You may have seen him sitting on the organ bench one Sunday morning while Kathy Crosier was gone. Finding himself as the organist for a Sunday service was certainly nothing unusual for Michael Lippert.
What is a bit unique is how he arrived at the Lutheran Church on Punahou Street starting from upstate New York. Michael, who is the choral conductor at Punahou School for grades 9 through 12, did not always have a musical career in his sights. This was so even though he started playing on the keyboard when he was about 10 years old, progressing from piano to organ in three or four years and then playing the organ for Mass in his home Roman Catholic parish near Ithaca. His organ playing continued to expand, playing up to 5 Masses a weekend and later playing organ for Methodist and UCC congregations.
Did he then go to a conservatory, a music school? Well, not right away. A program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh attracted him. He earned a dual bachelor’s degree in social and decision sciences and creative writing, involving behavioral disciplines. His foray into that field was less than satisfying.
It was then that he remembered his musical past and the fact that Ithaca had two music schools, to one of which he applied and later graduated with a B.M. in music education. It was at the music school he met his wife-to-be, Amanda.
Still, he and Amanda have now made their way to Hawai‘i. A brief tenure in Buffalo, NY, a city paradoxically rich in culture and the arts, but suffering from the economic turndown—not to mention its famous winters—helped them to keep their eyes open for other options—perhaps international. Then the Punahou choral position was advertised and won by Michael. Later on, Amanda would secure a music teaching position there for the early grades.
Was it the music at LCH that attracted the family to attend our church? Not really. That was not the deciding factor. “We had spent a lot of time looking, trying other situations. With my Roman Catholic background, Amanda’s Methodist upbringing, we had not found the right mix. But something clicked with LCH. We had not tried Lutheran before. And there is something genuine about our experience at LCH. We feel comfortable with this community.”
We are grateful the mix has felt right and look forward to mutually satisfying times together.
Michael was interviewed by Fritz Fritschel
October 11, 2010
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