Leah Collins Lipsett

Freelance Journalist

Bachelor of Music, 2014; Bachelor of Journalism, 2015

It’s totally in my heart rather than my brain. I love the harmonies…

Leah Collins Lipsett can plunk out a tune on a ukulele, but she is more at home at a piano. She began playing at the age of six and talks proudly of her final recital to earn her Bachelor of Music degree from King’s and Dalhousie.  She nailed it, she says – an hour long recital, hundreds of thousands of notes memorized.

“It was the best performance I’ve ever given. It was the culmination of 15 years of work.”

But Leah is most at home when she is surrounded, engulfed really, by a choir. She joined her first choir around the same time she began playing piano. She explains,

“There is this great satisfaction with really making those harmonies with other people. It’s so different from performing on your own. I am a huge people person. It’s one of the most important things to me.”

Throughout her time at King’s, Leah sang in choirs and directed others. She directed the Shining Lights Choir, made up of people who have experienced homelessness. She accompanied the Phoenix Choir for Phoenix House, a place for children and youth at risk. And she was assistant music director and junior choir director at Fort Massey United Church, an incredible gothic structure built in 1871, overlooking the Halifax harbor. She was there for six years.

“It combined all the things I love about church music,” she says.

Leah’s love of ecclesiastical music and choral singing brought her into the King’s Chapel Choir. With up to ten hours of practice a week and her duties as Chapel Warden, Leah’s plate was full.  And while books have been written about the positive effects of music on neurochemistry, Leah states, “It’s totally in my heart rather than my brain. I love the harmonies they used back then, fourths and fifths, that gives an empty haunting sound.”

That haunting sound, the architectural beauty and the Anglican mass had a huge effect on Leah.

“Uplifting,” she says. “It’s an uplifting feeling. Heart swelling. I feel closer to understanding my place in the world.” 

Even though the choirs she sang in or directed took up much of her time, Leah didn’t shirk her academic pursuits. She “bookended”, as she says, her time at King’s with the Foundation Year Program (FYP) in the beginning and the one year Bachelor of Journalism degree at the end. But even studying journalism had a musical element for Leah.

“When I went in to radio I thought I might have a neat edge because of my music degree, being used to listening hard to how things go together. I am a practiced listener.”

Leah is currently developing an audio podcast, using her radio skills, and she is also singing in a choir at an Anglican church in Vancouver. All the things she did at King’s, she still does. As Leah says – “I came for FYP and I stayed for everything else.”

Posted: Apr. 2016

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