A MEMORIAL SERVICE WAS HELD ON SAT. MARCH 28TH, 2009 AT BATTELL CHAPEL, Yale University, at 3:00pm. All were cordially invited. Over 800 in attendance! DVD available through the Yale Glee Club office.

Service details: Tom Murray, University Organist, started the prelude 20 minutes before the 3 p.m. service began. There were performances by The Yale Glee Club, The Yale Alumni Chorus, The Whiffenpoofs of 2009, The SLOT's, and The University Glee Club of New Haven. A magnificent, and humbling, tribute.

Contributions in memory of Fenno may be sent to the
North Congregational Church P.O. Box 307 New Hartford CT 06057.

Condolences may be sent directly to the family (Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, Terry) at pogilvy@comcast.net

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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 pogilvy@comcast.net 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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Laura Stanfield Prichard CC '90

It just started snowing in Boston, so it's time for Fenno's winter music. Our favorite is Fenno "Winter Prayer," which I first encountered at eighteen in a handwritten version on a snowy afternoon in the Glee Club room - Miriam Pelikan (Pittenger) ('89) and Karen Daehnick (Poirier) ('90), sitting on either side of me, remarking that it sounded a little like Britten to them (we'd just sung his "Festival Te Deum" in Battell). It was the first piece of Fenno's in which I could really hear his training with Paul Hindemith (all those fourths!) and feel a sense of repose and serenity in a CT winter (I certainly never felt a sense of response during my own studies!). Now "Winter Prayer" is my favorite of his works, although I'll always remember Tom Porter ('90) singing "Fern Hill" and see Fenno's "whip" gesture during the downbeat rests in the four-spirituals-by-Fenno-Heath (that's the way the Princeton and Harvard Glee Clubs used to announce our second half set).

It's Christmas Eve, so I'm off to conduct Fenno's "The Lamb" at First Parish Arlington, where I was first welcomed by Graham and Liz (Hopkins) Stevens ('90 and '91) and later worked with Jonathan (Markowitz) and Rebecca (Benefiel) Bijur ('01?), who we met singing. My only good memories of Yale are of food and music, and that's a lot, thanks to Maggie Brooks, to the Glee Club, and to Fenno.

Red beans and ricely yours,

Laura Stanfield Prichard CC '90
Central European "Bringing down the Wall" Tour, Co-Manager, '90
Chamber Singers Director, '90
Founding Pitch, Untapped Potential (now called Out of the Blue)
Freshman Chorus Accompanist & Chamber Singers member, '86-87
YGC, Battell, YSM Lab Choruses, Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Calhoun Dramat, YPMB, YAC

231 Bingham Road, Carlisle, MA 01741
978.369.7329  laura@prichard.net

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Under the direction of Sherri A. Matthews, this is the 2004-2005 Godwin High School Madrigals ensemble from Richmond, Virginia singing the epic "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven." Based on the poem by Vachel Lindsay Composed by Fenno Heath

Rehearsal before the memorial service! Alleluia, Randall Thompson

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Alleluia is a piece for unaccompanied SATB chorus by Randall Thompson. Composed over the first five days of July in 1940, it was given its world premiere on July 8 of that year at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood under the direction of G. Wallace Woodworth.

The work was written on a commission from Serge Koussevitzky, director of the Tanglewood Festival. Koussevitzky wanted a "fanfare" for voices to be performed at the opening exercises of the new Berkshire Music Center, and he asked Thompson to contribute such a piece. Instead of the joyous work expected of him, the composer produced a quiet and introspective piece. Thompson was inspired by the war in Europe, and the recent fall of France; given these events, he felt that to write a festive piece would be inappropriate.

The text of the work is simple; it consists of the word "Alleluia" repeated over and over again. The only other word in the text is "Amen", which is used once at the end. The end also divides the choir into seven parts.

Thompson once wrote that the Alleluia is

a very sad piece. The word "Alleluia" has so many possible interpretations. The music in my particular Alleluia cannot be made to sound joyous. It is a slow, sad piece, and...here it is comparable to the Book of Job, where it is written, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The piece has become Thompson's most popular work, and is frequently performed today.

Mother of Men

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pride, joy and song

As a Glee Clubber for 3 years and the co-Manager of the 1977 European Summer Tour, I spent a lot of time with Fenno.  I treasure the memories and will always remember him with great affection.


One moment sticks in my mind, though.  During my senior year the Glee Club’s major performance was J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion.  Fenno had a special way with Bach; at a time when choruses and orchestras around the world were reducing their forces in performances of Baroque music, he seemed to relish showing what he could do with 72 singers in Bach’s masterpieces.


No championship football team ever practiced harder than we did on the St. John Passion.  At first, his insistence on precision, on phrasing, on repeating certain small bits of music over and over again until we had it right, seemed over-the-top, unnecessary.  But Fenno knew better.


One night, maybe 3 weeks before the performance, everything came together in a rehearsal the memory of which still makes my skin tingle.  All those hours of rehearsing, Fenno’s insistence on doing things right, suddenly came together in an extraordinary sound, the likes of which I had never heard.


We would be ready.


To this day, 30+ years later, I am as proud of that performance in Woolsey Hall as of any event in my life.  It was not just good, it was extraordinary.  I have listened to every commercially available recording of the St. John Passion, and I can say that no other chorus matches the sound, the intensity, that Fenno conjured forth.


At times it sounded like a choir of angels; at others it sounded like singers at war.  In one short burst, when Bach’s chorus was  mocking Jesus, we sounded so diabolical that you could easily envision the Biblical scene.


The piece ends on a quiet note.  Many of us were almost in tears because of the emotion we felt, the joy and pride we took in the performance we had just completed.  Fenno lowered his arm, and for a split second there was absolute silence in Woolsey Hall.  And then pandemonium.


Although I have done many things since, I do not believe I have ever felt quite as proud, quite as fulfilled, as I did standing on the stage in Woolsey Hall that night.  For that pride and sense of fulfillment, for those wonderful memories, I thank you, Fenno, and I give thanks that I had the opportunity to know you.


And now, Fenno, please remember one thing:  Beethoven is sensitive about being told he is off-key.



Craig Alan Wilson ‘78



Sunday, July 26, 2009


Just writing to let you all know that the Heath children are thrilled to report that our mom, CAROL, as you all know (!), is spending a wonderful summer at her summer home in New Hampshire....the place where generations of her family have lived long, happy lives, farming and making music.....She has been picking four leafed clovers galore (literally!), making catnip toys galore (for sale in Peggy's Farmer's Market tent....), spending lots of time with her children, and also in Peggy's pick your own flower garden (www.songgardenflowerfarm.blogspot.com), and enjoying long, leisurely days in the countryside. She has internet there, high on a hillside, and in the woods, so you can write to her at carol.heath@wcres.org We are all still humbled by the outpouring of love for our father. Thank you one and all for the kind words in the last several months. They have buoyed us through the turbulant times and now the seas have calmed and the light is starting to shine again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Steven J. White, '81 Manager, 1981 Glee Club

Dear friends,

There is only one thing I truly regret about the otherwise very positive decision I made after leaving Yale to become Sabbath-observant. It has become very difficult to stay in touch with the YGCA and the YAC, because so much of the alumnus activity occurs (understandably) on Saturdays. So those who know me from Yale haven't seen me much, I haven't made many Singing Dinners, and I just couldn't manage to get to New Haven for the memorial service. But no one should mistake that for not caring, and I'd like to share just a few thoughts about Fenno with everyone.

To start, Fenno played the single most important role in making music important in my life. I'm sure that's not a novel idea, but since everyone's story is different, I'll share mine. When I came to Yale, I was a decently experienced choral singer, and was a fairly talented cantor (prayer leader) for a teenager. Still, I don't know that I was really a musician, and I do know that I had fairly little contact with the broad canon of choral music, so much of it Christian in orientation. (OK, I could teach the pronunciation of Chichester Psalms. There are compensations.) Under Fenno's tutelage, I became a musician, a singer, and comfortable with music from a broad range of cultures, languages and traditions.

Fenno really took me under his wing. He gave me a semester of tutorial in choral conducting – with me an engineering major! – and using Brahms' Requiem as a launch pad taught me a great deal about what makes choral music – and any other music – really work. He filled in the details (around so much already learned in rehearsals) about how to get a group of singers to do what you want. Most important, he taught me, and all of us, how to work hard at what you want, but also how to live life to the fullest, and to love what you do with your life.

I share many of the memories that others have shared. One I didn't see was about Fenno's eating habits (at least in the 1980s): I never met someone who salted his prime rib before eating it until I saw Fenno do that at Mory's at the officer dinner in the fall of 1980. But to me, that was part and parcel of Fenno – a man who, as conventional and traditional as he was sometimes, marched to the beat of his own drummer. It was hard not to be bound up in that enthusiasm.

I haven't done much choral singing lately, and the posts that I have read about the joy of participating is making me reconsider doing some more this fall. My main musical contributions these days is as a lay cantor in synagogue. Most of my fellow congregants consider me fairly capable at that, and while Fenno obviously didn't teach me the prayers and melodies, he played a part in this as well. I learned from
Fenno how to combine my musicianship with my religious service in a way that did not compromise the integrity of either one, but rather allowed them to work synergistically together. That is a gift which, in my view, is truly priceless.

Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, Terry and families: I don't pretend to miss your husband, father and grandfather as much as you do. But he had an enormous influence on me and many, many others, and we miss him, too.

May Fenno's memory be for blessing, and may his soul be bound in eternal life.

Yours in friendship,
Steven J. White, '81
Manager, 1981 Glee

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mark Fittipaldi, ' 72

On Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 12:09 PM, Mark Fittipaldi

Dear Fenno: My thoughts are with you, Carol and your whole family. I hope you realize that during your time in this world you truly made a difference, not only through the music that you so brilliantly conducted and composed, but also by enabling the many true and lasting friendships that came about between and among the members of the Yale Glee Club over which you presided for so many wonderful years. Thank you for your friendship as well, and for your leadership and inspiration, which I can assure you will not be forgotten as long as any of us who were fortunate enough to know and sing with you are around.


Mark Fittipaldi, ' 72

Friday, February 6, 2009

The World Wide Web is amazing. Just found this post from 'alto artist' on HER blog. Incredible reading about her memories of Fenno at Yale

Sunday, December 07, 2008
758. "Let the short-lived hours speed, running smoothely, quickly by."
My 21st birthday, many years ago, was a strange day. I was a junior at Yale, and the entire East Coast had just suffered a freak early-April blizzard. I remember trudging through piles of snow in the morning to get to my my painting studio, and then clumsily tipping over a jar of turpentine on the bench where I sat in front of my canvas. I was wearing layers and layers of clothing (the studio, maybe to make us feel more like real starving artists, wasn't heated), so barely noticed at first. But turpentine is evil. It seeped through all the fabric and suddenly, an hour later, the skin on my left leg was in agonizing pain. I left the studio and made it back across town in blinding snow to my dorm, where I stood under a shower for many minutes in hopes that cool water would ease my distress. It didn't. I then hiked over to the undergrad health services building, where I joined a long line of sniffling students with hacking coughs. I gave up after an hour and instead headed to a local pharmacy, where I bought every kind of aloe and salve I could find, slathered it on my thigh, and went back to my room for a fitful nap.

That evening, leg wrapped in a bandage, I limped over to the Yale Glee Club office where 80 people sang "Happy Birthday" and then voted me in as their next manager. I heard their voices and forgot all the pain. (And my leg ended up being just fine.) Thus began a year, culminating in a tour of Europe with the group, my first time overseas, that would teach me how to start being an adult--and that music was as necessary as breathing to live life fully.

I remembered this moment in the wake of great sadness: Fenno F. Heath, Jr., conductor of the Glee Club during my tenure, and anyone else's who was lucky to be a member between the years of 1953 and 1992, passed away peacefully last Friday at 6:12 pm at the age of 81. I never before realized how much his philosophy was similar to that of the rabbis at my synagogue: give music freely, and it will repair the world. So much of my spiritual life--chanting Torah, helping lead services--as well as my work life, has its origin in what I learned from Fenno: work hard and be good at what you do. And do it with your whole heart. I'm pretty sure the voice I often hear in my head when chanting ("Don't go flat!") is his.

Forty years' worth of Glee Club members have been sharing our memories, and I added a few of my own:

I loved how Fenno would begin "'Neath the Elms." Just a little flick of the wrist in our direction--"Go!" As if to say: I gave you all the tools, and now it's your job. Don't worry, I'll help. But you lucky people get to do most of it.

Singing, since Yale, has remained my biggest hobby--in 25 years I've never been without an opportunity to raise my voice in the company of others, and owe much of this addiction to my Glee Club experience. I've had some terrific conductors, but can honestly say that none came close to Fenno for the passion and drive to excellence he managed to instill in us all, always with good humor and the reminder that this was, above all, fun. From Fenno I learned that a well-lived life must have two often-overlapping parts: singing, and everything else.

I spent an hour last Friday afternoon reading the beautiful words everyone has shared and then, as usual, went to Friday evening services at my synagogue. I belong to a congregation where prayer is always in the form of music--they subscribe completely to Fenno's exhortation that there's too much talking going on. But as I walked in, a little after 6:00 pm, my heart was heavy with the loss I knew this world would soon bear, and I wondered how I could sing of the joy that the Sabbath brings. Then I heard everyone's voices in harmony around me, and realized that if I learned one thing from Fenno it was that when given the chance to sing, take it. The outcome would always be good and healing. I bet Fenno was standing in front of the heavenly choir at that very moment and telling them the same thing.

Posted by alto artist at 12:54 PM
Labels: death, Judaism, music, visiting old places


Regina Clare Jane said...

aa, this was a beautiful tribute to your conductor, Mr. Heath- thank you. It was nice hearing a little of your history, too. :)

And... I am sorry for your loss, my friend...
8:04 PM
alto artist said...

Thank you so very much. It's amazing how one person can have such an effect on one's life--and how we often don't fully understand until years later.


-Noah Lawrence SY '09 Posted by YALE GLEE CLUB BLOG (yalegleeclub.blogspot.com)

Monday, December 8, 2008
In memory of Fenno Heath, 1926-2008
Fenno Heath, legendary conductor of the Yale Glee Club from 1953-1992, passed away on December 5. His family has set up a website with many more wonderful stories and memories of him.

On hearing the sad news of Fenno’s passing, I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts, tell a couple of stories of Fenno, and hopefully honor him a little bit, as best as anyone can. For new Glee Clubbers: Fenno Heath was our conductor from the 1950s through the 1990s. If any one person could embody the Yale Glee Club, Fenno would be he. He made the courageous leap to bring women into the group; he brought the group on numerous tours abroad, including to China (I believe the group's first China tour ever); he arranged and even composed for the group extensively (hence the Fenno Heath Award for new Yale songs); and most importantly, he did it all with a spirit of genuine, hardy big-heartedness.

I can't claim to have any Glee Club memories from before 2005, but in my time in the Glee Club, we did get the lucky chance to sing under Fenno's baton twice. The first time was my sophomore year, when Fenno came to hear a rehearsal for the Commencement concert, and, at the end, conduct us in "'Neath the Elms." He had a special motion for asking more from the basses: he put his left hand down low, and mimed a very, very strong grip. Later, this motion was jokingly known in the bass and tenor sections as the "more guts, men!" motion; but in all seriousness, what Fenno showed us that day is that if you do something, you should take it seriously, and do it with fortitude, and courage – that fun, joy and togetherness are to be found not in spite of those qualities, but because of them.

The other time we sung under Fenno was my freshman year, at the 145th anniversary alumni reunion (these reunions come once every five years, and they're amazing; the 150th is in 2010-11). We had a concert with the pre-1969 men's alumni chorus, followed by the post-1969 mixed alumni chorus, and then the current Glee Club, in Woolsey Hall. At the very end, all the groups sang a set of songs together, with Fenno conducting: the current Glee Club on stage, and all the alumni in the first floor seats, filling nearly to the back of Woolsey.

Our first song was "We Meet Again Tonight, Friends" -- which, prior to 1969, had been called, "We Meet Again Tonight, Boys." It was Fenno who originally took a stand and changed the name of the song, knowing that making all different kinds of people (in this case, women in particular) at home in the Glee Club would be impossible if any traces of the old patriarchy remained. Just so, when Fenno conducted us my freshman year, he showed that same blend of courage and kindness. Before he raised his baton, he smiled, and said, "Now, remember ... friends." We all laughed, and he laughed too – and then we launched into singing; and we truly were friends, united by mirth, by song, and by the wisdom of Fenno Heath.

We all can continue to honor Fenno by infusing our singing -- and every action of our lives -- with these values. Every concert, and every small act we do, will be a chance to keep Fenno's good character alive, and to make him proud.

-Noah Lawrence SY '09

Mini Movie Time!

ooooooooo, so beautiful and just leaves you hanging.......his triple ppps were.....well, there are no words to describe.

Mini Movies!!! From Rita Helfand. Thank you, Rita!

Dad adored and looked forward to his YAC experience each year during his retirement from the YGC. All of the Heaths enjoyed attending, including various grandchildren.
Long Live the YGC AND the YAC!

Fenno at Milton Academy with YAC '03

Just sent to us by Rita Helfand!!!
Wonderful mini video of Fenno conducting the YAC at Milton Academy circa 2003ish.
oooooooooo it leaves you HANGING, just WISHING for more! Thank you so much, Rita!

David Barnett '78



You have always been my most favorite choral conductor, the perfect blend of person, musician and teacher, who always welcomed every singer of any level of ability as a friend. I originally came from the instrumental side of the music world, and when I took your choral conducting class you used to call me the 'band director' until I took your teachings to heart. The Glee Club sound has inspired some of my own work. I only sang in the Glee Club in my Senior year, but the ever expanding Glee Club world (Associates, YAC, etc.) has grown to be the main way I connect to Yale. It has truly been a pleasure.

David Barnett '78

Susan (Louise) Williams '86

Date: Thursday, December 4, 2008, 9:29 PM

Dear Fenno and family,

I have just been reading the postings on the blog and am overwhelmed. Fenno was
such a big part of so many of our lives at Yale, and I just can't imagine
the place without him. I am so grateful for the day I got up the courage to go
put my name on the audition list at Hendrie Hall - and that I was blessed with
such a common name. I might not have made the Glee Club had I not been the
third Susan Williams to try out. My time in the Glee Club is one of my fondest
memories of Yale. Fenno, you were a mentor and a friend and I will miss you. And
yes, we are all sorry about the time a group of us talked our way into some
museum in some Midwestern town by promising to sing in front of the I-max screen
and you told us we should not advertise ourselves as the Yale Glee Club unless
all of us were there. Peace and love.

Susan (Louise) Williams '86

Lewis Girdler, '61

Fri, 5 Dec 2008

Composer, conductor, teacher (with the greatest of teacher's gifts, as others have noted, the ability to know every one of us as individuals and recall us decades later without the slightest hesitation), colleague, friend, husband and father-- there's also Fenno the arranger. At a Whiff reunion some years back, three alums took the stage to announce that in the car on the way, they had found that Fenno's arrangement of "September Song" worked even with one part missing. They proceeded to knock us all out by showing how very true that was. By way of explanation, their spokesman observed, "Well, it's Fenno". No more needed to be said.
Now the heavenly choirs are pulling up their socks, clearing their throats, and getting ready to sing as they've never sung before. Fenno and family, I hope you are feeling the love and the gratitude just pouring in.

Lewis Girdler, '61

Elizabeth Michaud Class of 1977


I'm so saddened to hear this news. Many of my happiest memories of Yale are of rehearsing and singing in the Glee Club under Fenno. He set high musical standards and always did it with great charm, warmth, and humor. He brought out our best, gave us wonderful musical experiences, and made everyone in the Glee Club feel both welcomed and essential. Everyone who sang under Fenno will miss him very much. My thoughts are with Fenno, Carol, and their family as shepherd Fenno toward his next great journey.

Elizabeth Michaud
Class of 1977

Lisa K. Catapano-Friedman '73


It is unimaginable to me that I will not have another opportunity to tease Fenno by counting the number of Fenno's citations of Robert Shaw during a rehearsal. I think the greatest number of citations was somewhere around 20. Fenno is a fixture of choral singing for me--the person who made choral singing an important, permanent piece of my life. My life would have been very different---and much less rich---without him.

Lisa K. Catapano-Friedman '73

Thursday, February 5, 2009

From Bill Holding. Sent to us back on Dec. 3rd. We read this letter to Fenno, Bill.

Dear Fenno,

Judy and I are sitting here in the sunshine and thinking about the
inestimable value and significance of your life; what you have given
all of us in your orbit in appreciating and making music that is
distinctly “Fenno” – challenging, sophisticated and cutting-edge; and so beautiful. You’ve given it to us, multiplied exponentially as we take it with enthusiasm to the various places of our lives.

I’ll always remember the boost you gave me in conducting “Unity” in
Milton and later lowering the boom on “Freedom” until I patched it up into more-or-less singable shape; or responding to a new piece with “That’s unfortunate – sounds like Michel Legrand.” (for me, a towering compliment!)

We’ve just completed a recording of four pieces and hoped you’d be the first to hear it outside the participants. I’ve unabashedly used the piquant sevenths and ninths learned from the master.

With healing love to you and your wonderful family,


From: Warren Rothman posted back on Dec. 5th. We read this letter to Fenno, Warren.

"Fenno. The definition…of a great conductor, a great teacher, and a great man, kind and good."

Dear Fenno,

You, Carol, and your loving family are in the hearts of all who were blessed to know you and to sing under your direction.

Filled with love and joy for music, you imparted these qualities to us. Unfailingly gracious, generous, and noble in the face of the challenges involved, you inspired us to reach for some transcendent goal that we did not know we could reach until we had done it.

Your masterpieces of composition, so many arrangements of great insight and profound respect for the material at hand---singing these with you made the experience all the more personal. Your ingenious conducting technique - an elegant ballet that swept delighted choristers up and into the many sound worlds that you created, filled with magic and crackling with electrical sparks.

Oh, Fenno! To once again be singing with you, to feel the entire chorus rising to meet the demands of your gestures and directions. To feel once again the surging power of those FFF sections, and the instant swoops to PPP, all riding as it were on the wings of song. But really on the wings of your technique and musical knowledge. And your brilliant wit.

What a gift, dearest Fenno, what a gift you have been to all who know you.

With deepest love and admiration,

Warren H Rothman, ‘65

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SLOTs gather before Fenno's Memorial Service for His Family and the Residents of Whitney Center on Jan. 24th

SLOT sang the Whiffenpoof song and Steal Away at Dad's service and it was incredibly touching for all................A group of students from the current year's Yale Glee Club sang, under Jeff's beautiful direction, and between these two groups, there was not a dry eye in the Heath family. Thank you.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

From Dwight Townsend: Thurs., Dec. 11, 2008

We have lost a great one, haven't we? Although he was small in stature, in every other way a man can be "measured", he was a giant: in talent; in the respect - even awe, all of us who sang under his precise, strict and almost minimalist direction had for him; in the reputation he so richly deserved as a composer and choral arranger not only at Yale but throughout the world of music; and in the friendships he maintained with his gentleman (and woman) songsters following their graduation.

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!!!

From Dwight Townsend: Tues., Dec. 02, 2008 to Carol Heath.

I have just been forwarded an e-mail from Linus Travers commenting on the awful news about Fenno. He was a great part of my Yale experience: a non pariel musician and leader who was admired by all. Being a Whiff was an honor, but nothing could compare to being a part of the glee club doing one of his magnificent arrangements. I can still feel the frisson, as if it was yesterday, singing "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight". My heart goes out to both of you. with much affection and warm memories. Froggy dwight@redfrog.biz

Friday, January 23, 2009

Remembering My Favorite Conductor

I was a member of the YGC for a year during my sophomore year. But my contact with Mr. Heath extended beyond that time. I often attended events where the YGC sang a special number and Mr. Heath conducted the Club. Also I often ran into him at the Battell Chapel Sunday services. It seemed he usually attended Sunday services alone almost every Sunday.

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

Seoul, Korea

Yale Class of 84

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fenno and Carol visiting Quinby, one of their granddaughters, at Bard.

He sure looked great in hot pink!
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

From The Heaths

I am writing to you all with love and gratitude from the entire
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

The Privilege

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.


Dick Moser

Y ‘63

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From John Kenneth Adams

Dear Heath Family,

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


Dear Heath family,
I have often discussed my bright college years with my family and friends. When asked what I most cherish about Yale, two things always come first to mind: the wonderful people and the music.
As a stressed out student who had arrived at Yale, academically unprepared, and still reeling from a traumatic death in my family, I found solace in singing. Fenno did not accept me as a freshman, because I couldn't read music. Instead, he guided me into a course where I learned to do so, and assisted me in finding a voice teacher. When I did get in, the Glee Club was a shining highlight of my time at Yale. Fenno had more of an influence on me than any other adult with whom I had contact in my four years in New Haven. Thirty years later, I can't recall the names of 90% of my professors, or even name all of the classes I took, but when the Glee Club performed the Randall Thompson Alleluia in Seattle earlier this month and invited all of the alums to perform it with them, I was able to recall most of my part without the benefit of a rehearsal. The memory of standing in that Hendrie Hall rehearsal room with Mark Dollhopf booming in my right ear, is still enough to bring a smile to my face.
Fenno's legacy, of course, includes his choral arrangements and musical accomplishments. He took a generation of kids with varying amounts of talent and taught us to create beautiful music. He showed us that we could create something far beyond our expectations. But for me, the most memorable thing about Fenno was the way he shared the joy of music with all of us.  I feel honored to have known him.
Lenore McGown Defliese '77

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From John Stewart

Dear Carol,
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,


John Stewart
Director of Vocal Activities
Department of Music
Washington University
St. Louis MO

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fenno-isms from Litchfield County Choral Union rehearsals

"In this group I'm  hearing pockets of no sound."
"That sounded like amateur night in Dixie."
--- O`Neil Patricia
--- EarthLink: The #1 provider of the Real Internet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

From David (& True) Tang Charlotte, NC

Carol -

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
Charlotte, NC

From Steve "The Whistler" Herbst, UGC '78, Penn '67


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

From Mitchell Hammond

Dear Heath family,

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.

Mitchell Hammond


Dear Carol and Heath Family,

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,


From Tenney Walsh 1/4/09

dear carol,
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