he had extra room in her schedule. That and loving to sing are what made Christina Smith, a junior at Richmond Hill High School, decide to join chorus.
“Plus, after hearing her in the musical last year, the chorus teacher asked her to join,” Christina’s mother, Barb Smith, said.
With only one semester of chorus under her belt, Christina Smith tried out for All-State Chorus, which encompasses memorizing an étude, sight-reading and taking a listening and theory test — all within the first round.
If students pass the first round, they move on to the second round of auditions, where they must memorize five pieces of music to be sung at All-State Chorus. If a student gets 70 percent of the measures correct in the five pieces, they are accepted into All-State Chorus.
Smith didn’t just get 70 percent correct, she got 100 percent of the measures correct, which no one else in her group was able to accomplish. Smith will sing with an estimated 300 other students in All-State Chorus on Feb. 20-22, at the Classic Center in Athens.
“I’ll get to sing for the weekend in front of anyone who comes,” Smith said. “It’s my first time in All-State Chorus, but I love to sing. I sing for the praise team at my church.”
She has also participated in the after-school show choir, where she first met the director of the choral activities at RHHS, Jamie Hillen.
“I have worked with Christina since she was a freshman here at RHHS,” Hillen said. “That year I started an after-school show choir, and she auditioned and was one my most talented and devoted members.”
Hillen worked with Smith again her sophomore year when she played the Sour Kangaroo in the school musical “Seussical the Musical.”
“When she auditioned, we couldn’t believe such a big voice came out of that small body,” Hillen said. “I was excited when she told me she would have room in her schedule to take chorus fall semester. She is very devoted to the band, but wanted to branch out a little.”
Smith has been in band since sixth grade.
“It’s a funny story. In sixth grade, I was put in a music appreciation class, which is basically just straight music theory,” she explained with a slight laugh. “I thought it was so boring that I decided to join band to get out of music theory. But now, I look back on that and I laugh because I am a huge music theory junkie. I will read all the books and everything.”
Smith’s main instrument is the trumpet, but she has played everything from French horn to flute to saxophone, piano and guitar.
“Christina always has a great attitude,” Hillen said. “She was able to maintain a heavy marching band practice schedule, get great grades, find time to learn her All-State Chorus solo and all other things involved in making All-State Chorus, plus prepare for a very competitive All-State Band audition.”
The All-State Band audition was just as difficult as the chorus audition. The first round consists of playing scales and a lyrical étude, which tests a person’s musicality. If the student makes an 80 or above, they move on to the second round.
During the second round, a student must play lyrical and technical études. If the student receives a specific score, they are accepted into the All-State Band.
Smith found out within two weeks that she had made both All-State Chorus and All-State Band. She will play in All-State Band the first weekend of March in Athens. All-State Band consists of two bands made up of close to 80 people each, as well as two orchestras and a jazz band.
“I was on my way to a youth retreat when I found out, so I started calling everybody and posting it to Facebook,” Smith said. “It was so exciting.”
Barb Smith said she didn’t want to brag, but she and her husband, Brian, are both very proud of their daughter.
“Only one other person that we know of has made both All-State Chorus and All-State Band, and he was a senior,” Barb Smith said. “Christina did it as a junior. I am very proud. It’s lots of hours driving here and there, taking her to lessons and being involved, but I also know it helps her to be around good kids who have a similar passion, especially here in Richmond Hill.”
As far as she is concerned, Christina got her musical talents from her father.
“I can’t even clap on beat,” Barb Smith said with a laugh. “My husband is very musical. When we were stationed in Germany we got involved in musical dramas that they had at the church, and I made sure Christina got involved because she loved to sing.”
Christina Smith plans to use her passion and talents for music in her future. Although she doesn’t know what college she wants to attend yet, she said she knows she wants to study music education, as well as be involved in band and chorus during college.
“Music has had such a big impact on my life and I want to share it with other people,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the talent God has given me and my parents and friends that supported me and of course (band director) Dr. (Daniel) Kiene and Mr. Hillen, who have helped me prepare and have really gotten me where I am.”
Luckily for RHHS, Smith still has one more year to share her talent in the band and chorus.
“Christina is an incredible young woman who can do great things in music if she chooses to,” Hillen said. “The best thing about all of this is that she is only a junior and we can benefit from her talents for one more year.”
Other students at RHHS who made All-State Chorus included Sarah Barry, Donovan Nally, Mia Ricciardi-Kling, Gwen Leahy and Sarah Furlong, and the other student who made All-State Band at RHHS was DaMarcus Patterson.