Jennifer Heglin Donor Profile
by Ian Wisekal
If you have ever attended a Lamont concert, you are likely already familiar with Jennifer Heglin. You may have seen her smiling in her usual seat, overlooking the stage; you might remember her taking photographs; you may have heard her lovely English lilt as she congratulates musicians. In fact, Heglin’s involvement with Lamont is so deep that you might have noticed her at any given recital, concert or opera performance since before Lamont moved into its former home, in the Park Hill neighborhood, in 1986.
Heglin, originally from the east of England, was not always an avid concertgoer. When she was studying at a French secretarial school in London, it was a Swiss roommate who started dragging Heglin along to concerts. “She said, ‘This girl needs a bit of culture,’” Heglin remembered. When she emigrated to Canada, living first in Toronto, Heglin took advantage of the symphony’s free Sunday concerts and discovered the Toll Brothers Saturday broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. “That’s what turned me into an opera nut,” Heglin joked. “I haven’t missed one of those broadcasts in 60 years!”
In 1978, Jennifer married Clifford Heglin and relocated to Denver. By then a devotee of the arts, she recalled, “It was the year Boettcher [Concert Hall] opened.” She quickly joined several fundraising guilds, including those for the Colorado Symphony, Central City Opera and Denver Lyric Opera, and joined the Lamont Society – then called Lamont Music Associates – when the school moved into the Houston Fine Arts Center in Park Hill, now the site of Denver School of the Arts.
Heglin enjoyed getting to know many Lamont students, including Frank Toth, who died tragically young from pancreatic cancer. A gift in his name, the Frank Toth Memorial Award, has been funded by Heglin every year since then. She and her late husband, Cliff, became friends with former Lamont Director Joseph Docksey, and they donated to the Newman and All-Steinway funds during the construction of the Newman Center, which Docksey championed. Heglin was president of the Lamont Society when the building opened its doors in 2002.
In recent years, Heglin has funded many honors presented at the Lamont Awards Convocation each June: prizes for the winners of the Solo Honors and Honors Chamber Competitions, the outstanding student in composition, and the outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in academics, classical and jazz performance. Lamont now has an endowed scholarship named for Clifford Heglin, and Jennifer has made a matched bequest for a second one.
The feeling of loyalty to Lamont is strong in Heglin. “When I attend performances there,” she said, “they always seem so special. I know the people, and I’ve known them for a long time.” When Hao Jiang Tian, the recipient of Lamont’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award, began winning acclaim in the opera world, Heglin followed him across the U.S. and beyond, even flying to Nice to attend his European debut. She added, “I look on Lamont as my adopted family.”
Being such an active member of the Denver arts scene, one might wonder what interests Heglin outside the concert hall. When she is not supporting members of the music community, she dotes on a living community closer to home: her gardens. A lifelong enthusiast, Heglin began at age six by rescuing the violets that popped up in her family’s vegetable garden. Heglin described her current setup: “I’ve got two big balconies for flowers, two flower beds in front of the condo, a community garden where I grow flowers for cutting…and tomatoes.” She paused, letting the long, English “ah” vowel sink in. “To-MAY-toes, I should say.”
The next time you attend a Lamont concert, look out for Jennifer Heglin. Chances are excellent that, whatever the circumstances may be, whatever the format may be, she will be there, smiling, overlooking the stage.