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If anyone knows about music at Yale, it is Fenno Heath ’50 MUS ’52.

As an undergraduate, Heath was a member of the Spizzwinks, the Yale Glee Club, and the Whiffenpoofs. After graduation, Heath stayed at Yale to direct the Glee Club until 1992. But retirement has not signaled an end to all Heath’s ties to music at Yale. For the past 11 years, he has served as the chairman of Friends of Music at Yale, an organization devoted to supporting undergraduate music.

“Music at Yale is a big deal,” he said. “I really never have left [Yale].”

Founded in the 1930s as a means of buying some original boxed manuscripts, Friends of Music at Yale continues to help Yale undergraduate soloists, chamber musicians, and vocalists foster their musical talent by funding an annual competition and a recital featuring the contest winners. The organization has also contributed about $30,000 a year to the Department of Music, and approximately $2,500 to $3,500 per year to the Yale Symphony and the Bach Society, Heath said.

Prior to this year, there had only been one winner for the annual competition and, accordingly, one recital, Heath said. But he said the rich scope of talent in the area of classical music performance has prompted the organization to sponsor two winners and two recitals.

“I think giving the students the chance to perform as soloists is the major contribution [of the organization],” Heath said. “It’s one very visible way to give a recital.”

Carole Morgan, a member of the Friends of Music board and a professor of Chamber Music at Yale, said competition participants are very intense about their music. But she noted that the majority of these students either take a second major in music or are not music majors at all. Morgan said news of the competition is spreading.

“It’s very hard to do a recital on your own,” Morgan said. “[With this competition,] all they have to do is walk out on the stage. They don’t have to do publicity, the haul, or any of the extraneous.”

This year’s winners were Melody Chan and Becky Lu, who will perform on February 16, and Andrea Lee, Laura Esnaola, and Becky Lu, who will perform on March 2.

Melody Chan, a violinist, said being able to communicate with others through music is part of the fun of performing.

“One thing that’s really fun about doing recitals at Yale is to get your friends to come who aren’t necessarily classical music people,” Chan said. “[The audience] shouldn’t necessarily have to be well-versed in classical music.”

Becky Lu will accompany Chan on piano at the first recital, as well as Laura Esnaola and Andrea Lee in the Anbela Trio at the second. Lu said one of her favorite parts of practicing for the recital has been getting the chance to learn from the other musicians.

“We wanted to play together,” Lee said. “We thought the competition would be a good opportunity.”

But the two upcoming recitals will not mark the end of their collaboration for these performers.

“We want to continue beyond the recital,” Lee said. “We’ve been auditioning for summer festivals.”

Promoting such devotion to music and performance is what Friends of Music at Yale said the group seeks to accomplish.

“[Music is] a wonderful activity,” Heath said. “That’s why the Friends [of Music at Yale] is so important.”
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