By Wendell Leafstedt
On Saturday, Oct. 12, Lawrence University Conservatory students and faculty joined Appleton community members to recognize Frank Rippl’s achievements in the fine arts, which span the last four decades. The celebration included speeches, readings and musical selections. Rippl was a co-founder of the Appleton Boychoir and has touched many lives as the organist and choir director at All Saints Episcopal Church. He will continue to work at the church for the foreseeable future.
Many of Rippl’s colleagues, past and present, wanted to share stories about their experiences with him. The other two co-founders of the boychoir, Jim Heiks and Austin Boncher, both had much to say. They spoke of how he had a special relationship with the children from the beginning. He was like a “surrogate grandfather to the boys,” Heiks said. He worked to instill a passion for music in each one of them.
The mood at the event was light. While everyone in attendance wished their best to Rippl, many jokes and quips were made at his expense, none of which he seemed to mind; he only smiled and nodded from his seat.
Others shared tales of Rippl’s endearing quirks. In her introduction, Lecturer of Music and University Organist Kathy Handford recalled a humorous misunderstanding from when she first met Rippl. The audience laughed loudly with every speaker who took the podium.
The music, however, was more serious. There was a performance by the much-discussed Appleton Boychoir. They sang six songs in a variety of styles. Later, alumnus Andrew Breuninger ‘14, baritone, brought to life some pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Junior saxophonist Gabriel Peterson and Collaborative Pianist Nicholas Towns played the two contrasting movements of Jeanie Reuff’s “Chanson et Passepied.” To end the entire event, Paul Weber played a monumental finale on the organ: the last movement from “Symphonie No. 1” by Louis Vierne.
Three times during the event, the entire audience rose to sing traditional hymns together. During these moments of song, one could see the impact of the “Rippl Effect” that emerita Nancy Stowe mentioned during her tribute. Rippl was a proponent of “music for all.”
Frank Rippl’s contributions to the community are ongoing—he continues to teach music in Appleton, hoping to inspire compassionate young musicians. You can find him on Sundays at All Saints Episcopal Church, right next to the Conservatory.