By Kevin Kelley
Samantha Smith, a music teacher at Hilliard Elementary School and Parkside Intermediate School, can claim to have performed with some of the best musicians and in some of the greatest music halls in the world.
Smith, who joined the Westlake City Schools in September, performed with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus earlier this month during its tour of Europe.
One of about 120 volunteer members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Smith spent nine days in Europe, performing Beethoven’s Mass in C Major with the group in Paris, France; Frankfurt, Germany; and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
“All three were so different,” Smith said of the concert venues. Each had unique acoustic qualities that made each performance different, she said.
In Luxembourg, for example, the chorus played in the Philharmonie Luxembourg, which opened in 2005, Smith noted. In contrast, the Frankfurt concert hall, the Alte Oper, dates to 1880, but was rebuilt and reopened a century later following bombing damage during World War II.
Beethoven’s Mass in C Major lasts around 40 minutes in all, Smith said, but includes several solo performances.
Now in her second year with the chorus, Smith decided to audition after she heard a performance.
“It’s just a different caliber of musicality,” she said.
Singing in a chorus accompanied by one of the most renowned orchestras in the world isn’t bad either, she said.
Smith believes her experience with the chorus makes her a better music teacher.
“It just really hones my skills as a vocalist,” she said, explaining that singing is the basis of music education, especially for elementary school students.
Smith said she also shares ideas with other music teachers who sing in the chorus.
Smith showed interest in music at an early age.
“I’ve been in music since elementary school, beginning with piano lessons,” she told West Life.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in music teaching from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.