McDuffie Center student recognized as rising classical music star in Canada

student standing in a city holds a violin
Mercer University student River Sawchyn has been recognized as one of 2023's “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.” Photo courtesy River Sawchyn

A Mercer University student has been recognized as one of this year’s “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.” 

Twenty-year-old River Sawchyn, a violinist in the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, was named to the list, which is published annually by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. 

“Everyone on the list every year has gone on to have a great career,” said Sawchyn, a rising junior from Winnipeg, Canada. “I’ve really admired everyone I’ve ever read on the list, so it was very, very exciting to also have that honor myself.” 

Amy Schwartz Moretti, director of the McDuffie Center, said she is proud of Sawchyn’s accomplishments at Mercer, both on and off his violin. 

“This latest honor from the CBC is a testament to his hard work and dedication. It is nice to be recognized and to realize that he is among the top of this next generation of artists,” she said. “Not only is he a great student academically, but he also continues to push himself to be the best violinist possible.” 

Sawchyn grew up around music, and his parents have backgrounds in playing violin and guitar. 

“They really brought me up going to rock shows and pop shows and folk shows,” he said. “I’m also a fiddle player as well as a classical player, so that kind of eclectic musical upbringing really contributed to what I do today.”

students hold their instruments in front of a white-columned house
McDuffie Center students, from left, Caitlyn Dillard, River Sawchyn, Manou Chakravorty and Isaac Lopez, are pictured in front of the Bell House in Macon. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

At Mercer, Sawchyn is majoring in violin performance and pursuing a certificate in composition at the School of Music. In the spring, he and a fellow McDuffie Center student, bassist Moa Glimberg, organized a student composition recital. 

“We got another student composer, Elizabeth Aoki, on board, so there were three of us, and we all contributed about two pieces as well as collaboratively wrote a piece for the concert itself to create a professional full-length program,” Sawchyn said. “It was a lot of work, but it was super fun and super rewarding.” 

In April, he and Glimberg released an EP, Cycles & Stars, which was recorded in October 2022 at Mercer Music at Capricorn’s Capricorn Sound Studios. They both wrote and performed on the album. 

“It was so, so cool to rehearse my music and also record it in a professional studio and experience what the pros do when they go into a recording session,” Sawchyn said. “It was a grueling straight six hours of playing and rehearsing and pumping it out. It turned out very, very well, and we’re very proud of it.” 

Sawchyn plans to continue playing violin and hopes to have a composing career, possibly in TV or movies. 


Do you have a story idea or viewpoint you'd like to share with The Den?
Get in touch with us by emailing or submitting this online form.