Lessons and Carol(s) and Frank

Music lives forever.

I thought about that Saturday afternoon as the timeless strains of the Appleton Boychoir’s A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols echoed through the Lawrence Chapel.

The Festival dates back to 1880 and the Appleton Boychoir has performed it annually since 1979. Our own involvement started in 1995 when our oldest son Charlie first took part.

That year and every year since, the concert has taken my breath away. I listen to those sweet voices fill that nearly 100-year old chapel and see those little boys standing ramrod straight in white dress shirts, striped ties and blue blazers and I can hardly move.

Shepherding the youngest members, many of whom, like my son, had never sung in such a large public space, was Appleton Boychoir co-founder Frank Rippl. Kind, gentle and talented, Mr. Rippl cheerfully wrangled his energetic bunch of eight and nine-year olds into a sincere, honest and harmonious choir.

He taught them to respect themselves and the music they performed. The lessons and the music live on though those little boys have long grown up and moved on to lives of their own.

Sadly, Mr. Rippl passed away in August, eight years after retiring as a boychoir director. His wife of 43 years, Carol Jegen, a singer, director and voice teacher, honored Rippl’s legacy by reading one of the lessons at this year’s festival.

As she read, I thought about legacies and how those lucky enough to base theirs on music, or laughter, or love live on through the songs and stories they leave behind.

My favorite moment in a concert full of beautiful ones, was when Rudy Salm sang “Christmas Blessing” with the Ambassador Choir. Rudy, his brother Sean and their dad Ben all sang solos in the concert, another example of how music literally echoes through generations.

Here’s a clip of Rudy’s solo, shot by his mom, Allison, who let me share it with all of you:

Merry Christmas and rest in peace and love, Mr. Rippl. Your legacy of music lives on.

If you missed seeing the concert live, you can catch it on NBC26 on Dec. 24 at 10:35 pm, and Dec. 25 at 11 a.m., and on WACY MYNEW32 on Dec. 25 at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Rudy, Ben and Sean Salm all sang solos at this year’s Festival. Ben, a graduate of the Boychoir, is a member of the Master Singers. All three Salm gentlemen have beautiful, strong voices and a lot of poise.
Always an impressive backdrop, that beautiful old organ seemed especially poignant following Mr. Rippl’s death. This is a shot from the chapel balcony of Carol Jegen reading the Eighth Lesson.
I like to think all the beautiful music made in this chapel echoes around the place and provides rich support for the next generation of performers. You can close your eyes at Lessons and Carols and hear a thousand sweet voices from all the singers who have gone before.
Together, Frank Rippl and Carol Jegen, who met at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, have left a remarkable imprint on the Appleton area music scene.
Vinnie in Croatia
This is our son Vinnie during his final year with the Appleton Boychoir. The experience taught both our sons to appreciate music and they both went on the sing in high school and college. But, the lessons Frank Rippl, Jim Heiks, Austin Boncher, Kevin Meidl and the boychoir taught transcended music. Our sons also learned to stand up straight, tie a tie, and respect themselves, their director , their fellow performers, the music and the audience. These lessons continue with the boychoir’s current directors Anna Frato, Tammy Kasten, Dr. Meidl and Carole Rajkovich.















4 thoughts on “Lessons and Carol(s) and Frank

  1. Thank you for this posting today. I missed the concert this year, but will set my DVR to catch it on TV. I was lucky to work with Frank for many years when I taught at Lincoln Elementary. He was such a talented, kind, encouraging, and gentle soul. I love the picture of
    Frank and Carol. I’m glad your boys got to experience working with the talented team of Boy Choir instructors.

    1. It really has been a privilege to be associated with the Appleton Boychoir and both Frank and Carol. I almost missed the concert this year, came careening in at the last minute and was so glad I did.

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