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 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
Saturday, January 31, 2009
The worst thing about growing old is not the feelings of pain or discomfort all of us experience every morning somewhere. Nor is the realization that we somehow have not realized our full potential as a father, a husband, a friend, or as a participant in our chosen profession. It is the awful truth that often we have not "tilled the fields of friendship" and have come to realize too late that what would have been extraordinary and fulfilling times of common experience and dialogue can never be recaptured.
While I caught glimpses of Fenno and had short conversations with him at alumnae functions and at his "retirement party", the occasion I most remember that puts a smile on my face and in my heart was the dinner party several years ago at fellow Whiff's (Ash Gulliver) lovely Connecticut home with Bill and Judy Holding and Fenno and Carol in attendance. After a fine meal, we spent perhaps three hours just talking about our shared adventures at Yale midst the singing of many of "the old songs" (Judy and Carol substituting as first tenors). Fenno, as usual, looked at least twenty years younger than his biological age although we were all aware that he had just gone through some tough times health-wise. I kept in touch via e-mails with Carol after that wonderful night (apparently Fenno had little use for computers), but as the years passed, the correspondence just faded away. I so regret my inattention to that "untilled field". Now it is too late to make amends, but it will never be too late to exclaim to all that my choral director, my traveling companion on all those Yale Glee Club trips, and ultimately, my friend, Fenno Heath, was, indeed , a true giant!!!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Several years ago, the YGC came to Seoul, Korea on a concert tour and I attended the concert - to find that there was a new conductor. So after the concert I approached him and asked about Mr. Heath, to which he replied that Mr. Heath had retired, to my chagrin.
I will miss Mr. Heath's enthusiastic conducting style and, especially "I'm gonna ride the chariot in the morning, Lord."
God bless you all.
Rev. Ted Kim
Good News Community Church
Yale Class of 84
Thursday, January 22, 2009
And they sure look happy. It's fun getting pictures of Mom and Dad
from grandchildren and friends these days.
Pics I've never seen before. Quinby, I LOVE this one! Thanks for
sending it! ~Aunt Peggy
Heath family. Thank you for sending your stories to this blog. We
read every letter and we feel humbled and grateful to you for your
taking part in this blog. We visit the blog often, as it helps us to
feel connected to our Dad and grandfather through YOU and your
incredible stories and outpourings of emotion. Thank you so very
much. We are all feeling many swirling emotions tonight ..... it is a
huge loss ...There is an emptiness that surrounds us all........but
your words comfort us, and our mother, no end. Dad, "Poppy", Fenno
would be so humbled. I know he would be so humbled by your letters.
Please continue to write, it you feel so moved, as we find a great
refuge in this blog and we will surely read your letters in a timely
Peggy Heath Ogilvy,
UVM '80 (but Dad let me sing in the YGC of 1980 when I did my
independent study senior year in New Haven! )
Fun Fact: Dad let all four of his children be in the YGC, so we know
exactly what a Fenno Heath rehearsal was like!
Monday, January 19, 2009
I had the great privilege of singing for Fenno for three years, 1960 – 1963, in the YGC. Yes, singing FOR him. As much as singing under his direction pleased, satisfied and gratified me, it was for him that I sang and it was to please him that I worked at it as I did.
Further, it was THROUGH him that I sang. When I sang for him, I always had the feeling that my voice and those of the men singing with me went THROUGH Fenno and that it was he who molded, shaped, modified the sound before it went beyond him to the audience. He played the glee club instrument as much as he directed us. I have sung under the direction of great choral directors, but none was the equal of Fenno Heath.
I learned of Fenno’s death from the program for the YGC’s recent holiday tour. As moving as their music was, it was not their voices that moved me to tears during that performance. It was the loss of a man who was important in my life in ways that I may never understand. Heaven’s chorus will forever sound better.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Just recently I thought about Fenno, and today the Yale Alumni Magazine informs he passed away in December. I came to Yale by a rather circuitous route as a music undergraduate in 1956. Actually I have already finished college at the University of Kansas City, but Yale said I needed alot more music courses, so it took three years to get a Masters in piano performance. I needed money so I jumped at the chance to audition as accompanist for the Yale Alumni Glee Club, one of Fenno's many groups. I played Chopin brilliantly, but I sight read rather poorly. I well remember when a page was late being turned, and Fenno said.."you should have known what's coming!!". Another student got the job. A few weeks later he jumped ship, and Fenno said the job was mine. So I played for them for three years, and learned alot about working with community people from New Haven. When the Spring Concert came up, Fenno said he had a really difficult accompaniment for me...."Miranda" by Richard Hageman. I had actually played it for soprano soloists back in KC, so I felt confident. I did work on it like a dog, and at the first rehearsal the choir applauded. The next season I played for a fine soprano named Joan Brainard on the annual Spring Recital at Woolsey Hall. Fenno was impressed and offered me a solo on the next concert. So from a shaky start I made alot of progress with Fenno. I saw him over the years and he always remembered me, and always mentioned "Miranda". He was always a gentleman, with alot of patience. I remember him with great affection and respect.
John Kenneth Adams
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
University of South Carolina
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The older I got and get, the more I appreciate Fenno, especially after I started doing it myself. He had not only the musical gifts of urging a group to sing musically, beyond issues of intonation and ensemble and into wonderful dynamics, articulation and shaping of phrase, but he had the charm and the steel to inspire and compel us to do it! And I remain so influenced by his high standards of voicings and harmony in my own writing. He said to me once after the Whiffs of ?? beautifully sang his arrangement of "Berkeley Square" - "and it's easy!", which it wasn't, entirely, it just worked so well....
And I will always be grateful when as a prelude to my arrival here, he invited me to direct the YGC European tour of 1990, which prepared me better than anything else could for returning to choral music after an absence of 25 years spent singing.
The spring concert of the Washington University Concert Choir (on April 17, plug....) will be dedicated to Fenno. We'll do "The Greatest of these is Love", one of my favorites, and "Lonesome Valley" and one other.
Fondly and faithfully,
Director of Vocal Activities
Department of Music
St. Louis MO
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Although I carry him with me every day and with every note, I will see the world a little bit differently, now that it is without him.
He was, perhaps more than any other, my musical father, brother and friend.
I will always treasure your presence at our wedding and his music.
Know that my thoughts and prayers turn to you often and that both I and mine are with you as you put on the mantle of his absence.
David (& True) Tang
It was a great pleasure to receive autographed sheet music of and to perform "Fern Hill" and/or the debut of "Poem In October" for Fenno. You may not be aware but Bruce Montgomery of Penn passed away in June much to the great dismay of all Penn Glee Club alumni -- so I can well appreciate how Yalies are feeling now. In any event, I just wanted to extend my condolences and share my sentiments.
Steve "The Whistler" Herbst, UGC '78, Penn '67
Please accept my condolences for the passing of a wonderful family member
and friend. Thank you too for sponsoring a way for us to reflect on
Fenno's contribution to so many families of blood, song, and spirit.
I shared some of the moments that other posters have recounted. As class
of '90 I remember the commissioning of Fenno's portrait and the picture of
it with three "back row altos" (who were every bit the menace Karen
Sherman implied). Fenno knew how to draw the best from us with his unique
brand of coaxing, wheedling, and faux-berating. I say "faux" because it
seemed in rehearsal, as passionate as he was, Fenno was incapable of
really getting angry, no matter what slings and arrows he faced: sopranos
with flying knitting needles; basses blundering headlong into the start of
"Chariot;" tenors wandering off key into outer space or, in my case,
bleating out the yodel; altos muttering in the back row. This was
especially true on Sunday mornings when the "choir for hire" stumbled into
Battell Chapel (or BATTell, as Fenno pronounced it), bleary-eyed, looking
miserable and sounding even worse. He would let us know all at once that
we were a sorry lot and that he cared about us immensely. And then he
would dust us off and propel us forward to musical offerings such as "A
Winter Prayer," and Randall Thompson's incomparable "Alleluia."
I must also say that Fenno could not have been Fenno without Georgia
Whitney, in her office perch at the back of Hendrie 201, or Carol, "Mrs.
Fenno," in her perch in the front row of the first balcony. Both of you
were so much more than that--thank you. Fenno was a blessing and his music
and memory will remain so.
I never served in the Glee Club under Fenno; Barty was our leader when I was there. But in the early fifties I found myself taking the long walk from Elm Street to Freshman Commons with Sam Carter (I've decided it was Sam Carter, not Sam Babbitt). I asked him, "How is Fenno filling the shoes of The Master?" Matter-of-factly and without hesitation he replied, "Oh, he's better." I know you've heard this before, but this is for the record. (Nevertheless, I treasure my time under Barty.)
Last time the SLOTs sang at Essex Meadows, I accepted the pleasant task of hawking our CD, ultimately selling twelve, which Kem thought was pretty good. It seemed to be going rather quietly until I posted an ad in the elevators, after which it picked up.
With great affection and admiration,
BOB (MISSING) LINK
i wanted to express my heartfelt condolences on Fenno's passing!
I first met Fenno in 1972 or thereabouts when I was 9 and was picked to sing in a children's choir to sing the Saint Matthew Passion with the Yale Glee Club and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra..I was attending St,Thomas Day School in New Haven at the time....I rehearsed at Hendrie Hall with the glee club and it was a formative experience for me as a child singing with Yalies under Fenno's wonderful direction.....it was with great pride and nerves that I auditionned several years later for Fenno my Freshman year at yale to join the Freshman chorus and then the Glee Club and was grateful to be chosen......I was always inspired by Fenno's enthusiasm and energetic direction....he was always in the moment...i particularly enjoyed singing his song cycle "Fern Hill "set to the poems of Dylan Thomas: "now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs"...that music was haunting and beautiful and daring! Even 25 years later I still remember how moved I was when singing those pieces...all my best to you and your family...I don't think Terry would remember me but I attended Hammonassett school my Freshman year when he was a sophomore....all the best,,,
tenney walsh..taos, new mexico