Caleb Smith, 12, performs in lead role of fundraising opera
TAYLORS—Caleb Smith finds joy in sharing his faith through song.
The seventh-grader at Prince of Peace School played the title role in “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” the holiday opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, at Triune Mercy Center in Greenville Dec. 12-13.
The performances were fundraisers for the center, which offers worship services, a soup kitchen, clothes closet and other assistance to the homeless in the Greenville area.
It was the first leading role in an opera for Caleb, who is the oldest son of Shane and Ann Smith of Greenville.
However, it wasn’t the first time the 12-year-old has shared his vocal skills with the public. His mother said he has been singing since he was a preschooler.
“I remember reading a book that said before kids are five, they might like to sing but they can’t carry a tune,” Smith said. “I said that book was wrong, because by the age of three it was obvious that when Caleb sang, he was actually singing. Just like one child might walk earlier than another, it was something that from early on, he liked to do and did well.”
Caleb sang in school and church choirs both in Greenville and during the 17 months the family lived in southwest Missouri.
Three years ago, he joined Chicora Voices, a choral program for vocally gifted boys and girls that is directed by Allan Reed, who is also music director at Prince of Peace Church. Caleb has performed in several concerts, sung with the American Boychoir when they visited the area, and traveled to Disney World in spring 2009 to sing at the annual Children in Harmony Festival.
Now, he is preparing for a mid-January audition for a solo in a large sacred choral work, Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” to be performed by the Greenville Chorale and Greenville Symphony at the Peace Center in May.
“It’s hard to explain why I like singing so much,” Caleb said in a recent interview with The Miscellany. “When I start singing it just feels good. It’s just a happy feeling.”
He said the role of Amahl was fun because of the humor that runs through many parts of Menotti’s one-act opera, which tells the story of a poor, disabled boy who encounters the Magi on their way to visit the infant Jesus.
His favorite performances, he said, are for his fellow students.
For the past two years, Caleb has served as cantor at school Masses, a job once held by his mom. He took over for her one week when she had a sore throat, and did so well that he has since become a regular cantor. He also helped form a St. Cecilia’s Guild, named after the patron saint of music, for other students who serve as cantors.
“Mass is probably one of my favorite times and places to sing,” he said.
Outside of singing and schoolwork, Caleb likes to play adventure and action video games and read voraciously.
“I like adventure, action, comics — anything as long as the books aren’t girly!” he said.
For Caleb, music will always be something he does because he loves it, not his career.
“He flat out has said it’s not what he wants to do with his life,” Smith said. “He wants it to be something fun and something that’s part of his faith.”
Caleb said he wants to channel his interest in science into a career in botany.
“I’d like to learn how to genetically modify plants and eventually work maybe with NASA, learn how to do things like produce plants that produce more fruit in smaller environments or produce more oxygen,” he said. “Singing is for fun.”
“Any time your child does something well, you’re so proud,” Smith said. “We’re proud of what he does because he puts his talent to such good use. It’s something that brings pleasure to others and gives glory to God.”