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 email@example.com 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
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Bobbsie Hyman Granger
I have such a clear mental image of that I-just-ate-a-mealy-apple face as you listened to a particular sloppy passage, rubbing the fingers of one hand together as if that would somehow clean up the mess we were making. And of you pointing to the alto section (which actually meant pointing to where the altos would have been had they not been standing mixed), always with that insistent finger, trying to get more of that all-important 3rd-of-a-chord from them. And the hand flying this way and that, with or without the glasses dangling from the fingers, often crashing into the music stand as you made some insistent point about phrasing or pronunciation. And the warm-ups (eeyaw, eeyaw) with jaw lax, or jowls shaking. And the energy with which you sat down (and stood up!) to play the football medley. And as mentioned elsewhere, those few strands of hair you would pull straight up, to try to get us back in tune.
Glee Club reunions only feel like Glee Club reunions when you're there, Fenno. You can hear that we're all missing you already, but your music and your influence will live on, even longer than the Glee Club albums which some of us still listen to when we want to go back a little in time.
Mark J. Polisar, '84
Fenno, Carol and all,
I went upstairs to find my Fenno buttons and found that I still have four of them. I wore them on each coat while at school, and certainly for every concert, so it was important to have a few extra. I have them out and about the house tonight.
Many others have done such an eloquent job at recounting specifics from Yale – the tours, the concerts, the rehearsals, the “who wrote this?” we would hear from you as we sang yet another of your tasteful modulations in a piece you composed! I wanted to recount something more recent to me, the “Fenno-fest” from March 2004 where you came to
Martin J. Brennan, III
Vice President and Managing Director Management Solutions
Washington Consulting, an Alion Company
Before I even came to Yale, I knew about the singing. Oh how I knew about the singing. One of my greatest dreams was to "get into" the Yale Glee Club. The happy day I learned that I was accepted into YGC, I told my father, Ronald Roseman, who was a colleague of Fenno's at the Yale School of Music, and he shared my excitement. He knew how much it meant to me and how wonderful an experience I was going to have singing under Fenno.
And wonderful experience I did have.
I learned so much from you musically, Fenno. How to make music, versus sing notes; how to breathe (or not!); how to since everything from spirituals to Berlioz to Ives to Yales songs to Heath…; how to sing oh-so-much better; how to sing ("How do they do it?") and how to SING.
But I experienced much more than "just" the wonderful music and singing. Through you and YGC, I made fantastic, life-long friends—my fellow YGCers, YGC alumni, other Yalies, you and Carol and your family …. Fenno and Carol, you welcomed us all into your family. And I have no idea how you did it, but you never seemed to forget any of our names. After 39 years, that's a lot of names! I travelled to exotic locales with the Glee Club—Europe, East and West, on my first trip out of the US (ex-Canada), all up and down New England; and of course, the Industrial Cities Winter Tour, for which I was the proud co-Tour Manager with Matt Ringel. And after a turbulent and emotional first-semester experience with Whim, for whom I left YGC to pursue a "glamourous" singing group experience, you welcomed me back into YGC for my second semester with open arms, love, and nary a scolding. Thank you.
Fenno, thank you for giving me the gift of making me part of the Yale Glee Club.
Fenno, thank you also for your music. Thank you for arranging the Yale Songs in SATB! Thank you for recognizing, enabling and promoting that women singing in the Glee Club would be a good thing. Without you, I may never have gotten the chance to experience—and still experience for the rest of my life through the Yale Alumni Chorus—the joys of choral singing with Yalies.
Thank you too for your own beautiful compositions—"Cascade", "Tiger, Tiger", "The Lamb", "Fern Hill"…to name a few. Your pieces are always a joy to sing, and the endings are always, well, so unmistakably "Fenno". I always particularly enjoyed singing your beautiful setting of Corinthians. There are so many parts in that piece where the harmonies and melodies make me feel like I am soaring on heavenly air—the music is so beautiful. "The greatest of these is love…" Indeed. Fenno and Carol, thank you for sharing your love with us, through your music, through your family, through your friendship, through your hearts. Fenno, we will always love you.
With Much Love,
Rémie Roseman Christ
YGC 1988 - 1991
Dear Fenno, I so admire you and recall my time with the YGC and its members very fondly. I cannot walk through Grand Central Terminal without thinking about incredible experiences with you as our beloved teacher. But you also had teachers. The story below comes from my father's cousin, Mrs. Annabeth Perls, who lives in Pacific Palisades. She is a pianist, a marvelous singer in her own right, and was your French teacher at Yale. She related this story to me by phone, and sends her best wishes to you and your family. Jim Lande '87
(Annabeth Perls, interviewed by phone) "Fenno was brilliant as a student. I was myself a graduate student at Yale. Here I was, not much older than my students. It was Fenno's freshmen class. I gave him the assignment and called on him and he trotted up with his fellow student and brought out a flute or something. They did their homework, see, not knowing I was a musician. They had translated their French homework into music, and turned the assignment into some versification, and they thought they were playing a joke on me. At this point the class had only had perhaps four weeks of French. I was enchanted! It was the very best thing anyone could have done. (Q. What were you doing at Yale?) I was a 1st or 2nd year graduate student working on my thesis. It would have been Fenno's freshman year. There were two women taking their master's in Romance Languages. Henri Peyer was the great teacher there in the department. But the person I really loved was Jean Boosch; he was still alive a few years ago when he turned 100, perhaps he is still living now. I was a graduate assistant under Professor Boosch. He had initiated the teaching system where you speak French from the first day. We did not use English. This was the first time anyone had used such a method in class. The students would have to learn their vocabulary and grammar at home and there was not much theory. This was the way to teach the military officers who were at Yale who were going to
What I remember most is that you made the extraordinary ordinary, and that is a great thing. You took a bunch of kids from who knows where and exposed us to the kinds of experiences that most people never even dream of. Sing at Carnegie Hall? Have private sessions with Robert Shaw? Do a concert with Victor Borge? Travel the world and sing as the Berlin Wall was crumbling down? All in a day's work for the YGC. And it was fun, not intimidating.
Besides the wonderful musical gifts, it gave so many people the poise and the confidence to go forth and aspire to and hopefully accomplish great things. This spirit lives on the the Yale Alumni Chorus, which also makes the extraordinary ordinary. I can only hope I can inspire just one person on to greatness as you did for so many.
Thank you and Godspeed.
Lily Giordano '90
As last night's dress rehearsal stretched on, and students began to lose their focus and chatter when we needed quiet, I heard myself saying, with a grin, "I love you. Now shut up." This was not the first time I've said these words to a group of students who both thrill me and drive me berserk. I had always thought the words were mine, but today I read them on this blog and learned that they were Fenno's, lodged deep somewhere in my musical soul. Once, many years ago, they must have been directed at me and my rambunctious singing friends, but it's only now that I recognize how real the sentiments were. Like a new mother who suddenly discovers the depth of love her own parents must hold for her, it is only when we become teachers (conductors, directors) ourselves that we learn how deeply our own mentors cared for us. Students come and go, and are replaced every year with a fresh batch of potential, but the connection is deep nonetheless.
Fenno, you were probably around the age I am now when I came into your office and challenged you to take me on as your first female assistant, the first young woman to direct the Freshman Chorus. I may have been frightened and full of self-doubt, but I know that I presented myself as a cocky know-it-all who deserved to be taken seriously. The temptation to put me in my place must have been enormous. Instead, you treated me with respect and decency, giving me the freedom to experiment and learn from my mistakes. You gave me free reign and support with the freshmen, and let me conduct the Glee Club in a complex Bach motet on our tour of Central America, though prudence would have urged you to give me something requiring less musical maturity. (I wish I could find the news clipping from one of the countries we visited, with a photo and caption which must have galled you as much as it amused you: a photo of me conducting the Glee Club, captioned with YOUR name, misspelled: "Seno Health". What made it even worse - "seno" means "breast" in Spanish!)
When I was at Yale I probably felt more connected to your daughter Lucy, with whom I played viols, then I did to you. So full of my recent discovery of early music, I didn't fully recognize the gifts you gave me or acknowledge your generous mentorship. Last night, as your words came out in rehearsal, I was reminded once again of the deep and lasting effect you have had on me as a teacher and musician. Thank you, Fenno, for what you have given to so many countless young musicians - more than we ever realized.
Sarah Mead, '75
I came to Yale because I heard the Glee Club sing at an event in Buffalo, NY (it must have been a dreary Winter tour that year!). "Fern Hill" was on the program and it remains one of my favorite things we sang in the Glee Club.
I may have entered Yale an enthusiastic singer, but I left Yale a committed choral singer and have sung in choruses ever since and I thank you and your enthusiasm for us undergraduate singers for this ever life-enriching transformation.
Steven Ralston, '85
180 Maiden Lane, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Bob, YGC, 63-66
The Rev. Robert D. Hughes, III, Ph.D.
Norma and Olan Mills Professor of Divinity
Professor of Systematic Theology
School of Theology
Sewanee: The University of the South
I passed through Yale and the Glee Club during the David Connell years. It was always an electric moment when we found out that we would be singing one of your pieces, or better yet, when you would be popping in to check on our progress.
I can't remember which of your arrangments I had the privilege to sing first. But I do remember the piece for the inauguration of President Levin. Putting that music together was one of my fondest memories as a YGC singer. There came a moment in time when all of those Fenno-type chords and transitions (which initally, to be honest, made absolutely no sense to me) finally gelled into a spine-tingling beautful melody--a dynamic journey within which the music lifted on the page and came to life. I still carry all of those chords and transitions in my head and find myself humming that inauguration piece at very random times.
I now find myself back in New Haven, and with the nostalgia for my YGC years as strong as ever, I can see you standing in the balcony of Woolsey, after finishing one of your pieces, humbly accepting the admiration of your family, your fellow singers, and all those who had experienced your masterpieces as audience members.
Thank you for touching so many lives with your gifts. Thank for crfeating my all-time favorite moments in singing (the peak of Shenandoah, the big key change in Antigone--I'm listening to all of them today with tears of joy!)
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Dave Walker '96
So many Yale legends fade away or say goodbye and continue their lives elsewhere. Fenno continued to be a presence. My favorite songs from YGC - Fern Hill, The Lamb - songs that are so part of my consciousness that I dream of them, and can be uplifted for a full day when I wake up humming them - thank you for those. And thank you for my glimpses of glee club history - guest conducting here and there, leading us in song at YGC reunions, and conducting rehearsals during my college reunion. I read other folks' posts on the blog, and I have my own memories - the tiny tugs to urge us to tune, warm smiles when the chords finally clicked into place - thank you (all) for reaching beyond the generations of glee clubbers who were directly your charge, and continuing to give of yourself. Thank you.
Shana (Katz) Ross '00
You gave me such gifts, not only as a spirited leader of our Glee Club but also as my choral conducting and composition teacher. I use them every day in my life as a musician and am forever grateful. I send all my love to you, Carol, Peggy and all the Heaths.
Eric Schorr '82
With incredible gratitude to Fenno and all that he taught me, I write to confess that "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" has been in my head since Thanksgiving, and I've been singing it to myself hundreds of times in these past weeks. I know that deliverance can take several forms, and I am grateful to read about your wonderful family, Fenno, around you and filling your days with love as you prepare for your deliverance.
I cherished my year in the Glee Club, the year after I sang in Whim 'n Rhythm and finished up my Senior Year. Fenno, you were powerful and funny and brilliant. I remember one day you stopped our rehearsal to tell us that a satellite had crashed and the astronauts had perished. You knew about death then, and you taught us about tragedy and living despite it. You had us make the most beautiful music to honor the dead.
I will always remember you.
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Dear Fenno, you taught me so much about music, how to hear and sing and understand it.... I've never forgotten your indomitable spirit and the wonderful years in the Glee Club. Thank you and God bless you.
Now I'm listening to some of your music and remembering, and thinking of all your family.
June Melchior '78
Sarah Schwab Ambrogi '84
Fenno, there is no question that you are the most important influence from my time at Yale. Though I had played the piano and viola for years, I didn't even start singing seriously until I was a college freshman. And now singing is my primary lifetime passion, one that I cherish and will always credit to you for inspiration.
Starting with preparations for the Berlioz Requiem under Robert Shaw in freshman year, you taught me about musicianship, fellowship with generations of Yale alumni, and, somehow amid those experiences, all the lessons of life that really matter. You gave your students such pride in representing a top ensemble consistently for concert after concert, tour after tour. And boy, was it fun! All good singers know that the real joys of a chorus are in the rehearsals, and I never went to a Glee Club practice without high anticipation for what we would experience.
Your continuing friendship after we both "graduated" in1992 means the world to me. Thanks for all the Yale Club caroling gigs, the Milton workshops, the Grunt recording sessions, the Singing Dinners and reunions, your Robert Shaw bio that we published at Scribners, and our time together working on glee club history projects and the "Fennobilia" exhibit at the Music Library.
One of my favorite Fenno quotes is from one of the later Milton workshops. Speaking of the audience, you instructed: "Give them better than they deserve!" This, Fenno, is exactly what you have done for us, and we are the richer for it.
With peace and love,
Tim DeWerff '92
I hope these words ring into your ears like a song. It's a song of thanks for what Yale, and you and the Glee Club, in particular, did for this true Midwestern boy. You opened a world so rich in music. It's like a mother load of gold. We are better for it as well as the world. Travel on winter tours in the US; seven weeks on tour in the summer of 1961 through Latin America; Glee Club reunions - 1961 (100th), 1986 (125th) and each five years since. We know you will be with us in spirit in 2011 - you and Barty.
A highlight of lasting Glee Club memories makes me think of your cross-country farewell retirement tour stop in Chicago - the Artists' Club (or some such name) in Orchestra Hall and your gesturing to me as the evening wound down in song - "You've done this solo for me before, haven't you? Let's go" - "Ride the Chariot"! No, I hadn't, but Oh!, did I have fun.....doing the solo under your direction!!!!! You sure know how to lift gifts out of people and to share your gifts in return. Thanks for the privilege of being under your sway.
May you rest in peace when that glory time comes. Love to you and Carol and your family.
If Fenno were proofing my e-mail , he would catch me on the "It's like a mother load (sic) (=LODE) of gold" statement. Another memory of Fenno is his working with me as Historian of he Glee Club in 1961-62 in a write-upof.....whatever......"let's get rid of the split infinitives!". Always the stickler, not just in music. That's Fenno. Thanks for the person that God made you.
Always in love and esteem,
John Gerlach, '62
Even though I didn't get to sing with you while you were the official director of the YGC, I have had the pleasure of singing with you a number of times through the years at various reunions and events, and I have heard so many (wild and hilarious) stories about you from David Connell and various Yale Alumni Chorus members that I feel like I *was* in one of your Glee Clubs!
You are a legend in the Glee Club family-- not only for your musical gifts and passion (and fabulous quotes from the podium), but for your charismatic personality, strength of leadership, and caring mentorship of so many hundreds of glee clubbers. You are an inspiration to us all-- those who had the privilege of singing under your baton, and those future glee clubbers who will come to know you through the epic stories passed down through the generations.
You touched my life even in the few personal encounters we shared, and through the many songs and arrangements you gifted us through the years, and I am grateful for that. "Thank you" will never be enough. With respect and gratitude,
Julianne Parolisi, '02
with much love,
Sonya G. Baker (BK '87)
Dear Fenno (and family)
Thank you so much for all you have given to so many people. You were such an inspiration to me while I was in school, and you never failed to infect me with your unbridled passion for choral music. Please know that I am one of many who will always be grateful for your mentoring and guidance, your love and support. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Director of Music
St. Paul's on the Green
60 East Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
Tel: (203) 847-2806
Fax: (203) 847-5818
That is sad news. Fenno was the guy that first showed me that choral singing was more than just making "the right noise", and that a group of singers was more powerful than any one member.
He probably won't remember me – he wouldn't even if he were not ill, I was just another tenor among hundreds. But, let him know that I've continued singing in a chorus for 20 years, all because he taught me what a joy it was.
My prayers for him and you, and your family.
This is just a note to let you know I'm thinking of you. My years in the Glee Club ('82-'84) gave me some of the most formative experiences and wonderful memories of my life. You taught me not just about music, but about commitment to excellence and, maybe more important, to honest effort, even when excellence might be out of reach! Thank you.
The first time I saw Fenno's face, it was on the button on the lapel of a Glee Club member before a Harvard-Yale Concert. I was a freshman, and didn't quite understand why one would put one's conductor's face, no matter how dashing, on a button.
Then I joined the Glee Club, and discovered a man whose passion for music, for community, for tradition and for people created one of the formative experiences of our lives. While conducting, Fenno was strong and kind, impatient and wry, always trying to draw out of us that elusive performance that only he could hear. He weaved song into our lives so powerfully that to hear a fragment of one of our shared songs is to revisit that time and place when Fenno's passion and guidance helped transform each of us into something far greater than ourselves. He taught us love, grace, humor and joy, in rehearsal, on stage, and everywhere in between.
Fenno Heath, you profoundly influenced my life. I still have your button. I always will.
I was thinking of you just the other night, with no idea of what was happening, wondering how you were doing, and hoping it was better than it apparently is. Then Tim forwarded me this link today, and time is of the essence.
When I walked in to 201 Hendrie as a TD freshman in September 1982 to see my freshman adviser, Fenno Heath, I knew instantly that that room was where I wanted to be. It didn't take much longer for me to figure out that you were who I wanted to sing for. Thank you so much, Fenno, for asking me to sing in Battell choir immediately, and admitting me to the Glee Club the following year, where I had so much fun just plain rehearsing. Your wit, your energy, and your musicianship have set the standard for me in my adult choral life - I loved my time in 201 Hendrie, at Battell, and in Woolsey like no other time I spent at Yale, which is saying something.
I judge all the conductors I have had since then based on your ability to get what you wanted with an eloquent, concise and amusing turn of phrase, or a facial expression, unseen by the audience, that would both tell me what to do and make me smile in spite of myself at clearness and humor of it ! I'll never forget your explanation of how to approach pronouncing the words in "Fa Una Canzone", which was simply to say, with exaggerated emphasis on ALL the consonants, "SPAGHETTI"; I also have a very clear picture in my mind of being in tails in a hot Woolsey Hall, halfway through a Brahms motet with pitch starting to deflate, and you pinching your fingers together and lifting them up with gentle urgency as if the pitch were the hair of a baby, which you were trying to pluck without it noticing.
Thank you most for the privilege of creating harmony in a confused world, do it well, and enjoy it for its own sake - the camaraderie that I felt there was due to knowing that we singers were in the most capable hands around, and the confidence you inspired in us took us to greater heights than would have been possible through a merely technically satisfactory rehearsal. It's also what made singing Yale songs so much fun - knowing that we weren't just doing it pro forma, but that we were approaching it as real music.
This I think was clearest in a concert at Battell where half of us trooped up to the balcony to render the call and response in "Der Geist hilft Unsrer Schwachheit Auf", the end of which was greeted, before applause, by a single voice somewhere in the audience saying "wow".
Fenno, you are the best, most fun, most rewarding conductor I ever had, and singing for you was a peak musical experience in my life - the 125th was but a small way of saying thank you to you - nowhere near adequate.
SO, thank you for these wonderful memories and may you find peace
(sorry this has been so long).
You and your family (Hello Carol and Terry) are very much in my thoughts.
Fred Nangle, '86
This morning, riding on the train from the suburbs into the city, my fellow passengers were slightly startled to see a 54 year old man chuckling, while tears were streaming down his face as he was reading his Blackberry, logged onto the blog thoughtfully provided by your children. The memories shared by all of your disciples brought back plenty of my own, all of them happy, proud, even joyous days singing under your tutelage.
For me, getting selected for the Glee Club my freshman year was one of my crowning achievements that year. I remember so well meeting you for my audition, racing through the scales, butchering the sight reading but somehow pulling through, in that wonderful Hendrie Hall space with the oil portrait of Barty and all of the exotic posters on the wall from Glee Club Tours from around the world. I imagined the places I’d see with my new Clubmates; little did I know that my first tour was in December to
Joining your group was also my first connection that I had joined a company of like-minded scholar-singers, with a responsibility to a legacy to be upheld and burnished. We were truly Yale’s ambassadors around the country and around the world, and through your leadership I immediately sensed that responsibility and was proud to be a part of that.
I wasn’t one of your strongest singers. I struggled through some of the more esoteric pieces, straining to hit some of those impossibly high notes for my range, fighting through some of the more dissonant harmonies, holding onto those last notes for what seemed like an eternity. I admit I was a Blue Book slut, loving the joyous and boisterous Football Medley, ‘Neath the Elms, Chariot, and the like, so much so that my fellow backbencher Katie Albert would frequently shove an elbow into my ribs and furiously whisper “hey Osborne, you sound like a damn Beach Boy- lose the nasal tone and dial it down!”
And while the concerts and tours are top of mind memories, what the contributors of your blog brought back to me was just how much fun those weeknight evenings were with you. I’m sorry I can’t contribute any more Fenno-isms to the list compiled, but I swear I heard you say every one that is on the list. And mostly I loved seeing the enjoyment that you took from us, and I appreciated what a true calling this noble profession was for you.
Will Osborne ‘76
"This is really like a virtual Glee Club reunion!"
Your letters are bringing her incredible comfort.
Heath, The Greatest of These is Love:
Fenno: “I was having you do something you shouldn’t do” YGCer: “Breathe?”
F: “G-ddamn sewing circle and bridge club!”
F: (on the final page) “Make it crunch.”
Brahms, Make Thou In Me, God
“I’m not sick, I’m just in love. That’s a song. You had to be there.”
“Choke, sneeze and have general disarray.”
(At the andante) “Ah, the fig leaf movement.”
“Don’t be a bass, be a singer!”
“Legato, luscious…I never said that before in my life.”
Messaien, O Sacr um Convivium
”Begin, basses and friends, fat like me!”
(To first tenors): “You’re all naked there. Let’s add the altos, just for fun.”
“I didn’t come here to insult you.”
“That crescendo was almost loud.”
“Strangest music I’ve ever heard.”
(At the Rex Tremendae) “This is the dumbest music ever written.”
(At the Lacrymosa): “Only Berlioz would write this.”
Heath (arr.), This Train
“You sound like the East Cupcake Jr. High Marching Band!”
“I have the most wonderful upbeat in the world.”
outpouring of music and memories for Fenno on this wonderful web
page. Thanks Peggy for making this possible. It feels so simple,
really, to say why I honor Fenno. I'm one of the kids from the
country who came to Yale with an OK singing voice and found his life
transformed because of this witty, clear, disciplined, inspiring,
grounded, graceful, passionate, and fun man! Each of those adjectives
rings as true as the pitches he gave us, the magistral hand, the
commanding eye. The respect and love I feel for Fenno rises from
those undergraduate years and is memorialized in the 1965 'Round the
World Tour Book. My appreciation for him deepened over the years. Each
encounter is a gift. I was so happy to stand with the Washington
Men's Camerata and the MastersingersUSA at the IMC this past March in
a glorious 'Fennofest' led by Bruce McInnes, culminating in that
massive refrain, Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
John Harpold '66
We all knew, even at the time, that Fenno was remarkable. The energy, the confidence, the power to take a giggling, flirting, unfocused group of nattering adolescents and pull astounding music out of them to fill a hall or cathedral and leave audiences thunderstruck. You've always been a force of nature and almost mythical figure, Fenno. This funny little man in a bowtie who could crush us one minute, redeem us the next and leave us all astonished, as that last glorious chord evaporated and the audience erupted in cheers, at what we had done. You always made us more than we knew we could be.
Like many who've posted, I've been unable to find a director and, consequently, choral group beyond Yale that could begin to duplicate the combination of enjoyment, cameraderie and excellence of the YGC under Fenno.
My YGC experiences -- the back rubs at rehearsal, the thrilling performances, the Super Cool Mellow Stunt Bus, the Scandinavian tour in '87 -- are among the most cherished of my life. And you're front and center, Fenno, the guardian angel of glee.
Remember, guys, how he would make us sing quietly as hybrid cars, barely emitting a whisper, challenging our vocal apparatus to stay on pitch and damn near inaudible at the same time, making that go-away gesture, savoring the ethereal whisper and, no doubt, the earnest looks of superconcentration on all our young faces, and prompting us with that Fennoism, "Make them wonder, 'how do they do it?'"
I don't know how we did it. The only answer is: "Fenno." Peace to you, Fenno, and Carol and all the family. You live forever in our hearts and memories, a harmony that comes from everywhere and lingers, never quite dying away.
Samantha Bennett, '88
President, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Irreverence is the champion of liberty
and its only sure defense.
-- Mark Twain
May I also say that as your accompanist for three wonderful years and the tour of the world, I was constantly in a state of fear and panic, knowing your formidable keyboard skills and high standards for the progress of each rehearsal and performance. I have treasured every encounter since those wonderful years, and the memory of our singing, of the songs we love so well.
Robert W. Ulery, Jr., '66, '71 Ph.D.
Professor of Classical Languages
Wake Forest University
Those who touch us most deeply have become part of us every day. Fenno shared his great gift of song and it lives on in me and in countless others. Can there be any finer remembrance and tribute? Years ago my wife commissioned a collage for my birthday, taking my favorite photos of our daughter, and I gave her also words from poems set to music by Fenno, which I often sing. The collage hangs in my living room, and his spirit is with me. I will always remember with great fondness the European Tour of 1970, the first with both men and women, and his great joy of song and of life. The high point for me was the concert in the Cathedral in Salamanca, and I will bet the music brought forth from his fingers that evening will forever echo in heaven.
Class of 1970, and Co-European Tour Manager.
Last night was the debut performance of the Seattle Jewish Chorale, a community choir I founded this fall. One of the goals in our mission statement is "to build bridges of understanding and respect through the universal language of music." Well, you know where I learned all about that, as well as about the rewards of bringing all one's passion, intellect, and intestinal fortitude to the pursuit of choral singing.
My time in Glee Club (three years as an undergrad, and two bonus seasons as a post-graduate New Haven resident) was the highlight of my Yale experience. The Yale Alumni Chorus, of which I have been an active member since its inception, remains my strongest link with Yale and my fellow alumni. Whenever we gather, and indeed,=2 0whenever I sing with any choral group, memories of Fenno's words, wisdom, wit, twinkling eyes, and, yes, sometimes glowering expressions, are always there with me. To my new Jewish choir, I have tried convey the sense of purpose, high expectations, and sheer joy in choral singing that I carry with me from Glee Club, and from Fenno (as well as some Fennoisms tossed in for good measure.)
The first piece my Chorale sang last night was an adaptation of Palestrina's Dona Nobis Pacem, substituting the words of the Hebrew prayer Sim Shalom ("Create peace, goodness and blessings.") We also performed a setting of Mi Shebeirach, the prayer which asks for divine intervention on behalf of those in need of healing. Please know that my heart was, as I sang those songs, and is now, as I write these words, full of sincere wishes for you, Fenno and Carol, and all of your family, for refuah shleymah—peace, wholeness, and healing of mind, body and spirit.
Michele Yanow '89,
(Soprano 1, Publicity Manager, and Historian)
Hello Peggy, Carol & all:
I've been thinking; as we all have, about the times we have had with Fenno:
I recall, during my first week of work here in 2003, when I received a call from Fenno asking me to lunch at Mory’s. During that inspiring lunch he told me about the wonderful family of which I was about to become a part. Six seasons, and many stories later, I am glad we had that lunch to hear the stories from Fenno himself.
After we shook hands and sat down in the front room at Mory’s, one of the first things that Fenno said to me was, “When at Mory’s, one MUST have the Baker’s soup.” Thus started a friendship full of advice, and I have cherished it all, completely.
In my thoughts and prayers
YGC Administrative Associate
There is gesture - pure Fenno - which I remember so vividly. It could happen any number of times during a given concert or rehearsal...
When our tempo would start to bog down, instead of conducting a steady but faster beat to us, Fenno would just roll his hand forward at this fantastic pace with this slightly exasperated look on his face, as if to say: For God’s sake, go. Trust yourselves as I trust you. Sing!
There was a lot in that little gesture. It speaks of the hard work of shaping 100 voices into a good and sometimes sublime sound, and the confidence he had in a bunch of rank amateurs whose talents truly ran the gamut. But I think it also spoke of a certain zeal for performance and song and life. Fenno was one of the only teachers I had in college with whom I ever just had fun, and he gets all the credit for being kind and accessible and game.
Thanks for that and for so much more Fenno. You and yours are in my prayers tonight.
The Rev. J. Scott Barker - ‘85
Thank you for the wonderful gift of allowing me to be your assistant conductor for a year. Having the opportunity to conduct at Yale and then throughout Germany and Scandinavia was an extraordinary experience, one that I will never forget. Yale was not always a friendly place, and it meant more than I can say to have a home in the chorus. I have continued to sing under many conductors since my time at Yale, and I often find myself thinking back to Fennoisms that I wish they knew ("This is what the composer really meant to do"; "Break your face"; "God
meant it to be a mixed chorus."). Although I am no longer in touch with the many people with whom I sang while I was in the Glee Club, I am so
pleased to have this opportunity to join my voice to the many voices on this website. Together, we make a silent chorus, but one that should still resonate with the joy that you brought to all of us.
With warmest affection -
Thanks for a making a place to send our fond thoughts and our prayers. I couldn’t begin to make a list of the things I owe Fenno, from personal inspiration to the endless hours and pleasures of music making. He was here on my first day of Yale in 1971, and his infectious enthusiasm for singing drew me into the activities I treasured most as an undergraduate, up to and including the Whiffs. When I came back to direct the AYA, 11 years ago, Fenno was there. And within short order he and I combined forces to initiate a new tradition at reunions, Glee Club rehearsals for the alumni and a grand singing festival in Woolsey that continues to draw enormous crowds. It was the highlight of my weekend to coordinate and emcee the show, with Fenno being the featured songmeister for a rousing chorale of alumni performing Glee Club classics, followed by all the reuning Whiff and Whim groups. The crowd ADORED Fenno. He in turn glowed with all his showmanship and reveled in all the friendships he had made over decades of Glee Club singing. We always shared a giant hug at the end, as well as a few tears for time and change. Long may you run, Fenno, and choirs of angels sing you home.
Your life and music have touched us all. Memories for me of you, Fenno, consist (in one word) of joy - unbridled joy, enthusiasm, inspiration, and love, for your students, your colleagues, your family, and for the Yale Glee Club - sharing with us the transcendent power of choral music.
Song, in the history of mankind probably occurred before language developed. We choral directors may intuitively understand this, spending our lives with our loves: our choirs -- devoted to the art of expressing emotion through song, nurturing within them a community of kindred spirits.
It is the projection of emotion that is at the heart of song. And Fenno, there has been no one better than you in tapping our joyful, life-affirming emotions.
Your glorious "triple-forte major chords at the top of everyone's range" spirituals, your rich compositions (HGC sings your exquisite setting of Blake's Little Lamb this year), and your gift for sharing with generations of Yale Singers -- your joy, and your emotional connection of the music with them, inspires a circle of love that enfolds you, and us, for ever.
To Fenno and the Heath Family,
Thirty-seven years ago, the Yale Glee Club marched on stage at the Kennedy Center Opera House and sang an ear-opening concert that convinced me – then a high school sophomore in love with singing – that I belonged at Yale. Three years later, I found myself in that self-same group, making magical music with the incomparable Fenno, and through him, being initiated into the delightful, enriching legacy of choral music at Yale.
How do I thank someone who has given me such bountiful gifts – my inaugural encounters with the B Minor Mass and the Mozart Requiem; haunting and delicious arrangements of the great spirituals; the chance to sing in the Alps and the Andes, in the capitals of Europe and the fields of El Salvador; and, best of all, dozens of friendships formed through the Glee Club? The best thanks is to keep singing, in joy and gratitude for Fenno’s inspiring, infectious example.
May harmony ever surround you, Fenno.
Love to Carol and the Heath Family.
David Dodson, ‘77
As you may recall, I am not a person of few words, and yet I am left nearly speechless (nearly!!) as I think of how to express my deep gratitude to you for all you have given to me and to my generation of Yale singers… But there is one memory that stands out for me – my first concert for Parents Weekend, October 1983. I had joined the Glee Club late, with extreme gratitude after being left off the original selection list, but with extreme trepidation, because I had most likely been left off the list due to my pitiful (read, non-existent) sight-reading ability. I then found out, to my utter shock and humiliation, that the Glee Club sang both mixed and memorized. But Fenno, that was my salvation – I ended up learning to hear the alto line even if I couldn't "see" it in the music (it helped to have Rachel Monfredo Gee, and later Karen Sherman, Liz Miller and the other fabulous altos to buoy me up!). And I had to watch you rather than bury my face in the music, which was a most galvanizing experience, as you managed to conduct with every part of your body (s ee the comments of Deborah Miles Czech), especially your luminous eyes.
That October evening, I faced yet another Glee Club challenge – on stage at Woolsey Hall, I was placed in the front row (and, as I recall, in that horrible black polyester gown!), and I thought, that's it, I'm a goner. But with the billowing sound of the chorus behind me, the altos strong and clear, and nothing (save the piano) between me and your indescribable conducting, channeling our energy and sending it back to us, guiding us and bringing us together, I found myself transported, and I remain transported every time I hear our music, sing it at reunions, or simply recall it, as I am doing right now, in my home in New York City. 'Nuf said. With all my love to you, and to your wonderful family.
Stephanie Golob '87
Even in this dark hour in Motown, the thought of you and your family brings great joy to my heart. While at Yale I was more committed to small group singing, but my senior year with you and the Glee Club was a special treat I will always cherish. Our trip through Latin America was memorable, from the bus ride up to the mountain town of Quezaltenango to the opera house in BA. What a special time. You are in my prayers, and "Until we meet again..."
I am sad that in the years since Yale I did not take the time to say once again how very much you and your music have enriched my life. Listing the ways is like sorting a handful of sand – there are so many grains, I can’t capture them.
Here is some of what you gave me:
Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria
Randall Thompson’s Alleluia
Johannes Brahm’s Requiem
Fenno Heath’s Fern Hill
Some of my best friends and my best memories
A part in the history of the Yale Glee Club, and a tiny voice in your great song of life
“And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means.”
I am a better singer because of you.
I am a better person because of you.
The world is more full of life and music because of you, Fenno.
You are immortal in music, in the lives of all who knew and sang with you, and in my heart. Alleluia.
-Kathryn Haines ‘93
Kathryn L. Haines Technical Editor and Marketing Assistant Golder Associates Inc.
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All I can offer you now is a very gentle "Er Is Een Kindeke," a lot of love and gratitude, and a rousing "Ride The Chariot" to cheer you on your way.
I love you,
Dear Heath Family:
The thing is frequently I will be walking down the street and suddenly one of Fenno’s songs will take me over – General Booth, for example – and I will start humming the tune, then build to a crescendo – words included -- with all the feeling he conjured up in us choristers. Or sometimes it is not one of his compositions but in my musical memory one of his songs nonetheless, because it is he who brought these songs to life – Swing Lo, or Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child – which I remember singing the solo for at his behest although not as vociferously as he desired (I am not sure that was physically possible). These songs – his songs – and the spirit of his musicality sculpted legions of us and remain a deep part of who I am, we are, when we are at our most feeling and striving most joyfully to share our songs and lives.
What joy he brings.
Class of ‘84
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.
Notwithstanding the differences, YGC alums that I encounter from the various decades of Fenno's leadership all share the same bond and similar memories: we made good music, we formed strong friendships and we had wonderful experiences that we can never forget. The common denominator for all of us was your father. What a great run he has had. He will live on in the fond memories of the hundreds he taught and befriended.
Bruce & Nancy Landay
My YGC experience set within me an image of joyful expression. Singing with you around the world in 1965, I experienced a oneness with the music, with your conducting and with the audience – a precious peak experience that I carry in my heart as an example of the reality and power of unity. Every time we stepped on stage with you was a joy. Your exuberance and light were infectious and inspiring. Thank you for this wonderful gift.
Thank you, Peggy, for arranging this blog for all of us to read and contribute to. - a wonderful way for us all to feel connected.
Darwin Gillett - President
What a joy and privilege it was to sing under your direction. So full of life were our rehearsals! I would cherish them and draw energy from them -- the comaraderie, the humor, the music, those wonderful final Fenno chords. How many wonderful concerts! Those trips to the Yale Club in NY for Christmas concerts and watching you conduct the Messiah Sing-in at Lincoln Center. Magical, transformative moments from a beautiful performance of Shenandoah. The War Requiem and Carmina Burana. As I picture the moments I spent with you, the songs that we sang run as a soundtrack through the slideshow of memories. And though you may now be weak and slowed by the illnesses and ailments that you always fought so valiantly, I gain strength from the words that I sang to music that you wrote: "One short sleep past, we wake eternally! . . . . And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!" I wish you an eternity of music buoyed by all the souls and spirits you lifted in life.
With deep gratitude,