Carl Lipke

2010 F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award
Carl Lipke

Carl Lipke was born and raised in Rice County, Minnesota and is a graduate of Faribault High School. He received a BS degree from Mankato State University and an MA degree from the University of Minnesota. While attending Mankato State, Carl played in the Concert Band under Howard Van Sickle and sang in the Concert Choir under Elias J. Halling, both for four years.

His teaching career began at Cleveland High School in 1951, where for one year he was a vocal and instrumental music teacher and an assistant coach for the football, basketball, track and baseball teams. He then served 22 months on active duty with the Naval Air Reserve. In the fall of 1954, Carl came to North High School in North St. Paul to head up the music department and teach vocal music.

Carl Lipke’s choirs consistently received superior ratings and were awarded more than 60 trophies in MSHSL large group competitions. They toured Europe several times and performed all across the United States. During his tenure, he has mentored over 35 student teachers from various colleges including Bethel University, Hamline University, Northwestern College, St. Olaf College, and the University of Minnesota. Several of his former high school students have gone on to become successful choral directors.

After 39 years at North St. Paul High School, he retired in 1993. He continues to direct the North High School Alumni Choir, which he has done since his retirement. In addition to his duties at North, he directed the youth Cathedral Choir at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis (7 years), the Roseville Lutheran Church Adult Choir (4 years) taking them on a concert tour of Norway. He is currently in his eighth year with the Salem Lutheran Church Adult Choir in West St. Paul. For 25 years, Carl was the director of the 3M Music Makers. This was a corporate sponsored choir, auditioned from the full-time employees of 3M, created as a public relations group for the company. They traveled and performed at 3M functions both here in Minnesota and in many locations across the country.

Carl has enjoyed a 50-year affiliation with the Minnesota Music Educators Association. He was named MMEA Music Educator of the Year in 1985-86, and served as Vocal Vice President in 1986-87. He was inducted into the MMEA Hall of Fame in 1996.

In 1991 Carl received the Minnesota Outstanding Music Educator Award from the National Federation Interscholastic Music Association and in 1995 received the Outstanding Music Educator Award for Section 5, a six-state area of the organization. In 1998, the Association honored him with their Citation Award as the National Outstanding Music Educator of the Year. This is the first and only time a Minnesota music director has received this prestigious national award.

Carl has been a member of the American Choral Directors Association for 41 years and was appointed its first state president in 1969. Since 1996, he has been an active member and one of the original organizers of the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund Committee and has chaired that group since 2007.

In 1971, Executive Director Murrae Freng of the Minnesota State High School League hired Carl as Music Consultant. In that role, which he still holds today, he assigns contest judges, chairs the Music Advisory Committee, conducts adjudicator certification clinics, updates the League Music Manual, and hosts the contest manager’s workshops. In May of 2009, Carl was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame.

In his spare time, Carl is also a pilot and has been a Flight Instructor and Charter Pilot at the University of Minnesota Flight Facilities, flying state officials, U of M presidents and staff, department heads, as well as transporting donor organs for the U of M hospitals. He later became a Flight Instructor and Pilot Examiner at Wings, Inc. at the St. Paul Airport. In November of 2009, he was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Safety Award for over 50 years of safe flying without any accidents, incidents or violations.

Carl is an avid fisherman and hunter and has several trophy fish and large animals decorating his home and cabin. Carl has been married to Jean for 46 years, and they reside in North Oaks. They have two children, four grandchildren, and five grand-dogs.