Michael Philipsen will present a concert of sacred and classical piano music at First Lutheran Church, 410 E. Sheridan St. in Centerville, on Sunday, July 13, at 3 p.m. A free will offering will be taken at the performance. He will perform music of Chopin, Haydn and Rachmaninoff, and also a number of hymn settings, including his own arrangement of “This Is My Father’s World.”
Philipsen was born and grew up in Des Moines, attended Simpson College where he earned his Bachelor of Music in piano performance, and then received his Master of Music in piano performance at the University of Missouri where he studied under the concert pianist Santiago Rodriguez.
From 1980 to 1986, Michael and wife Marva lived in Centerville where he taught voice and piano privately and Marva taught special education at Howar Junior High. During that time, Michael also played church services at First Baptist Church and assisted in rehearsals and performances for a number of musicals at Centerville High School. Their children, Melinda and Dane, were also born here at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital, Melinda in 1981 and Dane in 1983. Melinda Philipsen (now Melinda Kotagiri) returned to Centerville for four years as the band director at Howar Junior High, and during that time Michael was called into service once more to help out with the performances of “Seussical” at Centerville High School.
After leaving Centerville, Philipsen has been the choral director (and also professor of music theory, piano, and voice) at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa for the past 27 years, recently retiring. He took a choral group with an enrollment of 13 and built it into a very fine college choir of 50 members, and in the meantime added the Camerata Singers who have specialized in Renaissance music and have represented the college in many venues — including two Christmas performances at the Continental in Centerville. Philipsen has also performed as a vocalist and a pianist throughout the years, and most recently performed as piano soloist on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra. In the past, he has also performed the Gershwin Piano Concerto in F with both the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra and the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and the college choir has performed on a number of concerts with the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra and other southeast Iowa choirs, most recently Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (“Choral”) in 2011.
Philipsen has also composed music for piano, voice and chorus and is hoping to have more time in his retirement to continue working along this line. Several of his choral works have been performed by college, high school and church choirs, and one of his works, “April Is in My Mistress’ Face” was one of six national finalists selected for Ithaca College’s annual Choral Composition Contest. Since 1993 he has also maintained the practice of writing a new song for Christmas, which he and Marva use for their annual Christmas card.
Michael and Marva, on June 24, celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, Mira Kotagiri, and they are taking every opportunity to see as much of her as possible.