Christina Smith goes solo 

If you need proof that, in music, "timing is everything," look no further than Atlanta Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Christina Smith. When first approached three years ago by conductor Marin Alsop about performing Christopher Rouse's Flute Concerto, Smith had no idea that the prospective featured solo stint would take place on the heels of pregnancy and the birth of her first child.

Sure enough, Alsop was booked as guest conductor with the ASO this year for March 11-13, with the Rouse concerto on the program. Meanwhile, Deidre Eileen Cronin was born Dec. 16, 2003 -- in another miracle of timing, on Beethoven's birthday -- to Smith and husband Robert Cronin, the orchestra's associate principal flutist. Since then, Smith's life has been comprised of her new baby, sleep and Rouse.

Not only is the composer's piece the most difficult concerto she will have performed with the ASO, the concerts are scheduled for Smith's first week back with the orchestra from maternity leave. She admits that it is "daunting to come back after a three-month leave and have that be the first thing you do," but the intense practicing doesn't seem to bother daughter Diedre.

"All she heard was nine months of flute while she was in the womb," says Smith, "so she probably thinks that's normal."

Christina Smith is the featured soloist with the ASO at Symphony Hall Thurs.-Sat., March 11-13. $19-$47.

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