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
F F Heath Jr. 12-30-1926 to 12-05-2008
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Thank you. Your letters bring us joy.
~Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, and Terry Heath