Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2020 : Mary Hoffman
Where do you work and what do you do? Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Director of Music for 12 years
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been singing since I have memory. I attended Illinois Wesleyan University for my undergrad in Music Education and later Emory University for my graduate work in choral conducting and Sacred Music. I’ve been a professional musician for 35 years.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I always thought I would be a teacher. I have the heart of a guide, a mentor – – it is absolutely my favorite thing, to come alongside others and make sure they have everything they need to succeed.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would love to share a meal with Clara Schumann, to hear how she operated as an artist in a “man’s world”, how she supported her husband as a musician, then later in his illness, and how she dealt with her grief.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Anyone who has told me “You’ve got this”.
How is art a passion for you?
I was “caught” by music, at an early age. I heard it, I saw it, and I experienced it as a force for community. I never wanted to be without it.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We have always been at this – – quietly, loudly, vigilantly. There is a sisterhood of appreciation and support, and we act with patience and fortitude alongside out brother artists, many of whom freely express their admiration and trust for us and our work.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The arts in Atlanta is resilient and diverse, whether it is in visual art, traditional art, performance art, popular art, institutionally-driven art or individually-expressive art. This is a town ripe with art in all directions, from children’s groups to college organizations to community 501C3’s, to the professional organizations such as the booming movie and recording industries, great jazz creators, countless visual art centers, the strength of live theater, all the way to our award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We don’t just have to sit back and appreciate it, we can all be a part of it.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I have had the beautiful opportunity to provide a place where professional musicians have been able to mature their craft. As we have hired Staff Singers for 20 years, I have seen many of them “fly the coop”, going on to sing professionally in opera houses around the world. I have featured young virtuoso students on concert series, as they prepared to attend places like Julliard or Stanford. I want, more than anything, to create a musical home where young artists have a safe place to practice and grow, where they are musically appreciated and spiritually nurtured. Also, one of the most marvelous initiatives we’ve created is an annual Black History Concert, which grew from a simple concert of spirituals in 2016 into our 2020 concert, featuring a large-scale work by a living African American composer.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Go to peachtreechurch.com and also our YouTube Channel Peachtree Church Music