It is no secret that the performing arts can have a profound effect on both performers and enthusiasts alike. FIM has been serving its community for over 100 years, reaching more than 300,000 people annually through lessons, classes, outreach programs, performances and concerts.

Many students who have studied at FIM Flint School of Performing Arts continue performing well into their adult lives, professionally or otherwise. When former students return to FIM, it’s a magical full-circle moment — a testament to the transformative power of the performing arts.

On Saturday, May 18, 2024 the FIM Flint Symphony Orchestra will perform its final concert of the season. The opening piece, Halcyon Sun, was composed by FSPA alumnus Jonathan Bailey Holland. Holland enjoys a prolific career as a composer and music educator, serving as dean of the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music and as the Kay Davis Professor of Music at Northwestern University.

“My early years of music-making included trumpet and piano lessons at FIM, in addition to playing in various ensembles and performing in recitals,” said Holland. “I remember attending FSO concerts as a kid, long before I had any inkling that I would someday hear them play my own music.”

Holland shared that he has been composing in some capacity for as long as he can remember. He would plunk out melodies on the family piano, and even wrote a fanfare and brass quintet arrangements for his school ensemble
to perform.

Halcyon Sun was commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as part of the celebration of the opening of the Freedom Center International Railroad Museum. “The work was inspired by the idea of the sun and what it would have signified for someone who was once forced to work under its oppressive heat and was later able to enjoy the sun as a free person,” said Holland. “The entire work depicts the journey across the sky, from sunrise to sundown.”
Holland is excited to work with the Symphony on his music and share it with the local community. “I am grateful for my early experiences at FIM, and I am glad to know that it continues to enrich so many lives,” he said.

The FSO season will close with the powerhouse Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, featuring FSPA alumna Anne-Marie Atanga as a soprano soloist, as well as John Reisen, tenor and Johnathan Ten Brink, bass/baritone.

Anne-Marie Atanga studies voice performance and neuroscience at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, but she got her start at FSPA with ballet and piano lessons at age 6, and voice lessons at age 10.

She explained the impact that her arts education at FSPA has made on her college experience so far, citing the similarities between the two. She had many opportunities to perform both as a soloist and in ensembles long before setting foot on campus.

“A lot of that would be new to students who didn’t do a similar program, but it wasn’t for me, so I wasn’t intimidated by it. FSPA made the transition to college pretty seamless,” said Atanga.
Like Holland, Atanga has fond memories of attending FSO concerts as a child.

She even conducted from the audience at her first Holiday Pops concert, a story her mother tells often. She also has a special attachment to FIM Whiting Auditorium, having danced many Nutcrackers at the venue.
“It was a huge part of my life,” said Atanga. “Performing there is really special to me, and I’m really glad I get to come back as a professional now. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The FSO season finale promises to deliver a captivating program while also serving as a special homecoming for two Flint natives and FSPA alumni.