Dr. Mike Lopinto, a native of New Orleans, grew up surrounded by the pageantry of the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations and applied this inspiration throughout his life to theatrical endeavors including leading roles, directing, designing, music directing, and choreographing. He began spinning rifle in high school and quickly became the go to choreographer in his area. While pursuing graduate studies at The University of Southern Mississippi, he became the color guard coordinator and transformed the program into a haven for drum corps and winter guard performers. It was there he caught the eye of Southern Miss alum Fred Feeney who invited him to begin training as a judge with the Gulf Coast Color Guard Circuit.
Before he got very involved in that opportunity, he moved to Texas and spent a decade as a band director, teaching in some of the most successful programs in the state. Beginning his career at Copperas Cove, he returned the program to the state and national spotlight winning circuit accolades and traveling to Winter Guard International (WGI) Championships in 1994. When he moved to Leander ISD to pursue full-time band directing, contest director Tony Christofano and Oklahoma-based WGI judge Jackie Gilley snagged him to finally complete his training as a judge. He was groomed by Gilley and Shirlee Whitcomb and soon was judging for the Texas Color Guard Circuit. Shortly thereafter, he became the only WGI judge in Texas.
Lopinto and Gilley saw the explosion happening in the activity and began recruiting and training judges from across the state, bringing in pageantry experts to annual training sessions and panels, creating a base of local judges, many of whom became and continue to be WGI, DCI and BOA judges today. He continued teaching in LaPorte ISD and served as a Drum Corps International adjudicator and Chief Judge for the Texas Color Guard Circuit for nearly a decade.
In 2002, he returned to his alma mater where he earned his doctorate and serves as the PR/Marketing Coordinator for the School of Music. Additionally, he has directed events including international celebrities from Plácido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, and Renée Fleming to Dionne Warwick, The Pointer Sisters, and Patti LaBelle. Through the university and with his professional theatre company, he has directed acclaimed productions of Sweeney Todd, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, Rock of Ages and the upcoming Phantom of the Opera and regional premiere of Pasek and Paul’s James and the Giant Peach.
He maintains an active international consulting, design, and judging schedule, as the creative director of Consult M, a multi-faceted arts development organization that has worked with arts organizations around the country in the areas of brand development, PR, marketing and advertising. www.consultm.net.