On Nov. 12, from 3-4:30 p.m., Pikesville’s Beth El Congregation will present the 10th annual H. Allan Lipsitz Memorial Concert. Lipsitz, who passed away in Feb. 2007 at age 64, served as Beth El’s director of adult education.
Performing at the free concert will be his son, David Lipsitz, with a group of professional singers and musicians. They will perform Hebrew, classical, secular and contemporary selections at the concert, which was made possible by the H. Allan Lipsitz Endowed Adult Education Fund and is presented by the Rabbi Mark G. Loeb Center for Lifelong Learning at Beth El.
Jmore recently spoke with David Lipsitz, a professional musician who lives in Washington, D.C.
Jmore: How did this concert come about?
DL: Well, 10 years is a fairly significant milestone and I thought I’d do something nice, particularly it being my dad and me being a professional musician. There have been a lot of folks who’ve wanted me to sing something for various programs there in my dad’s memory or otherwise.
It’s my home synagogue, I grew up there, went there from the time I was literally an infant in arms. My family’s been there for close to 100 years now. It’s home and I thought there might not be a better way to memorialize my father than performing in his memory.
Who will you be singing with?
It’s group of people I’ve sung with over the years, everything from people I performed with during high school and musicals at Beth Tfiloh to people at the very beginning of my college a cappella experience, to people that I sing with professionally today.
All of them are professional singers and/or musicians, so the quality is very high but the diversity of talent is quite significant, which is really nice. So we’re going to be covering a wide range of music, from James Taylor to artists like Puccini and from traditional Israeli music to modern Hebrew pop to contemporary religious stuff.
Can you talk about your dad’s legacy?
I don’t think I could understate my father’s impact on the community, not necessarily just in the synagogue but far outside of it. My dad grew up in the community but also he went to City College, he went to the University of Maryland. But beyond that, he became a school teacher in the public schools. So I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life hearing, “Oh, you’re Allan Lipsitz’s son!”
But one of the most notable and eye-opening things for me was my father was the consummate teacher, but also humble to a fault. He didn’t really say much about himself at all. I remember finding the “Baltimore County Teacher of the Year Award” on his desk buried under a bunch of other stuff. I had no idea he’d gotten it. He was a master teacher in all realms of education, from Judaic to English literature. He really did a tremendous amount of teaching, and the thing that was really an eye-opener for me was that at his funeral, we had a thousand people there and huge numbers were his students, who now in their 50s and 60s were coming back. And it was extremely powerful for me because I knew what an impact he had on me and on many other people we knew.
How did he have an impact on you?
He had an impact on me musically. … He wasn’t a phenomenal musician himself, but he was someone who always instilled a deep love of music in me from an early age. I listened to a tremendous amount of music in the house, but also going to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts from 3 or 4 years old, and also singing in the car.
But then it came down to him supporting my music outside of that, like him being there at every performance that I did, whether it was musicals in high school or eventually with the Young Victorian Opera Company. I was just a member of the chorus, but he’d still come to all those productions. And then further on up until he died, he’d come to see me at [University of] Maryland with all the groups I was involved with there.
So I don’t necessarily know if he was necessarily a mentor in music, but he was certainly a very enthusiastic supporter.
Why should people come to this concert?
Because it’s a concert in memory of somebody who was a giant in the community, and I think they’ll hear something they don’t often hear, which is a wide variety of different music from talented musicians. I think the concert’s important, the music’s important, but being there, remembering somebody who was such a giant. … The fact that we’re celebrating such a tremendous person in song, that is the most inspirational part of this.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-580-5166
Alex Holt is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.
Top photo: Beth El Congregation (Photo by Solomon Swerling, Jmore)
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