I am, or have been at some point in my career, a professional singer, a teacher, a choral director, a worship leader, and a music administrator. I have a degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in Vocal Pedagogy and both a masters and a doctorate in vocal performance from the University of Michigan. Following my masters degree I enjoyed a 13 year career as a church musician at McPherson Free Methodist Church in Kansas and at Browncroft Community Church in Rochester, New York. I have taught studio voice and voice related subjects at Central College of Kansas, Concordia University of Ann Arbor, Spring Arbor University, the University of Idaho, Virginia Tech and Radford University.
My voice teachers have included Monte Long, Robert Shewan, Allan Mosher, Leslie Guinn, Freda Herseth, and most recently, W. Stephen Smith. I have sung as a soloist under the batons of Gustav Meier, Edward Parmentier, Murry Sidlin, Martin Katz and Kenneth Kiesler, and worked with stage directors Edward Berkeley, Jay Lessinger, Joshua Major and Nicolette Molnar.
I love to sing. Most recently most of my projects have focused on art song. My efforts to create recitals that are engaging to the YouTube generation have received national professional attention. I have also been honored to premier several new works for baritone, most of which have been written for my voice. Composer and friend, Manly Romero, wrote a beautiful and engaging cycle for me entitled “Three Songs for a Wedding” based on English translations of Pablo Neruda sonnets. My most recent project is a song cycle for baritone, guitar and cello, commissioned from Minneapolis composer Jocelyn Hagen. It is based on a photo documentary by Lauren Swihart and her photos will be featured as part of the performance of the cycle. I raised over $3,600 for this commission through the Kickstarter website.
One of my favorite gigs is oratorio, and I have been honored to sing works by Bach, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Brahms, Haydn, Handel, McCullough, Willberg, Saint-Saëns and Fauré with the Roberts Wesleyan Chorale, the Virginia Tech choirs, the Blacksburg Master Chorale, the McPherson Chorale, the Bay Chorale, the choirs of Saginaw Valley State University and the choirs of Greene Memorial Church and Blacksburg United Methodist Church. I have been recorded as a soloist with the Roberts Wesleyan Chorale in works of Hansen and Sowerby, and these recordings are commercially available on the Albany Records label.
In my role as a church musician I have produced and conducted pageants, plays, concerts with combined choirs and orchestras, directed praise bands and choirs for children, teens and adults, planned countless worship services and led literally thousands of people in Christian worship over the years.
So that’s a little about WHAT I’ve done. Perhaps more important is WHY I do what I do.
At a very basic level I want to fill other’s lives with beauty and light. I’ve found that music is a great way to do this. To me this is what art (classical) music is about. I like many kinds of music, but my connection with art music is special. It inspires me, it moves me, it feeds my spirit, it lifts me, it challenges me, and it stimulates my mind. For these reasons art music has become an essential part of my life. In turn, I want the people in my life to be inspired, moved, fed, lifted, challenged and stimulated, and so I share art music with them in whatever ways I am able.
In the area of “not about my career” are the following facts. I am a husband to Erica Ann Sipes, pianist, practice coach, cellist, mother and scholar extraordinaire. I am also daddy to Emma Katherine Sipes, most awesome seven-year-old, singer, dancer, designer and lover of silliness. Finally, I feel blessed to have an abiding sense of the presence of God and faith in Him through Christ.
If you would like to know more about me, I would be more than happy to share with you. Please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or through the “contact me” form on this site.