Born in the suburbs of Wilmington, Del., Fred A. Holland was educated in the public schools. Although the school district had an active arts programs, the schools did not generally teach stringed instruments. His mother insisted that Fred, his brother and sister take piano lessons and be exposed to one other instrument, prompting him to play violin for a few years, taught by a Suzuki-trained teacher.
Baseball was his early passion, although Holland was in plays and sang in his elementary and junior high school choirs. One junior high choral director programmed a variety of music from Palestrina to the Fifth Dimension.
"I can recite a good bit of the Declaration of Independence because we sang The Fifth Dimension's musical setting of the Declaration," Holland said.
Fred A. Holland
It was in high school that Holland became more passionate about the arts, thanks to his baseball coach. The school had been open for five years so it was decided it was time to present a play. In order to lure some of the baseball players into auditioning, "Damn Yankees" was selected.
After being cast as one of the baseball players, Holland said, "I was hooked on musicals, which was an art form that I had not appreciated."
In his senior year, Holland was cast as Finian in "Finian's Rainbow," and returned to his high school for an alumni production of "The Pajama Game."
Although not successful in auditioning for plays at the University of Delaware, Holland sang in the college's choir for four years.
While attending law school at The College of William and Mary, he saw an audition notice for summer employment at Busch Gardens. Holland knew one of satirist Tom Lehr's tunes, "When You Are Old and Gray," because he was singing with an a cappella group called The Supreme Quarter Notes. But before auditioning, he had to whip up a piano arrangement. Holland was chosen and for two summers, performed as a singer and dancer at Das Festhaus, the big beer hall in the German section of the park.
Performing in Williamsport
After moving to Williamsport, performing took a back seat to establishing a law practice and raising his daughter.
Once she was enrolled in college, Holland got back to performing, and was accepted into the Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra, followed by other opportunities, including Gary Boerckel's biannual Requiem Mass at St. Boniface Church, and Ally Landon's Choral Evensongs at Christ Church Episcopal and the Williamsport Civic Chorus.
Recently, Holland got to perform on local stages, first cast as the Sergeant of the Police in the "Pirates of Penzance" presented by the Williamsport Civic Chorus. And last fall, he played Amos ("Mr. Cellophane") in the Community Theatre League's "Chicago" and is currently rehearsing as part of the ensemble for CTL's "Hello Dolly!"
One of the scenes involves a polka contest "... which I should win since I danced the polka for six shows a day during my summers at Busch Gardens. But you will have to see 'Hello Dolly!' to see how this polka contest turns out," Holland said.
Arts in the area
Holland believes that the area is fortunate to have a vibrant arts community that encompasses Lycoming County and surrounding areas.
"I am fortunate to participate, not only as a performer, but also by volunteering time as a Board member and lawyer for arts organizations, helping to incorporate Coalition of Independent Artists and Artisans, The Billtown Blues Association, the Williampsort Chamber Choir and Orchestra and the Wiliamsport City Jazz Orchestra," he said.
"I think that our arts organizations do a pretty good job of collaborating; however, I think over the next few years, funding challenges are going to require people in the arts to work better together."