Catalyst Community: Music & the Arts

The word “community” is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular interest in common. Catalyst Midland has launched a new series titled “Catalyst Community” focusing on different communities — sometimes geographic, sometimes a common interest. In this week’s Catalyst, we reach out to a familiar figure in Midland for his insight on the role music and the arts play in our community and beyond.
Jim Hohmeyer was named Midland Musician of the Year in 2014.
Jim Hohmeyer retired in 2017 from his position as artistic director and conductor at the Midland Center for the Arts. Currently, he is the music director for the United Church of Christ. He teaches piano, organ, trumpet and trombone in the studio he shares with Susan Mercy, who teaches piano, violin, viola and cello. 

Hohmeyer was named the "Midland Musician of the Year" for 2014. He is an adjudicator for the Michigan School Vocal Music Association and an active member of the Mid-Michigan Music Teachers Association, where he conducts the annual Keyboard Festival Concert in January.  He is also the conductor emeritus of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. Conducting credits are many, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Arizona State Honors Orchestra, Lake St. Clair Symphony and the Michigan Opera Theater Touring Orchestra.

Music & the Arts, by Jim Hohmeyer

Music builds heard unity.

Humans love to associate in groups and to bond with others with similar values and cultural norms. We are born into a family, go to schools with classmates our own age, move into the workforce in a large group, and gradually end up in a group of people our own age that have similar interests. We go to houses of worship in which we were raised and continue to pass onto our children similar values and beliefs.
As a community, we bond well with those who have similar values, cultures and backgrounds. We tend to avoid and distance ourselves from those people with beliefs that don't align with our own. Consider the culture of the United States today following the 2020 election, as an example.

One of the signs of a healthy community is the level of music and arts the community supports. But, into the mix of our cultural demarcations enters music and the arts. Slashing across our cultural divisions, our well-ingrained value systems, our deeply-held religious convictions, music and the arts cut through the cultural pathogens, rattles our souls and emotions, spurs us to look at the world in a way that we never thought possible, and challenges our own beliefs that we thought were firmly locked in concrete. 

Judaism, Christianity, and countless other theisms have all realized the power of music and art in delivering a foundation of emotional truth that cannot be easily ignored. If you need proof, try watching any movie without the music playing. Music breaks down the perceived social barriers in cultures and brings together a wide variety of people who have music performance as their motivation. 
One of the signs of a healthy community is the level of music and arts the community supports. A strong and vibrant arts community reflects a strong and vibrant community that understands how music and the arts can be a unique catalyst for reaching the soul of the community.
Jim Hohmeyer with piano student, Joseph Jackson
In Midland, we are fortunate to have many wonderful music groups and arts organizations including:
  • Midland Center for the Arts
  • Creative 360
  • Midland Symphony
  • Midland Community Orchestra
  • Midland Concert Band
  • Chemical City Band
  • Blast from the Past Big Band
  • The Jolly Hammers and Strings ensemble (Folk Music Society)
  • Midland Chorale
  • Men of Music (Dow Men’s Chorus established in 1936)
  • Bella Voce Choir and Youth Honors Choirs at the Midland Center
  • Harmony Diversity Choir
  • Church choirs and bands
  • Small “garage” bands and ensembles
  • Outstanding school bands, choirs and orchestras
When you are participating in a musical ensemble, it affords you the opportunity to develop friendships, and experience a wide divergence of cultures and ideas. Music can even change your perceptions and appreciation of the world’s immense diversity of cultures. Music really does develop heard unity.

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