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