Flint, 70, has spent the past 35 years as the music director for the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, 39 years as the orchestra’s staff conductor and 47 years as a cellist.
A native of Freeport, N.Y., he started playing the cello when he was 10. Flint earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and a master’s degree in music from the University of Washington in Seattle.
“I came to Atlanta because that’s where the job was right out of school,” the Marietta resident said. “I came here planning to spend a couple years and have been here ever since.”
Flint said it has been interesting to watch the growth of the orchestra over the years.
“When I came, the orchestra was a part-time orchestra back in 1967, so one of the milestones was it becoming really a full-time, professional orchestra (in 1968),” he said.
“It’s certainly grown in stature, first of all in Atlanta and then nationwide and it certainly has a worldwide reputation now.”
There have been a lot of momentous events throughout his career, he said, from touring around the country and Europe to being a part of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“Playing for the Olympics was really a tremendous thrill both for the orchestra and for the youth orchestra that played the closing ceremonies,” Flint said.
Other memorable times include playing for celebrities, such as Tony Bennett, during concerts at the Chastain Park Amphitheater in Buckhead and the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, he said.
Flint said he has also enjoyed watching his students in the youth orchestra grow up over the years. It includes about 120 musicians ages 13 to 18.
Colleague and longtime friend David Arenz, the orchestra’s principal second violinist, said Flint’s experience as a musician gave him an advantage when it came to conducting the orchestra.
“Since he was a musician in the orchestra, he knew what he would like standing in front of him as a conductor when he was playing,” Arenz said. “So he tried to imitate that. … He didn’t make (rehearsal) a chore for us. He tried to make it as much fun as possible.”
Flint said he hopes to spend his retirement playing more golf and traveling.
“I’ll still keep my hand a little bit in music,” he said. “I’ll probably do a few conducting gigs here and there.”
Jere Flint’s last concerts at Symphony Hall are Thursday through Sunday. His last local concert performing as a cellist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will be June 28 at 8 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, 2200 Encore Parkway in Alpharetta. For more information, visit www.atlantasymphony.org