Album premiere party to highlight new Mercer, Macon musicians’ album with London Symphony Orchestra

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Album cover with mountains and trees

MACON — Townsend School of Music will celebrate the release of a world-premiere album, composed by faculty member Christopher Schmitz and featuring Robert McDuffie Center for Strings Director Amy Schwartz Moretti on violin, with a preview party at Mercer Music at Capricorn on April 11 at 6 p.m. 

This reception and program will be the first time to hear the brand-new “Symphony No. 1” and “Violin Concerto,” as well as an extended teaser of a documentary project filmed about the recording. The album will have its commercial release on the Navona Records label on May 10, with a single track from the violin concerto released on May 3.

The album was recorded overseas last fall with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices under conductor Stefan Sanderling at historic St. Luke’s Church. The documentary recounting the making of the project, produced by Tabitha Lynne Walker and Stephanie Shadden of Big Hair Productions, will be submitted to film festivals beginning in the summer or fall 2024.

Orchestra musicians can be seen at their seats with their instruments, in a large open venue with large windows behind them.
The London Symphony Orchestra prepares to play Dr. Christopher Schmitz’s musical pieces in London in late September. Photo courtesy Dr. Christopher Schmitz

The multifaceted project was made possible by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia’s Josephine Phelps Fabian Fund. 

The trip to record the album in London included junior violin performance major River Sawchyn, who assisted Big Hair Productions in the process of the documentary. A competitive process allowed Northside Middle School eighth-grader Kaleigh Baker and Central High School senior Keaton Money, accompanied by Bibb County School District orchestra director Jaris Tobler, to observe.

Schmitz, a professor of music theory and composition, noted that, “The story of the symphony is some of the angst I’ve felt with the political tension in the world. 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 that is meant to reflect upon all of what has unfolded. It ends on a note of peace.”

The violin concerto for the recording was written specifically for Schwartz Moretti, an internationally recognized concert violinist. “It’s a showpiece for her specific talents, with a lot of technical virtuosity,” explained Schmitz. 

Macon-based producer Steve Moretti led the project and initiated the transatlantic collaboration with award-winning producer Simon Kiln in anticipation of the trip to London. Kiln, who has 25 years of experience at Abbey Road Studios, has produced numerous projects with Moretti before and utilized his relationship with the LSO for the recording. Moretti himself describes the album as “epic.”

“Chris takes you on a journey. It’s accessible – he builds this arc of a story for an audience before tapering it off. Lots of moments have this film score quality about it,” said Moretti.

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited with RSVPs requested at this link.

Sheet music for “Symphony No. 1” and “Violin Concerto” will be available through Alias Press (an affiliate of Theodore Presser) this summer.