How I wish I could sneak into your hospice room and decorate it with silly sayings, the way Rachel Monfredo (now Gee) and I did when you were in the hospital at one point during our Glee Club days! I remember that in honor of two of the pieces we did that year, we made an advertisement which we stuck to the wall: Uncle Ben's Heiland Reis -- Famous Among the Barns! Perhaps Rachel remembers some of the other things we came up with. I don't know how you felt at the time, but we had fun!
And that is definitely something you gave us -- the ability to have fun with music, which we probably had within us all along but which we might never have dreamed was possible with such challenging music as the works you shared with us. To this day, my favorite pieces we sang are the ones you wrote and/or arranged for us...even if you did seem to have it in for the altos sometimes! I often put on the recordings to see if I can sing along and still manage the harmonies...and I do all right, though you were probably correct when you told me at one reunion that "Fern Hill" would be way too hard for a group of rusty alumni to sing with just one day's rehearsal! I was just listening to "Death Be Not Proud" yesterday, so the mention Paul (Sarkozi) made of it in his letter to the blog resonated with me even more than it might have otherwise.
I'm rambling here, but there are two things in particular I want to make sure to say. First of all, one thing I have valued more than anything over the years is that Fenno (and Carol, you too!), you have had an amazing ability to remember us all after so long -- or at any rate to make us feel that you do. For us there was only one Fenno, but for you there were so many singers! And yet when I see you at a reunion and reintroduce myself, you give me a big hug and yell at me for thinking you wouldn't remember.
Second of all, I laughed out loud at what Fred Sellers '65 wrote in the blog before me: "Fenno,You have been the standard by which I've judged all choral conductors since my Yale days, and nobody else ever quite measured up." That's so true! Part of the reason I haven't sung much in the years since then is that I couldn't find a conductor who matched what I was looking for -- let alone a chorus that held itself to the high standards to which you inspired us to hold ourselves. For which I suppose I should say: Thanks a lot.
I miss you, Fenno -- I've missed you since graduation and I will miss you more now. Thanks a lot (no, really!)...thank you so very much for all you have given me, and all you have given so many people over so many years.
All my love,
Karen Sherman '88
Back Row Alto
P.S. Thank you to the whole family for sharing Fenno with us -- and for sharing this time with us, too.
F F Heath Jr. 12-30-1926 to 12-05-2008
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Please feel free to share your memories with us about Fenno/Dad. Send your stories/memories to firstname.lastname@example.org 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