So sad to hear of Fenno's passing. Though I never sang in the group while he was director (I first joined in 2004), I am so glad to have spent some time with him. In the spring of 2007 I interviewed him for a paper about the Glee Club; I think that interview was the most enjoyable research I did during my entire time at Yale! During the interview, he exemplified the YGC spirit. Here I was, a pesky undergrad asking about decisions he made about the group, and he treated me with that fellow ygc-er warmth I've come to know and love. It was wonderful hearing about his experiences (I didn't know he knew Carl Sandburg!), and fascinating to discuss the topic of my paper: the transition to a co-ed choir.
I also always enjoyed looking up during a YGC concert in New Haven and coming across Fenno in the audience. Whereas a lot of retired conductors would cause a mild ruckus on par with the appearance of a celebrity, Fenno simply came to hear the group. I finally took the initiative to hunt him down, so to speak, afterwards to say "hi" and thank him for coming. It always meant a lot to me that he came to our concerts, even when he might have not be feeling all that well.
Even more than his attendance at our concerts, his appearance at a rehearsal for the commencement concert of 2007 stands out in my (and I'm sure many other YGCers', memory). We asked Fenno up to the stage to conduct "'Neath the Elms." It was, of course, very fun, and we all happily recall him dropping his hand to show he needed more from the basses, more manly a tone; needless to say, they did so.
This is such sad news, but I hope it can also be a celebration of Fenno. It sounds like people are sending lots of memories, which I'm sure will be wonderful.
-Matt Dell, MC '08
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