Middle GA locals can listen to world premiere of these London Symphony Orchestra recordings

Courtesy of Big Hair Productions

There’s an album preview party of a different sort at Capricorn Studios on April 11. That’s when folks in Middle Georgia can get a world-premiere first listen to recordings made last fall in England by the London Symphony Orchestra of Christopher Alan Schmitz’s “Violin Concerto” and Symphony No. 1.

Schmitz is a professor of music theory and composition at Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and wrote “Violin Concerto” for Mercer colleague and acclaimed concert violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti, who is director of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings.

Moretti is featured on the album in both pieces.

“I wrote ‘Violin Concerto’ as a musician-focused, artistic piece to amplify Amy’s talent and way of playing,” Schmitz said. “That means it’s written for a lot of emotion and technical virtuosity on her part. It’s in three movements with two being more technical showcasing her acrobatic, technical side and the other being a soft, lyrical, expressive movement that allows for that aspect of her playing. A lot has gone into this and we’re excited to share next Thursday at Capricorn.”

The record is being released May 10 by PARMA Recordings on its Navona Records label. Already, one movement of the concerto, Violin Concerto: III. Electric, is on PARMA’s YouTube channel.

With details still being planned, it appears the April 11 preview and reception will feature the album playing in the background while refreshments are served then a few select bits from the work will be heard in a more focused way. There will be remarks by those involved in the project as well.

Also, an extended teaser of a documentary related to the album’s creation will be shown. Produced by Tabitha Lynne Walker and Stephanie Shadden of Macon’s Big Hair Productions, the full documentary will be submitted to film festivals later this year. A student from the McDuffie Center, junior violin performance major River Sawchyn, traveled to assist Walker and Shadden with the documentary. Two public school students were selected to go as well, Northside Middle School eighth-grader Kaleigh Baker and Central High School senior Keaton Money.

Stefan Sanderling conducted the London Symphony and London Voices for the album.

As a composer and educator, Schmitz said he creates music with two different focuses, one primarily artistic and the other educational.

“Of the two outputs, the artistic pieces are larger scale and take a lot of shepherding to form,” he said. “The second, educational, is smaller and consists of pieces written for younger performers and ensembles. I enjoy writing both. Whether artistic or educational focused, each has to have a genuine musical idea behind it.

“When you come up with an idea, everything is a possibility. I like to make an analogy with creating visual art, particularly sculpting in clay. You start with an amorphous blob that has all this potential but you’re not exactly sure where it might go. You follow ideas, ask yourself questions and begin to see it take you somewhere. From that point, there’s the actual execution of writing the music, preparing the various parts and so on. In my experience, creativity is not linear or straightforward but comes in spurts. You ride the wave and work through the difficult moments.”

While “Violin Concerto” was written to showcase Moretti’s playing, Symphony No. 1 was born out of feelings Schmitz has in the current political climate.

“The story of the symphony is some of the angst I’ve felt with the political tension in the world,” he said. “I set out to write something to bring some beauty into it and some brutal ideas came out, too. The end of it is a prayer meant to reflect upon all of what has unfolded. It ends on a note of peace.”

Schmitz said the opportunity to travel and have Moretti and the London Philharmonic record his work has generated another Macon-centric feeling.

“It’s a feeling of gratitude at having so many involved, so many accomplished musicians, the Townsend School, the McDuffie Center and of course the Community Foundation of Central Georgia’s Josephine Phelps Fabian Fund which made it possible through their grant. Considering the project as a whole, it’s clear how important collaborating with others is and what can be accomplished when you have such a confluence of people working on something.”

He said the preview will be a celebration of the support and hard work that brought the music and album together.

Production credits for the album go to award-winning British producer Simon Kiln, who handled London aspects of the project, and Steve Moretti, Amy Schwartz Moretti’s husband. Kiln and Steve Moretti have worked together on previous projects. Steve Moretti is an accomplished drummer-percussionist, producer and founder of Macon Pops.

Steve Moretti called the results of the London project “epic” and had something to say about a Macon Pops concert that happens to be Friday at Middle Georgia State University.

“The theme is Macon Rocks and it’s going to be a whole bunch of rock and classic rock hits that people know and love,” he said. “Our regular Macon Pops musicians will be there and as special guests we’ve got the cream of the crop of LA musicians. There’s Grammy award-winning guitarist Andrew Synowiec who’s worked on countless Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning projects. There’s Kevin Axt on bass who’s worked in TV and film and toured and recorded with artists like Natalie Cole, The Manhattan Transfer, Shelby Lynne, Bernadette Peters, Carol King, Christopher and many more. Then there’s vocalist Nicole Kubis who’s done an equal range of work and has her own Andrews Sisters-inspired vocal trio, The Swing Kittens, plus singing for the past nine years with the Glenn Miller Orchestra under the direction of Rick Gerber.”

Steve Moretti said the show has something for everybody, including memorable hits from bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin, Toto, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, Chicago, Journey and The Beatles, to name a few.

He said gates open at 5 p.m. when families and others can come have a picnic and enjoy the concert’s lakeside setting before the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

More information and ticketing are at

The Schmitz-Moretti preview party begins at 6 p.m. April 11 at Mercer Music at Capricorn, 540 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. in Macon. Admission is free.

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at