Though he only moved to Charlotte a few weeks before school started, Professor Justin Smith came ready to take on the Queens music department as choral director.
“What I was brought on to do is to energize and build up the choral program here mainly to get our students really amazing experiences,” Smith said.
No doubt Professor Smith will do just that– A concert at Carnegie Hall in New York is already set for this upcoming summer. A fully staged opera will take place in the new arts building later this spring and the choral program performed a Mozart piece with a professional orchestra in November.
Smith emphasized his appreciation for Queens’ support of the arts. With the building of the new multi-million-dollar arts building, Queens is demonstrating its support for music, financial and otherwise.
Having lived in three different countries throughout his life, Smith is well-traveled. Born and raised in Boston, Smith moved to Australia as a kid, then graduated from high school in Seoul, Korea.
Going into high school, Smith thought he would pursue veterinary studies, but he decided otherwise after taking his first science class. He concluded that the complexity of science just wasn’t for him. Smith played the clarinet in high school marching band, clueless that one day he would make a living doing what he loved most: music.
Smith obtained his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, planning to major in film and become a Hollywood director. Throughout college, he involved himself in musical theatre and the orchestra, uncovering his passion for music.
“By junior year, it was pretty clear that’s what I wanted to do and frankly, it seemed a little bit more employable than ‘I’m going to Hollywood’– and to do what?” said Smith.
Smith is happy with his decision and doesn’t see himself ever retiring; teaching music is his reason for getting up every morning.
He had nothing but nice things to say about his students, praising music therapy students and their desire to not only perform, but to provide a service to those in need. “They want to use music not just to perform and make other people happy, but to help people and increase their quality of life,” he said.
Photo by Katharine Kimball. www.KatharineKimballWeddings.com