“Music was always something I was going to do as a kid. There was never any question.”
For Wilton percussionist Arthur Lipner, his experiences with music began at the young age of 6. His mother was a professional singer who performed in not only local venues, but also New York City. He began his career studying classical piano and later added the vibraphone, marimba, and steel drums to his musical repertoire.
Recently he announced he would release a new double-album, Two Hands, One Heart, scheduled to be released digitally in the next few weeks. His inspiration for the project was to commemorate the past 25 years of recordings he’s done on both his albums and those of others.
It features 24 tracks, 12 acoustic and 12 electronic, which he selected as favorites from his seven or eight solo albums. “When you do about 10 to 12 songs on an album, it’s hard to make each one a killer,” Lipner told The Bulletin last week. “By picking the best ones from each of my albums, it makes for a great collection.”
Another venture of Lipner’s — the documentary Talking Sticks — has made its way around the world to numerous schools and universities. The film focuses on the vibraphone and marimba, exploring their histories, manufacturing processes, and relevance to different cultures.
“These are instruments that, up to this point, have never had a story about them before,” said Lipner.
What he loves most about them in particular is “the organic sound they produce, acoustic instruments hitting wood, hitting metal. It’s percussive, but melodic.”
There will be a public screening of Talking Sticks on Saturday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Voices Cafe on 10 Lyons Plains Road in Westport.
Since his performances take place on an international scale, Lipner has traveled to 24 countries throughout his career. His experiences, he said, are “different experiences from those of tourists.”
Rather than only staying in areas full of hotels, Lipner has opportunities to venture out. “I do performances sometimes in the not-as-nice sections of countries. I see the reality.”
Out of all his travels, however, he has most frequently been to Brazil. In fact, he has visited so often he now boasts fluency in Portuguese. Most recently he was in Rio De Janeiro.
“Brazilian harmony and rhythms are inspirational to me,” Lipner said. “Brazilian music is more vast than any other style of music on the planet.”
Lipner’s music tastes still expand well beyond Brazil, as he tunes in to music from Japan, the Philippines, Africa, the Caribbean, and other regions.
When asked what keeps him passionate about his work, Lipner responded, “It’s different all the time. It’s a creative field. I know I have a gift as a performer and composer and I enjoy sharing that.”
Although he enjoys the spontaneity his job provides, he advises aspiring artists to be wary. “Run,” Lipner said with a grin, “The field is changing so fast. There are so many unknowns. The musicians in the field now are only ones who feel that they can’t live without it.”
With regard to his future plans, Lipner will continue what he has been doing his whole life, “performing, composing, traveling, teaching.” When asked if he could ever step away from music, he said, “Not unless I’m physically unable to, or the industry goes south faster than it already is.”
A couple of interesting items on his résumé include playing the steel drums for a current United Airlines in-flight safety video and also for ABC’s TV show The View.