Sep 17, 2022
“Music is the universal language of mankind.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Barriers of language and culture often appear when traveling thousands of miles across oceans and continents. For Lisa Griffith, the ‘universal language of mankind’ defined by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow helped pave the way from her hometown to a European opera house and beyond.
Griffith, a Belleville native and a 1975 graduate of Kishacoquillas High School, has used the gift of song from an early age to forge an impressive career. She estimates the age of 5 when the adventure began.
“They had me do a solo in church,” Griffith said recently. It wasn’t until a few years later that a career in music became a serious consideration. “I started taking voice lessons at 17 and realized that is what I would like to do. My goal was to become a Broadway music singer.”
Griffith studied music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania after a brief initial detour.
“I decided I wanted to do something with music,” she said. “I actually started out in psychology, but I was drawn to the music department. So I decided to combine the two.”
She graduated from IUP in 1979 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. From there it was on to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Griffith earned a Master of Music degree in 1981 and an Artist’s Diploma in Opera in 1983.
There was still a big decision for Griffith before appearing on the worldwide stage.
“My voice teacher at Indiana wanted me to sing classical music,” she said. “But there was a teacher at Cincinnati who encouraged me to go to Europe. I took her advice and got a job in Wiesbaden.”
Griffith knows she made the right choice. It sent her nearly 3,900 miles from Mifflin County to western Europe and a performance in the German Opera on the Rhine in Düsseldorf, where she has performed since 1991. Her performances as a coloratura soprano have been highly acclaimed by critics in major German opera houses. A coloratura soprano possesses a high range to the second C above middle C and higher. Griffith has also given concerts throughout the world.
But, world travel has not dimmed her view of Mifflin County.
“I live in a small village in Germany called Oestrich-Winkel, but I come to Pennsylvania about three times a year,” she said. “I bought a small house in Lewistown. It’s my home away from home. The older I get, the more homesick I get.”
From music on the world stage to the vineyards of her adopted home of Oestrich-Winkel, Griffith has enough to keep herself busy. She still manages time for her love of animals.
“I am very interested in animals, especially cats,” she said. “When I come home to Pennsylvania, I am always taking care of stray cats. When I retire, I will probably do something to care for animals.”
Griffith will be displaying her talent in Mifflin County in early October. She will perform during the Sunday service at First United Methodist Church in Lewistown at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 2.
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