Singing at Carnegie Hall in New York City is an experience of a lifetime for 18-year-old Christopher Jue.
The Lakeview Academy senior was selected to perform for a second time with an ensemble as part of the 2017 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s most prestigious concert venues. Christopher is one of 750 chosen out of the more than 18,000 students nominated to participate in one of five ensembles this year.
He will perform today at Carnegie Hall, but it is not his first time to appear in the iconic concert center. Two years ago, as a high school sophomore, Christopher was selected to perform in the Honors Performance Series.
“The first time singing at Carnegie Hall was amazing,” he said. “Usually when you’re singing, you can’t really hear yourself that well. But when you’re at Carnegie Hall, everything is reverberating back at you, so you kind of get a concert yourself. It’s the best I’ve ever heard.”
Christopher flew to New York last week and rehearsed with the choir for three days. He was expected to have six songs memorized, including two in different languages, upon arrival.
“You get there and everyone already knows the music,” Christopher said. “Everything is already memorized. So you’re pretty much just polishing up for the next couple days.”
Christopher heard the news he’d be going back to New York City this year from his mother, Lisa, after she received an email.
“We’re excited,” Lisa Jue said. “He did it in 10th grade and he was asked to interview again. So he tried out again this year.”
To perform in the Honors Performance Series, students have to be nominated. Steve Coldiron, associate minister of music at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, sent in Christopher’s name.
“He’s one of the brightest kids that we’ve ever had come through the program (at First Baptist),” Coldiron said. “He’s one of those kids that whatever he tackles he’s going to give 150 percent and he’s going to do great at it.”
Coldiron said he’s been working with Christopher from a young age and has seen his voice mature over the years.
“He’s got a great tenor voice, especially for his age,” Coldiron said.
Christopher started singing as a kindergartner in a choir at First Baptist.
“I did the church choir and they (church choir directors) taught me,” he said, admitting he is not classically trained. “I had a few lessons throughout high school.”
Lisa said Christopher’s musical abilities don’t come from her or his father.
“We’re not musical. He’s doing it all himself,” she said. “He’s naturally good at it.”
His natural ability will be seen along with performers from 49 states and several other countries during the performance.
Christopher said he hopes to make new friends this year just like last time. In 2015, he got to know a group of students from Alaska. They were a few years older and are in college now, but he still keeps in touch. He said it is interesting to see them explore careers in different areas, such as engineering or writing, but keep music as a part of their lives.
He hopes to do the same at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I want to do something with math and science, most likely,” Christopher said. “I want to keep my musical influence. Austin is a musical town. I don’t know if I could double major there or minor in music. Whatever I do in life, I want music to be a part of it, whether it’s leisure or a job.”
At the moment Christopher is involved in several extracurricular activities involving music. He is a member of Lakeview’s musical theatre troupe, which recently won the championship title in the one-act play competition for Class A private schools for the fourth time.
He also plays several instruments including guitar, ukulele, mandolin and hand bells.
“For me, singing is like a form of expression,” he said. “They call it the ‘universal language.’ ... When I’m stressed or have a lot going on, it really provides me relief and it always makes me happier when I sing or play instruments.”