Hartford CT 06057.

Condolences may be sent directly to the family (Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, Terry) at pogilvy@comcast.net

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F F Heath Jr. 12-30-1926 to 12-05-2008

About the blog:
Please feel free to share your memories with us about Fenno/Dad. Send your stories/memories to pogilvy@comcast.net and we will gladly post your letter, unless you indicate otherwise.

Thank you. Your letters bring us joy.


~Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, and Terry Heath

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fenno's Birthday Today 12/30/08


Hippo Birdie Two Ewe....


From Derek Ludwin- received on Fenno's Birthday today: 12/30/08

Dear Carol,

I was so sorry to hear the news about Fenno.

We were fortunate enough to join the Glee Club just in time to enjoy a year of song with Fenno. It was a whirlwind year, capped by the "Hail and Farewell" concert, and we all quickly came to understand how much Fenno meant to the YGC and the broader community. In the years that followed, I continued to have the pleasure of Fenno's company -- he introduced me to Welsh rarebit at Mory's -- and of singing his new compositions, including his wonderful Sanctus. Fenno has left a legacy of music that few can match: he inspired us to sing, and to love both the making of music and the music itself, and we will continue to remember him every time we sing.

Please know that you and entire Heath family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Very sincerely yours,

Derek Ludwin

Monday, December 22, 2008

Michael Dziuban JE '08 YGC President '07-'08

Dear Heath Family,

I want to express my sorrow at Fenno's passing and wish you my best in
this difficult time. I did not know Fenno personally, but as a recent
graduate of the Glee Club I know that his legacy of choral music as
both an artistic and a humanistic endeavor continues to shape the
group in beautiful ways. In the spirit of Glee, I hope that your days
will be filled with fond memories from Fenno's life as a husband,
father, conductor, mentor, and friend.

Michael Dziuban
JE '08
YGC President '07-'08

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Remembering Fenno

Has anyone ever had a more expressive sweep of the arm than Fenno, as he
brought us together in song?

When I was back for my ^25h reunion a few years ago, the highpoint was
singing for Fenno once again on the stage of Woolsey Hall. Fenno fully
embodied the ideal of *Yale Music *– the wonderful mix of tradition,
challenge, reflection, and exuberance that *Yale* represents at its
best, along with the joy and inspiration of *Music*.

Looking back, I appreciate more than ever Fenno's extraordinary ability
to turn the output of a bunch of largely untrained voices into music –
not just a series of notes, but music. As an undergraduate, I would
sometimes be concerned that we didn't have all the notes quite right, or
that our pianissimos weren't quite as soft as they could have been. But
I later sang in groups where the precision may have been greater, but
where we didn't make half the music that we made in Fenno's hands.

Along with so many others, I rejoice in the memory of Fenno's uplifted
arm, and of the warmth, friendship, and delight embodied in that
gesture. My life was made a bit brighter, and my Yale experience made
more meaningful, by Fenno Heath.

Alec Murphy, '77

Fenno's obituary in the New York Times

HEATH--Fenno Follansbee, Jr. 81, beloved husband and father, passed away peacefully December 5, 2008 at his home in Hamden, CT following a long illness. He was born in Hampton, VA on December 30, 1926 to the late Fenno F. and Dorothy Jones Heath. Professor Heath was the Director of the Yale Glee Club from 1953-1992, a longtime conductor of the Litchfield County Choral Union and of the University Glee Club of New Haven, CT. Widely respected as a composer, teacher and choral conductor, Professor Heath was a mentor to generations of young singers, and was active as a composer, guest lecturer and conductor long into his retirement years. Raised in Hampton, Virginia, he graduated from Newport News High School and attended Loomis School before entering Yale University. His college career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during WWII. He graduated from Yale with the Class of 1950 during which he conducted the Apollo Glee Club and sang with the Yale Glee Club, the Spizzwinks and the Whiffenpoofs. At the Yale School of Music he received his Mus.B. in 1951 and Mus.M. in 1952 as a student of Quincy Porter and Paul Hindemith. He remained at Yale to pursue a lifetime in music, eventually becoming the first Marshall Bartholomew Professor of Choral Conducting. Through the many tours he led nationally and worldwide he helped to bring international recognition to the Yale Glee Club. Yale's new Alumni Chorus (YAC) is a direct outgrowth of Mr. Heath's success in creating a life-long love of song in his former singers. Over the years, he has received numerous commissions for choral compositions and has received many awards including the Yale Medal, the Sanford Medal, The Yale Glee Club Medal, the University Glee Club of New York City Medal, the Mory's Cup, and the Vernon Prize for composition. Among his works are the score for the play "John Brown's Body", a Mass for Chorus with Brass, and collections of choral arrangements of traditional spirituals. Major works were written for four Presidents of Yale. Texts were chosen by each President and set to music by Fenno Heath. They were sung by the Yale Glee Club at the inaugurations of Presidents Kingman Brewster, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Benno Schmidt and Richard Levin. He is survived by his wife, Carol Quimby Heath of Hamden, CT, his children and extended family: Sarah Heath and Franz Douskey of Hamden, CT, Lucy (Heath) and Robert McLellan of Lebanon, NH, Marguerite Heath Ogilvy and Daniel Hertzler of Windsor, VT, and Fenno F. and Paris (Stamos) Heath III of Woodbridge, CT, and six grandchildren: Heather, Sedgwick and Benjamin Ogilvy, Max Heath, and Quinby and Eliza McLellan. Beecher & Bennett, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden, will handle Memorial Services to be announced at a later date. Contributions in memory of Fenno may be sent to the North Congregational Church, P.O. Box 307, New Hartford, CT 06057. To send a condolence see obits at beecherandbennett.com 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Jim Symington

Dearest Carol,
T'was Yethpl made our world go round!
Sing Hallelulia!
With love, tears, and endless gratitude,
Jim and Sylvia Symington


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Memorium

He was singularly magnificent, a patrician musical influence, and a Yalie to the core. He will be missed.

Mark Powell
American Radio Chamber Choir


Terry, I am sending a copy of this by hard mail to your mom’s address. Thanks for setting up this website. I have attached a couple of your dad’s pictures from when he was with us, though you may still have them around the house.


Dear Carol,


When I read of Fenno’s death, I pulled the 1949 Pasquaney Annual from the shelf. I did not have to look up on any database what his years were. It was his second summer as a counsellor, still four years before I was born. Yet I have felt his presence powerfully because it has endured at Pasquaney in the over half century since Fenno was here. The cheerful picture of him with his fellow counsellors, so many of them singers, made me realize how they must have enjoyed being together. I know they formed a quartet in at least one of those years. Fenno directed Yale musicians to Pasquaney long after he left. He was succeeded by Fred Pittman. Fred told me a few years ago that Fenno and Marshall Bartholomew (Mr. Barty) sat him down in the Yale Glee Club office in 1951 and told Fred what he was about to do with his summer: serve on the Pasquaney council. Fred has recently endowed a scholarship for campers from the Deep South, so Fenno is quite directly responsible for that legacy. As recently as the 1980s Fenno was recommending protégés to direct music at Pasquaney. One of them, Jono Babbitt, was a dorm counsellor with me.  I also knew Fenno’s name from my own singing. I don’t think I sang in any glee club in high school, college, or beyond without singing something by both Mr. Barty and by Fenno. It is no wonder that Yale was favorite college at camp for many years, with Marshall Bartholomew, Fenno Heath, and Duke Henning as a core. We are all grateful that Fenno’s impress on Pasquaney will remain part of us forever.


                                                                        With warm wishes,



                                                                        Vin Broderick,



From Caroline Murphy '83 - Tasteful Modulations

Dear Members of the Heath family,

I have been so moved by the many postings to Fenno's blog, and wanted to include a little tribute of my own. I will both attach it and paste it into this message. My heart goes out to each and all of you!

Caroline Murphy

Tasteful Modulations

During these past couple of weeks, as the news about Fenno has unfolded, I have taken part in four different choral performances. Each event has felt like my own personal tribute to Fenno; along with many others who have contributed to this blog, I imagine that nothing would please Fenno more than to know how many of us have continued to raise our voices in song.

In the nearly 30 years since I joined the Yale Glee Club, choral singing has been one of the few constants in my life, keeping me afloat through a variety of life changes and feeding my soul. It is hard to imagine any of it without Fenno’s influence.

I had done very little singing before college, so my two years in the Glee Club opened up a whole new world to me. What a revelation it was to sing Bach’s B Minor Mass in the spring of my senior year! Last Friday, as Fenno was breathing his last, I was in the middle of a dress rehearsal with the Yale Camerata for another of Bach’s great works, the Christmas Oratorio. I found myself instinctively marking a few last fugal entrances with brackets and recalling that it was Fenno who had first taught me to do that when we sang the B Minor Mass. What I remember especially is the larger purpose those brackets served. It was not enough just to learn your own line and sing it competently. Fenno always encouraged us to get inside the music, to see how the different parts fit together, to breathe life into the whole and give it our all in the way that he did.

Fenno ended up having a further, quite unexpected but profound influence on my life. Shortly after I had moved back to New Haven in the fall of 1987, we ran into each other in the street, and he invited me to sing in the Battell Chapel Choir. Before I knew it, I found myself back in the Glee Club Room, rehearsing during lunchtime on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Out of those years in the Battell Choir – which gave me my first substantive church experience – came, eventually, a call to ordained ministry.

It has also been a joy to get to know the Heath family: Terry during my Glee Club years and, in later years, Carol and the Heath sisters. Some of my fondest memories from the late ‘80s and ‘90s are of singing with Sarah (and Lucy, while she was still in New Haven) in a very informal women’s singing group called the “Sweet Alkalines.” Fenno was as enthusiastic about our ragtag little ensemble as he was about any other musical endeavor, even writing a few arrangements for us.

My favorite “Fenno-ism” was one he used in reference to his own compositions. Often, toward the end of a piece, he threw in a shift to a higher key. With a twinkle in his eye, Fenno always referred to these shifts as “tasteful modulations.” The twinkle let us in on an open secret: these signature modulations of his were really a strategy to ramp up the energy and dramatic impact of the music. In the hands of a lesser musician, they might have seemed like a mere ploy, but with Fenno they worked. Always. And they were indeed tasteful.

Perhaps one way to look at the events of these past couple of weeks is as the modulation of a song – the tasteful modulation of Fenno’s life song – into a different key. The song continues in a slightly higher key, shimmering just a little more brightly. I picture him telling us all about it even now, with a twinkle in his eye.

Caroline Murphy '83

Sunday, December 14, 2008

His presence will be missed, and his memory lives in our hearts.

To all those who were with Fenno in these latter years, thank you. It comforts us to know that he was cared for the way he cared for all of us for so many years.

His presence will be missed, and his memory lives in our hearts.

Tim Geisler
YGC '92

Rest well, Fenno!

I was not a Glee Club member, but the first male choir I ever heard in my life (I am from Panama) was the Yale Glee Club under the direction of Fenno Heath the first year I arrived in New Haven as a student. The glorious sound still echoes in my mind. Rest well, Fenno! The sound of your music will live on forever!

Newton G. Osborne

"A Winter Prayer"

At the time Fenno set the poem, "A Winter Prayer," he and I were singing
together in the choir of the United Church-on-the-Green in New Haven. Fenno
dedicated the piece to the choir of United Church, and I believe we gave the
piece its world's premier in the winter of 1957. Carla and I were married
in United Church by Dr. Winston in 1958, and we continued to sing there
until we relocated to Simsbury, CT, in 1960. Thus, "A Winter Prayer" is
special to us. Its author, composer and location have all played
significant roles in our lives.

Dick Wilde 56E

Fenno's Obituary is in the New York Times Today, Sun. Dec. 14

Thank you, Fenno

I can hardly remember the names of any of my Yale professors. But I  have very strong memories of Fenno, vivid ones, as if they were yesterday. Fenno provided a haven of civility and beauty, which all of us return to when we think of him, or remember the music we made together. We are all forever fortunate to have  spent so much wonderful time together.   – Dave Berck, ‘86

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keep in the Middle of the Road - From Bob Eggers, Whiff '73

Last Sunday afternoon, my a cappella group offered a song/prayer at our afternoon concert to accompany Fenno on his journey to the next world. The Tibetans have a teaching about passage and I think in our Western tradition we find a similar thinking. We offered our song before an audience of some 60 folks and I told them of Fenno's passing. Several people reacted profoundly in recognition.

My guys have not known the pleasure of singing under Fenno's direction, but they sang as never before. We were all joined as one.

Bob Eggers
Whiffenppofs of 1973, Pitchpipe of Blue of a Kind, fan and student.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From George Gelinas, D.M.D.

Dear Carol,
We just received word of Fenno's passing. As a friend and his dentist, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to you and yours. He was one of my favorite people and undoubtedly one of Yale's greatest contributions to mankind.
My best wishes go out to you and the children with hopes that future days will be healing and happy!
George Gelinas, D.M.D.

From Alaska

To the Heath Family --

As a graduate student in choral conducting at the School of Music, my
life at Yale was filled with what seemed like an endless array of
rehearsals and performances. However, with one notable exception,
none were with the Glee Club. (As a conducting major, I was required
to sing with the Yale Camerata, a group whose rehearsals conflicted
with YGC on Tuesdays. My church choir job was on Wednesdays.)

Fortunately, I did take a few classes from Fenno and later was given
the opportunity to conduct the Freshman Chorus (every Monday and
Thursday!). There was a small room set aside as the YFC office in 201
Hendrie so with that as my professional home for two years, I was
really never far away from his influence or the attentive eyes of
Glee Club conductors–including Fenno's–who gazed down from the walls.
The presence of those portraits was a reminder to me of the small,
but important role that my singers and I played in the long tradition
of the Yale choral art.

It was a remarkable learning experience. And I shall always be
grateful to him for giving me the position -- my first conducting job
– and then letting me make it my own. Occasionally he would ask,
"How's it going?" but really never interfered. He offered advice when
asked and, like the portraits, was always watching. A smile and a
gentle nod after a concert was all I needed to know that the Frosh
and I were on the right path.

My last year at Yale was his last year. For his final concert, Fenno
and the Glee Club graciously opened their close-knit ranks to allow
outsiders from the Yale community to participate in a performance of
the Brahms Requiem–my one moment as a Glee Clubber. What a special
memory that is for me.

Next month my own group here in Anchorage will begin work on the
Brahms and, as we rehearse, I will remind my singers of where I came
from, of the man who helped shape me and how honored I was to be in
that sphere.

Grant Cochran
MM '90, MMA '92, DMA '97
conductor, Anchorage Concert Chorus
Anchorage, Alaska

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

John T Hanold 1964

The finest legacy of Fenno is his pursuit of excellence, which has been ingrained in generations of Yale singers and, through performance of his arrangements and compositions, in generations past and to come of choral singers everywhere. On occasion he was demanding, arrogant, uncompromising, disgusted and impatient, but the chorus generally improved as a result – and when we walked on stage in white tie and tails we knew we were prepared by the best and could move the souls of our audiences. From the opening dissonances of his setting of Donne’s “Wilt Thou Forgive” to the closing chords of his “General William Booth Enters Into Heaven” there was no doubt these were distinctive Heath creations, with his “tasteful modulations.” Another Fenno trait that comes to mind: though, as a bass, I long felt he favored tenors like himself, but over time it was clear he wrote good things for us – and you never wanted to sharp or flat a Heath piece, because he used every note every singer could provide.

For spine-tingling moments I recall, during the YGC’s 1963 European Tour, singing Bruckner’s “Christus Factus Est” on the stairs to the crypt of Bruckner’s own church in Austria. I have sung it many times since, but have never forgotten what 70 singers in sync with each other can do in the right space! Fenno prepared us, conducted us, and inspired us.

He contributed, as did Marshall Bartholomew and others before him, to a Yale tradition possibly unique in collegiate choral music: a core repertoire of Yale songs that have stayed in repertoire across generations. As freshmen, we were expected to learn a body of songs and to be able to sing them anytime, anywhere – which we often did, with enthusiasm, and still do in bars and train stations and public spaces all over the world. At Yale Singing Dinners graduates from the 1930’s through the current year can share a common heritage – many of us without referring to printed music because the legacy is intact and ingrained. This made the Yale Glee Club Associates a realistic link across the years and ensured the Yale Alumni Chorus would be a success from the start. Wherever Yale choral singing is heard, Fenno Heath is in the air and our hearts.

John T Hanold 1964

62 Prospect St

Turners Falls MA 01376-1305
Dear Fenno and family,

I was one of the fortunate sixty to accompany Fenno on the YGC's first
World Tour in 1965. How was I to know that that trip would set off a
life-long wanderlust, including living overseas for a dozen years? And
during that time, I was able to host three YGC singers when they
visited Hong Kong during the second World Tour.

Easily the artistic highlight of my life was the evening in Calcutta
when we sang Thomas Vittoria's Ave Maria--all of us first tenors
stretching for the high A# in the intonation, triple piano, before
settling back into the comfort of the basses and baritones behind us:
Gratia Plena indeed. And then the amazing moment happened. As we
reached the Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Fenno, who (in my memory, at
least) always conducted so precisely, who always surrounded himself
with our voices by standing close within our semi-circle, who always
had his head slightly cocked, listening, listening, who spread his
arms no wider than his shoulders when he wanted a good strong forte----
I write through tears now----suddenly took three long strides back,
his arms outstretched to their full extent and his hands shaking with
the impatience and encouragement of the deepest moment, his head
raised, and his face beaming. And out poured, rolled, soared the
Sancta Maria, mater dei. I think we were shocked, released, overcome.
I dared not look to see how many of us had been plunged into tears,
but I felt Ralph's hands clutching at my back for support. We sang, it
seemed, without having to breathe, and the sound was so pure and
effortless it seemed we had become the prayer itself.
At the end, when the seven-fold amen decayed into silence, Fenno bowed
on our behalf, and not one person in the Indian audience of some
thousands intruded on the prayer by applauding. We faced each other,
we and the audience, for minutes, it seemed, before we acquiesced and
continued with the concert.

That morning, on a guided tour, we passed a corpse in the street. I
was so distressed that, by the time we reached Bombay several days
later, I kept poor Dr. Joe up all night caring for me.

But the evening of that morning--the concert. On one day, then, I
learned some sense of the depth and height I might be capable of. The
day became the model for my artistic life, the last test, and the
deepest memory.
Thanks for that, Fenno. Thanks for that.

Peter Stambler, '66

Ed Wolff and Fenno

About Fenno

One afternoon in New Haven sixty-one years ago (in the fall of 1947), I dropped in for a haircut at the barber shop next to George and Harry’s on Wall Street. In the chair, already being served, was Fenno Heath. We knew each other, slightly.

The result of that chance meeting was an agreement to merge our vocal groups--Fenno’s being the well-established quartet, the Yale Blues, and mine being the remnants of the Elm Street Eight--into a revived and upgraded Elm Street Eight. This was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship with a fellow who has been my mentor and musical soul-brother ever since.

Though I had the beginnings of a personal vocal arranging style, the next year was an education for me, as I learned many tricks of the trade from the songs Fenno wrote or arranged, including “Boogie Man” and “Over the Rainbow.”

Thanks again to Fenno, we made an alliance with Carol’s group at Smith College, the “Smithereens.” Over the months, we wore deep tracks in Highway 10 between New Haven and Northampton, and sang several joint arrangements, calling ourselves the “Sweet Sixteen.” I especially remember Fenno’s arrangement of “Heat Wave” and how much fun it was to sing.

As we all know, anyone who influences an activity that is above-all in enjoyment is, at the same time, changing all your life for the better. An “above-all” for me is music; Fenno helped me achieve that.

And I was rewarded in another important way: I was asked to be an usher in Fenno’s and Carol’s wedding!

Since those times, I have spent the intervening decades arranging and composing, with various efforts sung by many groups, from the Whiffs to the Kingsingers, the Belgian Radio Choir, and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, and the Colorado group Wally Collins and I organized, the New Wizard Oil Combination. And there were the medleys of Gershwin and Cole Porter for the Yale Glee Club--the latter, of course, at Fenno’s gracious invitation. I treasure the recordings of those medleys, done under Fenno’s direction.

And all of the above goes back to that chance encounter in the barber shop!

I am sure that there will be remembrances from the members of SLOT. I have never been a full-time member of SLOT, but I am aware of the leadership and training Fenno gave the SLOT guys, and how much that has meant to SLOT in terms of vocal quality and enjoyment, and in their efforts to record all the many Whiffenpoof songs that had not yet been put on record. Whenever you hear SLOT, you will be the beneficiary of Fenno’s leadership.

Shamefully, I have gotten near the end of this essay without having already saluted Fenno for his 37-year leadership of the Yale Glee Club and for his many compositions. (I recall especially his setting of William Blake poems.)

To say that with Fenno’s passing, there is an end of an era--that is an egregious understatement. Fondly remembered and sorely missed. That’s Fenno.

Ed Wolff, Boulder, Colorado, December 8, 2008

Our deepest sympathy

Dear Carol and family,

We were so sorry to hear of Fenno’s death. Please know that his memory lives on in so very many people and that his passion for music continues to inspire generations of singers, conductors, instrumentalists, and on and on.

We will be thinking of you all during this season and wishing you peace.


Vince Edwards and Rodney Ayers

MM ’93 and MM/MAR ‘93


Vince Edwards

Director of Music

St. Paul's on the Green

60 East Avenue

Norwalk, CT 06851

Tel: (203) 847-2806

Fax: (203) 847-5818





Fenno Heath Blog

Moshe Gai, Professor of Physics

A few years back while I was watching a program on Public Television
about the Nazi's favorite marching tunes, to my great surprise I
recognized the Yale song "Bright College Years". I immediately called
Fenno at Cornish, NH, alas I did not realize it was almost midnight.
Fenno answered the phone and politely he said: Moshe it must be
something urgent for you to call so late. Embarrassed as I was, I
asked Fenno about the Nazi's favorite melody. Fenno patiently
explained to me that Yale came first. In 1835 a certain German
musician came to Yale and he imported with him some of the favorite
German tunes. Words were added and thus became "Bright College
Years". Fenno told me the difficulty they had during a concert tour
in Europe (in the 50's or 60's?) when the Yale Glee Club got booed
singing "Bright College Years". We had to stop singing our song at
the end of the concert, said Fenno, lest we will be harmed by the

This wonderful Fenno story is etched in my mind and it reminds me the
wonderful and loving gentleman and a scholar that Fenno was. As Lucy
had witnessed, as a student of musics I was a total failure. But the
Heath family still accepted me and I consider myself lucky to have
shared life with such a wonderful giant, his loving wife Carol and
his family.

Moshe Gai
Professor of Physics

A Fenno Heath Ending

10th December 2008


 Dear Carol and family,

Music has always played an essential part in my life, since I sneaked into my parish's children's choir a year early, throughout junior and senior high school, and, most importantly, at Yale, where, after a concert by the Whiffs during my first weekend on campus in the fall of '68, I knew "what I wanted to be when I grew up" (the group of '71 must have spent days finding my nickname)!

Then I heard Fenno directing a YGC concert! The power, precision, and nuances that Fenno drew from the (still all-male) group through a wide range of styles and eras was the proof for me that music was the most profound way for me to feel and express emotion. Fenno's passion was contagious! His elegance, humor, glowering glance when we didn't give him the attention or effort he demanded for Music—dissolving into a pleased smile or, when we were really "in harmony" with him and the piece being performed, a face uplifted, eyes shut, in a moment of ecstasy (and, yes, sometimes with tears)—is something none of us will forget.

As "bursary boy" in the Glee Club office for 3 years, I often heard Fenno in his office spending uncounted hours working on compositions and arrangements. As part of the Alley Cat mafia (Fred Weber, Charlie Gates, Mark Fulford) putting together the 1970 SATB YGC European Tour—boy, did Fenno have his arranging work cut out for him!—I spent more time than usual in the office and witnessed his commitment to making the transition to a mixed chorus a success. Having such a limited number of women to choose from for the needed voices, it was an especially difficult task. But, the tour produced some miracles (for me, it was Vespers in Westminster Abbey with the Randall Thompson(?) Alleluja coming to a climax just as the sun finally broke through the rose window of the Abbey). Who of us can forget the Beethoven Ninth with Stokowski at Carnegie Hall (weeks of rehearsal with Fenno, then a rehearsal with Stokowski in Hendri Hall where I reached absolute nirvana for nearly five timeless minutes—and understood why a real musician like Fenno could devote his entire life to such a passion)?

After graduation I became very ill with Crohn's disease, but, 10 years later, during my doctoral studies at UNC/Chapel Hill, I discovered a men's singing group, the Pitchforks, next door at Duke U., founded by Yalies, former Morse Dean Ben Ward and Dr. Frank Block, and found that I was still a 1st Tenor (who knew all the repertoire, since it all came from the Yale groups—I did put my foot down, 'tho, when someone suggested singing the Whiffenpoof song!).

            Nearly 10 years later I found here in Paris a men's chorus (directed my first year by David Hogan, a gifted composer and tenor soloist at the American Episcopal Cathedral—we lost him in the crash of TWA 800 at the end of our first U.S. tour in '96). That fantastic all-male sound, combined with David's, and now John Dawkins' uncompromising search for excellence, knowing that his singers can deliver, reminds me so much of Fenno's passion. I brought out my well-used Yale Songbook for both David and John to peruse. If David chose his own arrangement of Biebl's Ave Maria, John's interpretation of Shenandoah (with much coaching from me, requested or not, to achieve Fenno-style endless, "make them strain to listen" fade-outs—or, in gloriously bombastic music, the "blast their socks off longer than anyone thinks possible" YGC ending) brought me back to that uncompromising search for excellence—and it's rewards—that Fenno instilled in me—the gift of a lifetime!

            Fenno touched so many people's lives and gave so many the most precious gift, the means to express one's passion. He will be sorely missed but will remain with us forever.


            With my deepest condolences,

            Gantcho Anthony Gavriloff TC '72; Past Secy. Gen., Yale Club of France 1987-2001

            Freshman Glee Club, Yale Alley Cats, Yale Glee Club, Whiffs ("Havetrunwill") '72


P.S.: I egged on YGC Co-Presidents Bob Bonds and Ellen Marshall (among others) to do something to freshen up the paint in the Glee Club room. I certainly did not expect the colors chosen by Bob, I believe, but we worked 'til 2:00 a.m. two nights in a row to finish what we could. Years later, after the room had been completely repainted, I admit to being relieved that the "Super Fenno" purple door had been left intact—perhaps Bob Bonds has a photo.


The Top 12 Pieces Fenno Felt Everyone Should Know

Fenno's Top Twelve Pieces that he felt everyone should know:

1. Adagio for Strings (Barber)
2. Air for the G String (Bach)
3. Dona Nobis Pacem (Bach)
4. Nimrod Variation (Elgar)
5. Mathis der Maler 1st Movement (Hindemith)
6. O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen)
7. Nanie (Brahms)
8. Short Ride on a Fast Machine (Adams)
9. Symphony #1 3rd movement (Schostakowitsch)
10. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (M. Ellington)
11. The Folks Who Live On The Hill
12. L'il Darlin' (Hefti)

He revered Paul Hindemith and Bach. John Rutter. From Bach to John Adams...Rob McConnell, Diana Krall, The King's Singers, and Mel Torme.

From Evan Smith

I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still - I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not think of me as gone -
I am with you still - in each new dawn.

May your Heart always carry a joyful song.
Remember that you are Blessed -
each day by the Love that lives all around you.

(Native American)

Evan Smith

Notes from My Music Students- Grade 5

Dear Mrs. Ogilvy,

"I'm sorry about the mishap. I bet you right now your Dad is dancing in Heaven."

"I'm sorry for your sadness, but it will get better along the "Road that is Calling". (reference to our favorite Heath family round, The Road is Calling)

"I know your heart is broken into half notes, so I hope your heart will go back to a whole note soon."

~Peggy Heath Ogilvy

Stephen Campbell, '67

Though sadly I did not sing at Yale, I have vivid memories of Fenno's conducting. I think the first time I saw him in action - the first time I heard the Glee Club - was during the Christmas holidays of our freshman year. The Glee Club was touring and did a concert in  
Baltimore. I went with my family. It was only the second time they had experienced Yale - the first being when they delivered me to Phelps Gate in September. Needless to say, the concert was breathtaking. None of us had ever heard choral singing like that. I was so proud of being  
a Yale Man. Years later, when I finally did start singing, I think it was partly because of the memory of watching Fenno and hearing the Yale Glee Club.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fenno's love of singing was infectious, and it is one infection that I decline to cure.

I’m marveling at the many people Fenno helped blossom and introduced to music. I've sung constantly before and after Yale, in both amateur and professional choirs. For years I would listen to one particular piece of music, the Ave Maria by Josquin and I somehow it would always effect me deeply. It seemed almost as though I knew it….It turns out I did. Fenno taught us when I was a sophomore…There it was on the Yale Glee Club recording of 1978. Fenno's love of singing was infectious, and it is one infection that I decline to cure.

Paul Erling tenor '81

From Peggy's Colleague at Woodstock Elementary School

Hi Peggy,

I just want to let you know I have goose bumps from your father's blog. What a wonderful legacy. We all miss you, but know you're in the right place. Don't rush things, take all the time you need. You have a lot to process and and can't do it over. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Martha G.

Peter Thomas '90

Dear Fenno,

Thank you for all the beautiful music. I sang off and on with YGC during college, 1986-90 along with such wonderful singers as Tom Porter, Mitchell Hammond, Eric Banks, Laura Stanfield, Dawn Ellis and many more. I carried the love of singing instilled in YGC along with me to many stages of life since then.

Now my three year old daughter Mariana is growing up singing, inventing melodies and verses to narrate all the activities going on with and around her.
My wife Diana is expecting another baby soon, whom Mariana has already named "Fred". Recently they were in church together; when the anthem ended Mariana turned towards Diana's midriff and called out "Hey Fred, that was Music!" She wants to make sure her sibling won't miss out on the most important things in life. Thanks for making sure those of us who passed under your baton didn't miss out either.

With lasting admiration,

Peter Thomas
Yale '90
Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Biology & Cognitive Science
Case Western Reserve University // Department of Mathematics

Paul Promadhat YGC '90

Over the years I've had the opportunity to sing with some of the world's great conductors, orchestras, and soloists. I've experienced many moments of sublime musical beauty. This year I'm singing 7 concerts with the NY Philharmonic. Without Fenno and the YGC none of this would have happened. Thank-you Fenno, I'll miss you. I'll be digging through my old photos and newer digital pics and sending what I find.

Paul Promadhat YGC '90

Murray Wheeler '62

Hey, Carol - I am truly sorry for your loss, really a loss to all singers who so enjoy and are challenged by Fenno's immense contribution to choral singing. His awesome legacy will live on forever to those who are up to interpreting it. Sincerely, Murray Wheeler '62

Bonnie /Jackson /Kestner, TD '74

To the Family of Fenno Heath,

I am sorry to hear of Fenno's passing. He contributed much to the lives of many students, and I cherish fond memories of my short time singing with the Yale Glee Club in the fall of 1970. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


Bonnie /Jackson /Kestner, TD '74

4 pictures from the 1965 World Tour

These four pictures show:

The spontaneous audience that materialized when we sang from the steps of the museum inside the Kremlin. I think Fenno decided to make these impromptu concerts when it became clear our formal concerts were for invited audiences only.

Fenno beaming at the Taj Mahal.

The band that greeted us at a grassy airport in the Philippines.

Fenno conducting from atop his chair between courses at the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant in Aberdeen, Hong Kong.


Peter Stambler '66

Heaven almost seems enviable now with Bartholomew, Henning & Heath strutting the boards.

Dear Fenno -
I was very saddened (and shocked) to hear of your death on Saturday last. I've been out of the loop lately, and had no idea of the tenor of your condition. I had so hoped to see you, emotionally refreshed and ready to lead the S.L.O.T.S. for another glorious rehearsal in the Woolsey Hall rotunda, next spring. I think we're all going to be a little off-key for awhile.
I've known you all my life (and have uncounted memories of you, mostly in song), but I wanted to remind you of something that came to mind when I first heard of your condition last Wednesday (from my sister, Morgan). The evening of the day Dad died (1/15/90), you came over to 223 Bradley St. (w/ Lou Hemingway) and sat down with Mom to immediately start composing the music program for his memorial service. It was such a comfort and joy to have you so immediately involved in what was Dad's greatest joy in life, singing, and you so help to keep things from missing the beat. Dad loved you, as do we all. Heaven almost seems enviable now with Bartholomew, Henning & Heath strutting the boards.
My love to you, Carol & family.

Cameron Henning

From Bill Rhangos '53

So sorry to hear of Fenno`s demise. I was class of `53 and Popo of the Whiffs that year. I remember trying to learn the bass part to September Song that he arranged for our group. That's the highest note that this 2nd bass ever had to sing. He was a great guy and a truly gifted musician.

Love to the family,

Bill Rhangos '53

Fenno was one of the greatest influences on my life

Fenno was one of the greatest influences on my life. We were not close personally, but I learned so much from him. I began singing in the Apollo Glee Club and then graduated to the Yale Glee Club in my sophomore year, as I recall. I sang baritone and served under Fenno as rehearsal accompanist. He would come into rehearsal, put an open score on the piano and tell me to play the parts, not the vocal reduction. Thanks to his patience and steadiness, I learned how to do it. And what an exacting director he was! He insisted that we memorize virtually everything, so that, in concert, we would watch him and respond fully to every nuance he sought to draw forth. He insisted on clear and precise diction: I well remember a woman classics major from Radcliffe who said of a concert we did in Boston's Symphony Hall, "I understood every word, especially the Latin." Fenno's spirit was an inspiration to Yale men and women for generations, a true blessing.

M. Andrew Johnston, Yale College 1968

Bright College Years

To Carol and Family,

My condolences and thoughts are with you.  Here's a note I posted to the blog last week, I think during the time when there were some technical difficulties, so it never made it on.  Maybe it will work now.


I guess I always elongated the "o" in your name, being a gal from Roanoke, VA ("Row-Noke"), but at least that gave you a chance to wax poetic about your roots in Newport News.  It was an honor and a privilege to sing with you, one I surely didn't deserve on account of my voice, but hopefully I made up for any deficiencies there with attention and good cheer.  I'll never forget the wonderful times we had together and the people we students became under your tutelage -- first freezing together in the Midwest Winter Tour, then basking in sunny southern France and Italy during the summer European Tour.  To this day I don't know how a bunch of college kids could presume to give an impromptu concert in St. Peter's, but it seemed to make perfect sense at the time.

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to you, Fenno.  Not only for the musical gifts you so freely offered us, but for the incredible community you helped to build –- we can see it now unfolding on these pages.   The YGC experience transcends the years, but there two constants: Yale and Fenno. 

Bright college years, indeed.  Godspeed, my friend.

Anne Hamner Rosales '84

From Peter Bonoff '67

The Fenno Heath Master Class and Fenno's rekindling of the love of his music at Yale in the Woolsey Hall Jamboree on reunion Saturdays that Jeff Brenzel organized and emceed was for so many of us an unforgettable high point of reunions for about 15 years.
Now, fortunately, Mark Dollhopf carries on this extraordinary, proud tradition with his dynamic energy, musical talents, style and grace.
Jeff Brenzel continues to blend tradition and innovation with his characteristic combination of diligence and inspiration as Dean of Admissions---and Yale music (as well as Yale School of Music) are leading beneficiaries of his mission.
Thanks, Jeff and Mark for all you do for Yale.

Fenno, you've done it again! We owe you more gratitude than mere words can express in this space for your labors of love. They have inspired labors of love for music and for Yale in countless admirers around the world. Godspeed and God bless!
Peter Bonoff


Hello to the Heath Family,


Please accept my condolences. Fenno’s passing is indeed a sad moment but his legacy is one of joy. I sang under his direction for three years in the YGC at Yale, ‘followed in his musical footsteps’ in both the Spizzwinks(?) and the Whiffs. Fenno’s commitment to choral music, his extraordinary musicianship, his ‘magical hands’, his striving for perfection (and his wry smile and tolerance when we goofed),  are memories that I will treasure. More importantly, his music will be  performed for generations to come.


Yours truly,


Stewart Cole, Yale 1960





From Pete Arnold '58

At a recent gathering of singing groups I was taunted into singing "Eddie my Love" at Battell Chapel. The presentation received a standing ovation from the less learned audience. Walking down the aisle after the program was finished I saw Fenno and Carol toward the back of the hall...Fenno arose as I approached, reached out his hand to shake mine and quoth..."My, my, you certainly have great control of your falsetto". I have wondered, ever since, what he thought of my singing voice, but I packed the memory away as a compliment that I MAY have deserved, having retained my "falsetto" into my 70th year. I enjoyed every minute with Fenno, a genius, who took a bunch of rookie singers and created magic moments of music...

pete arnold, Y '58

Rusty (Popo) Post

It was the spring of 1957 and 13 of us had just been selected as the Whiffenpoofs of 1958. 11 of us were members of the Yale Glee Club but that didn't include Fritz Kinzel, (our Pitchpipe) or me (the Popo). How wonderfully ironic. Fritz and I were strongly in support of the Yale Glee Club and didn't want to be the reason why 11 seniors withdraw just because the two of us weren't members of it. The problem was that Fenno rightfully had some modest requirements for joining the glee club: you had to be able to sing. So even though we were now the leaders of the world-famous Whiffenpoofs, we had to try out for the world-famous Glee Club.

Fenno loved it. I mean, we were friends, but he had the power and savored every moment of it. He gave us the try-out and then with a twinkle in his eyes, he ruled. "Okay you guys. You can sing...barely. You're in."

As much as we loved being Whiffenpoofs, we loved being part of Fenno Heath's Glee Club, one of the finest men's choral group as there was in the world. How lucky can we be?

And now, we no longer have Fenno but we do have memories. The Whiffenpoofs of 1958 were a superb group but no more so than the Yale Glee Club of 1958 both in song and in friendship and for an entire year, we traveled together across this country and in Eastern Europe. In the case of the 1958 Whiffs, we were all the luckier because we've kept making memories. We 13 are all over 70 years old, all still alive, all still standing, and all still singing. Earlier this year, we enjoyed our 50th reunion at Yale and hoped that Fenno would be able to come join us but it wasn't meant to be.

I can now tell a Fenno secret: one day he told me that the Whiffs of 1958 were Fenno's favorite Whiffenpoof group.

Rusty (Popo) Post

Monday, December 8, 2008

From Ellen Rothberg

Dear Carol and the Heath clan,

First my sincere condolences as you make this sad passage- Be comforted by the generous outpouring of support -And while words can not make up for your loss, hopefully you will feel the love coming across these pages and draw comfort from all who knew and loved Fenno.
I first met Fenno when I came to Hendrie to audition as a new graduate student.Having just spent several years working and singing in some terribly stuffy chorus in Boston and thinking I was a serious singer I wasn't sure about having to learn the "Football medley" But the prospect of a trip to Europe the following summer convinced me otherwise. Little did I know how lucky I was to be offered the chance to work with Fenno, experience the pure delight and enthusiasm of his music making, his genius of composition and best of all the camaraderie, spirit and history of the YGC. Whether it was singing Boola Boola, Shenandoah or Randal Thompson we all shared in Fenno's great commitment to making us reach beyond ourselves and experience the music.

While I moved on from New Haven memories of the Glee Club , the trips, and the friends I made remain with me to this day. They truly defined my experience at Yale .

All our lives were blessed for knowing him and his spirit will shine forever in our hearts

Ellen Rothberg, EPH '78
West Hartford, CT

From the Henning Sibs

Wonderful Heaths All,
I am so sad about your Fenno, but keep reminding myself that it best for him. I loved so many of his nostalgic stories, as the years flew by. He talked about my brother Bill (Cam wasn't born yet) and I sitting on the stairs, listening to all the great music coming from the living room. Needless to say, it was way past our bedtime but how could we possibly stay in bed with all the glorious sounds downstairs? (And nobody told us to go back to bed!).
More recently, what a gift to have been a part of the March Singing Weekend, organized by Linus, and run by Fenno. He often talked about the importance of rehearsals, emphasizing that they were where the true joy of learning took place and thus true singing occurred. I had to skip a couple performances in order to attend to Mum..... I love rehearsing and don't like performing, so....Then I got a great dose of chastisement from Fenno, he loving every minute of it....."But Fenno!!!...You JUST SAID ......!!!!!"
After being a part of that group...what a privilege!!!....it makes me smile whenever I hear or read a reference to Robert Shaw.....So often, F. uttered "Robert Shaw says....." that we loved trying to keep count of how often he made that reference.
So as I ramble on, I thank you for being "you" (What a family!) and all the joy that brought (and will continue to bring to us, in memories and in song) to all Hennings, for many decades past and to come.
So much love from the Henning sibs,
Morgan, Bill and Cam

"Fenno Who?"


No one ever asked, "Fenno who?" He was the first one-name major figure in my life, beating the one-named sports stars of recent vintage by decades.

His generosity—so many accounts of what he gave to us are on this web site. When in 1996 classmate Alex Gunn and I asked if he would be willing to lead a March weekend choral festival in Boston, his "yes" came out before the echo of our question faded. And what a job he did with us, usually with a new composition tucked under his arm, until 2004, when the weekend's strenuous nature forced him to pass his baton to Jeff Douma. Needless to say, the Festival Fenno began lives on. Next March we'll feature at least one of his works.

Another instance: a decade or so ago the men's chorus with which I had been singing seemed to have leveled off in its musical development and showmanship. Was it us? Had we gone about as far as our talents could take us, or had we outgrown the director who had led us for five years. I invited Fenno to Boston to lead part of a rehearsal, to take us through several songs—"Motherless Child," as I recall, and a couple of others. In ten minutes, Fenno had drawn out of us sounds we had never made before. We made music that night that some of us thought we were incapable of—and we hired a new director three months later.

Last Friday the a cappella group spun out of that chorus ended a well-attended concert with Fenno's arrangement of "September Song" in his honor. A couple of us had trouble getting through its lyrics.

With incalculable gratitude,

Linus Travers '58

From Karen Sherman

Dearest Heaths:

I don't know that you'll want to post these pictures to the blog (though you can if you want), but I thought you'd like to see one way three of us demonstrated our love for Fenno when we came back for the Glee Club 145th in 2006.

(Left to right: Stephanie Golob '87, Karen Sherman '88, and Rachel Monfredo '87.)

We (together with Liz Miller '88) called ourselves the Back Row Altos because we were all altos who sat in the back row during rehearsals...and because we were regularly reprimanded by Fenno (in his usual "I love you; now shut up" kind of way) for talking when we should have been singing. I wish I could now say that I regret not singing more and talking less, but I have such fond memories of those days (including those reprimands) that I just can't!

Lots of love and continued good wishes,


From Lisa Bradner

I’ve said it before and I will say it again that Fenno Heath, you made my Yale experience what it was. Your leadership, humor, talent, passion and compassion touched me deeply as did your adult guidance and leadership in a time when we all thought we were grownups---but were very far from it. Fenno in your office at Hendrie Hall you were a beacon of sanity, humor and perspective I sorely needed.

So many people have written about the experience of singing that it’s hard to say more other than it brought the happiest, most meaningful experiences of my college career (Robert Shaw and the War Requiem being one of not THE defining experience). Fenno, you always gave 150% (at least) to every rehearsal and performance inspiring us to sit up straighter and do more. My sister always said you could have been a dancer because your lyricism and physical movement conducting was a beautiful art to watch. I’d have paid money to see you in a leotard and tights! J

Many of my best friends from college (and the ones I treasure most seeing now) came from Glee Club and from the hours we spent on tour buses laughing and joking and generally I’m sure, driving Fenno nuts. The common experience we shared of singing under one of the all time greatest choral conductors bonded us for life. I remember at the 20th (heaven help us!) reunion standing on stage with Liddy Manson who looked around and said, “This is what’s different about Yale—everybody sings!” She was so right and everyone sings in large part because Fenno Heath taught them how, and celebrated singing and kept many of the songs and traditions alive.

As many have already said the only problem with singing for Fenno is it ruins you for the experience of singing with anyone else. To this day I can’t hear Randall Thompson’s Alleluia without welling up in tears, Fenno and family you have given so many of us the gift of a lifetime. The only thing we can do to repay it is to sing and to share that joy of singing with everyone we know. So, fol de rol de rol, rol, rol—we love you and we thank you for everything you’ve given us all.

Lisa Bradner y’87

"Fen-no, Fen-no, Fen-no, Heath"

Over the weekend I thought about Fenno and sang the Gloria from his Mass, 2 beautiful settings of A.E Housman poems ("When I Was One and Twenty" and "Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now"), and a Dutch carol ("Er is Eeen Kindeke") that he arranged while on sabbatical in Holland in 1965-6. He had a most wonderful gift, and I am so fortunate to have shared the beauty of his music and the grace of his conducting.

I smiled over the weekend as I remembered how hard we tried to please and entertain Fenno. Most of us parted our hair in the middle just before coming on stage for one of our Christmas tour concerts, and the three upper parts droned "Fen-no, Fen-no, Fen-no, Heath" during the Switzer Boy yodel while the basses sang "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf." Perhaps these traditions have continued.

Brothers and sisters, sing on.

Greg Hayden, '68

From Rick Peiser

How fond are the memories of my Yale which was Fenno’s Yale. From my first Glee Club tour as a sophomore to South America, to accompanying the Glee Club in Sander’s Auditorium and playing through the bar of silence in the Hallelujah Chorus – 2 times!, to Fenno’s perfect arrangement for the Alley Cats of “Is this a lovely way to spend the evening?” to countless reunions and visits to Yale, Fenno was the constant , the nucleus around which so many other parts of my life at Yale and in music thereafter revolved. To have had such a profound impact on so many young lives, and to be an integral part of so many happy memories, is truly the essence of a life well-lived. Fenno, I will miss you.

Rick Peiser

Cambridge, MA

From Dr. Kristie Foell

I do indeed have a Fenno story to share! During my one and only year in the Glee Club, as a Yale senior, Fenno accompanied me on the piano for Reger's "Es blueht ein Roeslein' rosenrot" at a service at Battell Chapel. I don't really remember how this came about, as Fenno was not obligated to play at the church (as far as I know); but I had just returned from studying abroad in Germany and fancied myself quite the lieder expert, so maybe I asked him!

I'll never forget that, after we finished the song, Fenno spontaneously jumped up from the piano and gave me a big hug! That's how happy he was to make music, and how happy he made others with his music-making. He will be missed

Dr. Kristie Foell, Bowling Green State University
Assoc. Prof. of German

From Dick Wilde, 56E

Dear Carol,

It is with great sadness that Carla and I hear of Fenno’s illness and passing. As you know, our association over many years has been very important to us. In 2005 I wrote a letter of appreciation to Fenno, and he graciously wrote back to me saying that it was the best letter he had ever received. That made my day! If you are so inclined, I thought you might like to share that letter with your family at this time. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

With love,

Carla and Dick Wilde

Enclosure: Letter to Fenno dated 28 February 2005

Dear Fenno,

I have just turned 71 years old, and it is time for me to acknowledge what you, the Yale Glee Club, singing at Yale and our subsequent experiences together have meant to me over my lifetime.

As a youngster growing up in WWII, I decided early on to become an aeronautical engineer. However, in 1948, my dad, who was a chemical company VP in North Haven, received two tickets to the Yale broadcast of “Songs From New England Colleges.” We sat in Hendrie Hall (my first time there), and the Yale glee Club of 1948 stood on risers against the west wall. I had never heard such powerful, precise and moving singing in my life. I decided right there, that I would try for Yale and for the glee club, even though it meant giving up aeronautical engineering for mechanical engineering. While I didn’t know it at the time, you must have been singing to me in that group. Do you remember that broadcast?

I entered Yale with the class of 1955 in the fall of 1951 and tried out for the Freshman Glee Club. I didn’t make it, but Fred Pratt welcomed me into the Freshman Chorus. Meanwhile, my love of sacred music led me to the Battell Chapel Choir and Luther Noss. I was one of only two freshmen in the choir, and I loved that group. In the five years I sang there, I heard the finest organ liturgical music played on the brand new Holtkamp organ, sang wonderful sacred music, and heard legendary preachers, including Paul Tillich, the Niehbur brothers, Bill Coffin, Harry Emerson Fosdick and others. That was the beginning of a nearly continuous run of church choir singing that I am still enjoying.

I tried out for the varsity club in sophomore year, but didn’t make it. That year, Fred Pratt took a fellowship in Europe. Meanwhile, I was having great academic problems with math, which affected my whole engineering program, and at the end of that year I flunked out. However, Dean Robley told me to work for a year and take night school courses, which I did. Working in New Haven, I was available to Luther Noss for the chapel choir, and he allowed me to sing and to get paid. This was particularly important to me because my dad was having severe financial problems. I was on my own from that time on, including future college expenses. I returned to Yale the following autumn with the class of 1956, paying for that year with my earnings from my year of outside work and working in the medical school as a machinist. Soon after my return, we heard that Fred Pratt had died of leukemia. I cut Saturday classes and joined a group of Yale friends to sing at his service in Memorial Church at Harvard. On the bus trip up, I learned Randall Thompson’s Alleluia, which I have never forgotten.

Junior year I tried again for the varsity, and didn’t make it. However, Pete Westermann, whom I had gotten to know in the Battell Chapel Choir, invited me to sing in the Apollo, which I did and enjoyed. Senior year I tried again for the varsity, and you let me in. I think I was the last person admitted. I enjoyed that year very much, and it was so important to me that I quit my outside job to make time to sing. Meanwhile, I borrowed the cost of my entire senior year from a local bank, for which my employer for the year I was out of school cosigned the loan. Highlights for me were learning the Hindemith Requiem, which retuned my ears for all time to the dissonance of 20th century music, and our trip around the United States that summer. Three memorable impressions from that trip were that people all over the United States were basically the same (I didn’t begin to understand regional differences until my much later travels with the space program). Also, learning the Mormon hymn “Come, Come Ye Saints” while flying from Denver to Salt Lake City, and looking down and trying to imagine what crossing that territory by wagon must have been like in the 1840’s. And then to sing that hymn in the Mormon Tabernacle to the Tabernacle Choir! I still relate that experience to people. And lastly, singing the Cowell Hymns and Fuging Tunes and the Martinu Field Mass at Tanglewood. Henry Cowell and I conversed for about 15 minutes, and I really appreciated his spending that time with me.

Well, I met my objectives: I got my engineering degree from Yale and I sang with the Yale Glee Club! However, I didn’t realize that was only the beginning. You invited me to sing with the University Glee Club, and we sang together for several years in the United Church Choir. During those “New Haven” years, I built two stereo systems for you, one for your Hendrie Hall office and one for your Sheffield St. home. Those were fun projects for me. I custom designed the speaker enclosures to match the characteristics of the speakers, and I learned a lot about acoustics from those projects. But more important to me was the boost you gave to my confidence by being an already an eminent person who trusted my engineering judgment to build something of value for you. I also remember with great pleasure your inviting me back in 1957 to sing the Bach B Minor with Connecticut College, and later to sing the second and third sections of the Messiah with the Litchfield County Choral Union at Norfolk. Those pieces still reside in my repertoire. You also invited me to join the Glee Club European tour in 1958, but I had to refuse because Carla and I were getting married and she did not want to share our honeymoon with 80 other guys! I finally got to take a Yale overseas singing trip in 1998 when the YAC went to China. Carla and I celebrated our 40th anniversary on that trip.

Fenno, I could go on and on, about glee club singing dinners, reunions, Heath family musicales in New Hartford, and YCOB festivals in Concord and Milton. But you get the idea. You admitted me to a very select and prestigious organization that has formed a significant part of my adult identity and has given me a lifetime of pleasure and satisfaction. It has also opened some amazing doors. Let me cite an example. In 1990 I was part of the first US engineering delegation to visit our counterparts in the Soviet space program. We were in Moscow visiting “Nauka” (“science” in Russian). They built the life support equipment aboard the Russian Mir Space station. Imagine the scene: we are in a hunter green and white conference room in a really grubby and run down factory in downtown Moscow, with a plaster bust of Lenin glowering down at us. A long table has been set with water and fruit, and we Americans are on one side, and the Russians are lined up in a row on the other side. After the formalities, no one knows what to say. After what seems like an embarrassingly long time, a Russian points to my Yale Glee Club key on my tie bar, and asks through his interpreter, “What is that?” I answer through my interpreter that as an undergraduate I was privileged to sing with the Yale University Glee Club. He replies that while in medical school in Leningrad, he had established the singing society there. That breaks the ice. We talk about choral music, and the rest becomes history. (Re Barty: the world needs less talking and more singing) I subsequently became the first US engineer to go aboard a Mir space station. There was a second flight unit used for training the cosmonauts at Star City. Our trip to Russia led ultimately to the US government’s inviting Russia to join the International Space Station program, and I subsequently led the effort to integrate their Orlan (Eagle) space suit into the space station. As you know, the Russian ability to resupply the station after the loss of the Shuttle Columbia has been absolutely critical in keeping that program alive. Over the years, my Russian colleagues and I have written several joint papers for international presentation, and recently we have each contributed to books about the development of our respective countries’ spacesuits. In 2001 YAC sang in Moscow, and I invited about 30 Russian friends to hear us in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Joining my love of singing with the international space program has been very special for me.

This has been a long letter, but you and I have known each other for a long time, too. Thank you for being a teacher, inspiration and friend for more than 50 years.


Dick Wilde, 56E

Meeting Fenno

I will always remember with fondness my first meeting with Fenno
after I moved to New Haven. I was alone - my family was still in
Michigan - but he was kind enough to invite me to breakfast shortly
after I arrived. Within seconds, we discovered two mutual affinities
- for the genius of Robert Shaw and for the children's literature of
Sandra Boynton! I have cherished his friendship, guidance and
encouragement every since.

All of us in the current Glee Club know that our beloved ensemble is
what it is today because of Fenno's inspired musicianship,
leadership, and love. For me personally, it is a privilege and an
honor to be a part of the tradition he nurtured for so many
years. Fortunately, music is a living art, and Fenno will continue
to live on in the Glee Club as long as we have voices to raise!

From Robert Blocker - The Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music- Yale School of Music

When the history of music at Yale is recorded, a special chapter will be devoted to the legacy of Fenno Heath. As Director of the Yale Glee Club, he explored new musical frontiers - from international tours to football concerts, from his own compositions for the Glee Club to his
performances of major works in the literature. Fenno's passion for choral music permeated his life, but his influence reached far beyond the conductor's podium. He was a University citizen, a faculty member who loved this institution and relished its values. As President of the Friends of Music, his concern for students and their well-being was, for me, a memorable quality he brought to us in his retirement (though no one I knew ever considered him to be retired!).

In these days of reflection, we celebrate the many ways his life enriched us all. For Fenno and the gifts he brought to us, we are and shall be always grateful.

Robert Blocker
The Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music
Yale School of Music

Thank You, Fenno, From Bruce

From Manny Avala

To the family of Fenno Heath,

Please accept my most heartfelt condolences. Fenno was a truly remarkable and inspiring man. The first time I met him was at my audition in 1982, as a nervous sophomore who was somewhat lacking in confidence. Going in to the audition, I was almost sure I wouldn’t make the Glee Club. Fenno’s encouraging words and his warmth out me immediately at ease and somehow I did well enough to get in. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Glee Club under Fenno. He had that memorable quality of being, at once, a perfectionist and a person of deep humanity and kindness. He was a legend that will be remembered always.

I will keep him and the rest of the family in my prayers.


Manny Ayala
Yale Glee Club 1982-85
Yale 1985
Manila, Philippines

From Hal Chen

When I was 5 years old, my family and the Heaths attended the same church in New Haven. My mom told Fenno, "I want my son to be one of your singers one day." Fenno looked downward and smiled, "Sounds good to me, young man!" Sixteen years later, I had finished three great years singing for Fenno. Luckily, my mom had been right.

As I've scrolled through this blog, I'm reminded how this one person moved us with his passion for the music, his devotion to YGC, and his love for us. Herein, I see not only the names of beautiful songs, but also the names of so many dear friends -- some near, some far. It was Fenno who brought us together and kept bringing us back: all wanting another chance to sing Biebl's "Ave Maria" and another opportunity to be conducted by every fiber of Fenno's being (including his jowls). What a tremendous, joyous legacy.

As we give thanks for the gift of this extraordinary man, my prayers are with Carol and the entire Heath family. Godspeed and God bless.

Hal Chen '91

From Bert Ifill

For Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy and Terry:

Thank you for nurturing and supporting such a great light, so that so many of us could be illuminated by it over the years. It is a continuing inspiration to me that your love and support only intensified once Fenno receded from the limelight; it is good to see that love returned in all the posts from thousands of people he has touched. I once told Fenno, just before I left New Haven, that I had had only two or three heroes in my life; my father was one of them and he was another. I've long felt privileged to be part of your extended family; I stand ready to assist you in any way that will bring comfort in these difficult times.


From Karen

Hi! I didn't know your father, except through knowing you and your gift and love of music. Oh, and through his recorded appearance on the Christmas album you recorded with your sisters - having never met him, just those recorded moments made me wish I had known him and could have sung with him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I have been reading the blog entries from those lucky enough to have had the chance to sing with him, and it is stunning how many lives he touched and brought to music. These lives have gone on to reach others in waves outward, as music does. Be well, take care and sing on!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

From Cousin Dean

Hi Aunt Carol, Peggy et al -

I'm so sorry to receive your news about Uncle Fenno. I think it was a month ago when you first sent news that he was failing but it seems like just yesterday. It was great to hear that the whole family has been together, providing him (and each other) with the love & music that was his life.

My Mom always spoke so glowingly of Fenno. With the ease of playback available today, I'm sure if she were around now we'd be listening to the Yale Glee Club and the Whiffenpoofs every day. She unconditionally supported Art and my numerous sports interests. But I always considered her mentions of Fenno to be a way of telling us that she wished we were also interested in music beyond simply listening.

I looked forward to reading additions to the blog every day. Each entry provided some insight, and many made me wish I was a YGC alum. I even sent the link to our church choir director. He's been there over 20 years now, and I'm sure he will find some of the "Fenno-isms" to be useful as he works to get the choir to sound "presentable."

But with his lifetime love of music at work and at home, my mind's eye sees this scene when I think of him: wearing a bow tie, telling some goofy joke - - "An Englishman checks into the Waldorf Astoria Hotel..."


Cousin Dean

Goodbye, Fenno

In thinking about Fenno over the last few days, one memory that comes back is of the night, after a concert on a winter tour in upstate New York, when Fenno fell on the ice, while trying to push a car that was stuck, and cracked a rib. The next night, he was back on stage, conducting just as expressively as ever, as if nothing had happened. How could you not want to do your best for a guy who so obviously always gave HIS best? Others have made the same comment on the blog, but it's certainly true in my case that Fenno is the yardstick by whom I measure every other choral conductor with whom I've sung or whom I've watched. I'm not singing much anymore, much to my dismay, but any time I'm in the audience and I hear a choir starting to go flat, I can't resist the temptation to raise my index finger and to smile a bit, in hopes of pushing that tone back up where it belongs.

I consider myself fortunate to have sung in the Glee Club at about the time Fenno began to think this mixed chorus thing might actually work. I still remember a speech he gave at the end of our Christmas tour, in Chicago, in December 1972, about how proud he was of what the group had become. A couple of years later, Robert Shaw came to New Haven to conduct us in an Ives concert, as part of the University's commemoration of the Ives centenary. After the concert, the Glee Club officers went out for drinks with Fenno and Shaw. On the way back, Shaw said to Fenno: "Your successor will be a great man." At the time, we all scratched our heads about what he meant. ("What do your mean 'successor'? We think the genuine article is pretty great?") In the years since graduation, I've learned what Shaw meant. Fenno's successors have extraordinary talents of their own, but their success with the Glee Club has been in no small part because they have been able to follow in Fenno's footsteps in shaping a mixed-chorus tradition that is every bit as excellent, vibrant, and fun as the old one.

Finally, thank you to the Heath family for bringing us "into the tent" in this amazing blog. From the Glee Club picnics in your back yard at the beginning of each academic year, to Fenno's and Carol's extraordinary memory for Glee Clubbers who have graduated long ago, to allowing us to share in Fenno's final days, you've treated us like extended family, and we love you for it.

Ray Wells '75

Dad and SLOT at The Heath's Thanksgiving- Nov. 22 '08 VIDEO CLIP click on arrow

He was a legend that will be remembered always

To the family of Fenno Heath,

Please accept my most heartfelt condolences. Fenno was a truly remarkable and inspiring man. The first time I met him was at my audition in 1982, as a nervous sophomore who was somewhat lacking in confidence. Going in to the audition, I was almost sure I wouldn’t make the Glee Club. Fenno’s encouraging words and his warmth out me immediately at ease and somehow I did well enough to get in. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Glee Club under Fenno. He had that memorable quality of being, at once, a perfectionist and a person of deep humanity and kindness. He was a legend that will be remembered always.

I will keep him and the rest of the family in my prayers.


Manny Ayala
Yale Glee Club 1982-85
Yale 1985
Manila, Philippines

From Anne last week

Dear Fenno, Carol, and all the Heath Family--

As the daughter of a Yalie and a Glee Club member, I grew up singing "Bulldog Bulldog," " Bandalero," and innumerable other Yale songs. I heard stories of tours in South America and across the US, and I couldn't wait to join the traditions of the Glee Club when I came to Yale.

Although I was a member of the Glee Club during David Connell's tenure, Fenno's presence loomed large. In rehearsals, the watchful eyes of his portrait on the Hendrie walls encouraged us to work hard to make the key changes and dramatic shifts both correct and musical. In concerts, his presence on the balcony at Woolsey inspired us to greater heights. And even after I graduated, Fenno's continued presence and involvement in YGCA events showed me how possible it was to remain involved in the Glee Club for a lifetime. His presence and his music will be remembered and missed.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

yours in song,
Anne Geiger, TC '98

From Abby

When I was in high school my dad took me to the Yale-Princeton Glee Club concert. He took great pleasure in pointing out how superior YCS was, singing beautifully and without music! I was still only 15 but after that concert I knew that there was only one school and one singing group I wanted to be a part of--Yale and the Yale Glee Club. Both were better than I could have ever imagined. Three years in Battelle Chapel Choir and two years in Glee Club--these defined much of my Yale experience, and laid a musical foundation for all the singing I have done after college. Fenno, you are loved by so many. You have touched our hearts and souls in such a meaningful and musical way. I am choking back tears as I write this. Peace be with you and your family.

Abby Tate Reynolds '

From Marty Bixler

Dearest Carol, et al,

First of all, much love to you all, as always. Bobbsie sent me your family blog and it is great. I've been listening to Fenno's composition for voice and piano--"I will lift up mine eyes." Very beautiful.

For some reason I keep thinking of that very funny CD you made as a family with the pigs as stars. It was a great comfort to me when I was injured many years ago.What a marvelous bunch you are.

Life is terribly hard, but our love has to sustain us.


Martha Bixler

From Robert Vogt

Dear Carol, and family,

The sudden reality of the devastating news of Fenno, forwarded to me by our dear friend, Bruce McInnes, caught me entirely with shocked, unbelieving surprise! Regrettably, I had not been in touch with Fenno for several years, but always thought of him as advancing into very old age, still embodying the same enthused, spirited thoughts, expressions, and musical acumen which made him the much beloved figure at Yale and the world. My relationship with him centered mainly about our association in engineering and producing custom recordings for the Yale Glee Club, since as early as 1960 or '61 (a concert at Vassar, as I recall). He came to visit with me in Needham on an occasion or two, for editing or audition of our recordings. And when he graciously invited me to New Haven for discussion, or following a recording at Dwight or Woolsey, he always saw to it that I was his guest at Mory's, to wind up the afternoon in regal style. - I felt rather special, not being a 'Yalee!' And I was apprised early on, of his personal affection for a really 'good' cigar after one of his musical triumphs, and one time when planning to attend the club's performance at John Hancock Hall, in Boston, I did procure one of the finest cigars I could find in town, and stuck it into his jacket pocket after the concert, which he promptly unwrapped and lit up with great gusto, - the 'hell' with Boston's fire regs!

A life is no doubt measured by notable accomplishment in chosen endeavors, in which Fenno stands with the tallest. But perhaps more important, as I'm sure he would agree, are his family, and his legions of friends who gather with him now, in person, and in prayerful spirit and gratitude for his life and their place in it, made more meaningful for having been his true personal friend.

Sent with love, and sadness,


Robert A. Vogt

From Sam

To the Heath Family:

It may be that I have not seen Fenno more than once since I graduated from Yale in the turbulent year of 1969. However, my memories of the time I spent with him, and the influence he had on me are wonderfully vivid.

Not only did I sing in the Yale Glee Club and the SOB's, but I was a Music History major, and took conducting from Fenno. In addition, my scholarship job for two years was working in the Glee Club office. Weirdly, I ended up becoming a director of movies,television, and theatre, after a ten year career as an actor. There is never a day that I work in my craft that I don't exercise muscles that were first conditioned on the second floor of Hendrie Hall, in that wonderful rehearsal room. Singing in a group, with the rigor, discipline, concentration, and the spirit of cooperation engendered by Fenno, is an incredible life lesson; especially for life on a film set. The world would be a better place if everyone had the experience of being part of a group like the ones that Fenno magically created year after year. From the Football Medley, to "Mother of Men," to "Frostiana," to "In That Great Gettin' Up Mornin'," the music and the voices still ring in my ears. And if I close my eyes, I still see the elegance, grace, and spirit of the man who led us in song.

Thank you, Fenno.

All my love----

Sam Weisman '69

Yale Freshman Glee Club, Yale Apollo Glee Club, Battell Chapel Choir, Yale Glee Club Madrigal Singers
Society Of Orpheus and Bacchus

Goodbye, Fenno, and rest well

Dear family and friends of Fenno Heath –

I will always remember Fenno as the first person who gave me a chance to sing in a school group. I used to sing in the kids’ choir, then graduated to being the youngest member of the adult choir in several churches. However, when I tried to join my high school choir, they said I couldn’t because I couldn’t sight read. I could read music and play piano and flute, but I couldn’t match notes without at least one listening time through the music. When I changed high schools for my senior year, I was so defeated by the previous rejection, that I didn’t even try. When I got to Yale and tried out for the Freshman Chorus (then directed by someone other than Fenno), the same thing happened again.

Finally, I tried out for the Glee Club with Fenno – he said he couldn’t understand why I didn’t get into the Freshman Chorus and welcomed me into the Glee Club, despite my lack of sight-singing expertise. Over the next three years as I sang under Fenno twice a week on serious (and some fun) music, I finally learned how to sight read. All I had needed was a chance and Fenno was the first person to give me that. In the 30+ years since I graduated from Yale, I have had the opportunity to sing for a Revels recording, for a performance of the Fauré Requiem as the soprano soloist for the Pié Jésu, and in numerous church choirs. I have been a tenor for Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, an alto for a chorus in Livermore, CA, and finally back to the soprano Fenno first placed me in. His custom of insisting the Glee Club sing in a mixed format gave me practice and confidence in holding my own among different parts which has never failed me. I make myself useful in my current choir by being able to learn the ATB parts as they practice, so that I can support or supplement as needed. We are very small – only about 10 members in my church choir – with a wide range of singing and sight-reading ability, so our rehearsal times are full of parts practice. Thus it can happen that on Sunday morning the choir director/organist notices one of the hymns has a descant, which she asks me to sing 30 minutes later! Again, what Fenno gave me in the Glee Club holds true – be willing to try to sing anything and when you practice sing even your mistakes loudly so the director can hear and correct any problems.

Fenno was kind and gentle, and demanding and fierce. He was teacher and guide and had a great sense of humor when the situation called for it, as well as the capacity for serious annoyance on occasion. I remember when the Glee Club and the Whiffenpoofs did a European tour the summer of 1977. When we got to Copenhagen, we were taken on a tour of the Tübingen beer plant and finished with a red carpet tasting room full of all the beers in all their variety of colors. The bottles were carefully stacked upright in several piles on each table with one or two bottles of orange juice and a few sodas in each pile. It was a measure of the self-respect the Glee Club had for their performances and their desire not to let Fenno down, that the juices and the sodas went very rapidly and much of the beer was untouched or people had just one. Following the tour, we were taken to the main city park and treated to a smorgebröt luncheon with beer in kegs. Again, the Glee Club people didn’t indulge much. The same could not be said for the Whiffenpoofs and Fenno was LIVID, when he had to deal with drunk Whiffs right before the concert was due to begin. I found out from another student, as Fenno gave no sign during our performance that anything was wrong. Besides – you could tell they were having a hard time as we watched during our intermission as they sang. I have no idea what Fenno said, but I know he was most angered by the way they were letting Yale down.

Another incident was during a winter tour, when the Glee Club was travelling from a concert in far western New York state to our final tour concert at the Yale Club in New York City. We occupied two tour busses, driving through a blizzard so bad that the only way to get through was for the busses to follow immediately behind the slowplows on the New York Turnpike. We ended up traveling through the night and when one bus broke down, we crowded as many from the second bus onto the one that could still drive. Of course, we made sure that Fenno got on, even though he was making noises about needed to stay with the students left behind. Some people managed to get up onto the luggage racks to try and nap, but no one got much sleep. We arrived at the Yale Club with just enough time to wash up and change before going on stage. There was a suggestion we not do the concert which was cried down by all. So, tired and rather hungry, the show went on. It wasn’t without its moments, though. One of the sopranos, who sang in the back row because she was so tall, fainted during a song, toppling forward into the two rows in front of her but sparing the very front row. She was caught and carried off stage by one of the basses, still singing his part as he disappeared into the wings! Fenno never batted an eyelash although he must have seen it, so we followed his cue and kept on singing as people picked themselves up off the risers and took up their parts and places again. I think it happened during one of the Yale football songs, which we knew so well we could sing them without our full attention.

That’s another thing Fenno taught me - With the exception of the Bach B Minor Mass, Fenno insisted our concerts be completely memorized. I have never stopped doing so in all the years since. It’s a great habit and I’ll always be grateful to the man who taught me and coached me during my years at Yale.

Goodbye, Fenno, and rest well.


Jodi H. Benson