RISING SUN — Vocal talents are taking one Rising Sun High School senior to Music City.
Christopher Jentzsch, 17, was recently selected as a vocalist with the 2013 National Association for Music Education All-National Honors Ensemble. He will join more than 670 musically talented high school students to perform on Oct. 30 in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
“I am beyond excited,” said Jentzsch.
The National Association for Music Education advocates for music education on the local, state and national levels. For the gala, the All-National Honors Ensembles will consist of a concert band, symphony orchestra, mixed chorus and jazz ensemble.
Jentzsch will lend his tenor to the mixed chorus, which has approximately 350 high school vocalists.
Eligible students for all honors ensembles first had to qualify for their state-level honor ensemble program and then compete against top students from across the country for the national ensembles. To audition, Jentzsch uploaded a video of himself singing. He recalled making recording after recording in an effort to get it just right.
“I kept having little mistakes; I wanted to get it perfect,” he said.
Jentzsch flies out to Nashville this Sunday. His family, including his parents Karl and Tracy Jentzsch, will meet him in Nashville for his performance.
Before the performance, Jentzsch will have the chance to meet with other young music lovers. The days leading up to the performance will be spent in rehearsals and music workshops. For the concert, the students will perform under four different well-known U.S. conductors: Peter Boonshaft, Miriam Burns, Rollo Dilworth and Rodney Whitaker.
Jentzsch’s background in music started with him singing in choir and learning how to play the piano. He has also done musical theater at school.
When it comes to listening to music for enjoyment, Jentzsch prefers opera. He counts singer-songwriter Lana Del Ray, who is known for her orchestral pop arrangements and retro 1960s style, as his favorite modern artist. But he said he doesn’t like to listen to music while he’s driving because it’s “too distracting” for him.
Although his entire family shares an appreciation for music – his father leads contemporary worship services and plays the drums, keyboard and guitar – his parents were surprised Jentzsch was interested in singing.
“We didn’t know that he had vocal talent until he was in middle school,” said his mother Tracy. Jentzsch told the family he was going to be in a school play, and it turned out to be a musical. When he came on stage in character, he belted out a solo, Tracy recalled.
Tracy said the support her son received from his high school, teachers and the Cecil County Public School system have helped Jentzsch pursue his talent.
At Rising Sun High School, Jentzsch studies with music teacher Jeffrey Anderson. Anderson said he usually has several students who are very interested in vocal performance and choose to study music in college. Even so, he said, Jentzsch stands out.
“He’s extremely talented, he’s very sharp musically,” Anderson said. When Jentzsch was a freshman, he was allowed to join Anderson’s chorale for students, which is typically filled by upperclassmen.
Anderson added that Jentzsch has strong leadership skills. On days when Anderson is absent, he will put Jentzsch in charge of chorale rehearsal. He said students do not question Jentzsch’s leadership.
In the beginning of high school, Jentzsch looked at music as a hobby and planned to pursue engineering as a career. However, after his experiences in high school where he was encouraged to make the most of his talent and passion, he is now applying to various college music program and aspires to become a music teacher.
“I really have a strong passion for performance, but also for teaching other people, and even a strong passion for learning,” he said.
While others might feel nervous putting themselves out there for a crowd, Jentzsch said he feels comfortable performing for an audience.
“I like being in front of large numbers of people. That’s where I feel most at home,” he said. But, he added, he prefers singing to public speaking. “When I’m singing, I know what I’m doing.”