Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Catching up with Amy Schwartz Moretti

Amy Schwartz Moretti, the former concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony, is back in town to play a concert with orchestra this weekend. I talked with her over the phone about her schedule, the upcoming concert, and her work in Georgia at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University.

You've been here a few days, and you've already given a concert?

Yes, I played a benefit concert for the Astoria Music Festival at a gorgeous home in Astoria. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful. It was a perfectly clear day. I think that I have a falsified view of Astoria, because I've always had beautiful weather when I've been there.

With the Oregon Symphony, y ou'll be playing Chausson's "Poeme" and Tchaikovsky's "Valse-scherzo." Have you played these pieces before?

Yes but only with piano accompaniment. For the Chausson "Poeme," you really need an orchestra. When you the orchestra parts are reduced to piano, the piece is still beautiful, but you miss all of the lines that happen in an orchestra -- all of the various melodies. I'm excited to hear all of the color that the orchestra can give. It's all in one movement. I guess Chausson didn't want to write an entire violin concerto. So, I thought of something that would go well with it, and I picked the Tchaikovsky "Valse-scherzo."

The Tchaikovsky piece is pure pleasure. It's fun little piece with a lot of showy double stops, runs, and technical things for the violin. It was one of my mom's favorites.

So what is happening with your life and work in Georgia?

Steve and I have been back there four months, and we've been so busy that we still haven't unpacked everything. I'm doing much more traveling now to preform and see students. The Strings Center offers a great program with a terrific university education and real one-on-one attention. This is something that other schools can't offer. We'll have an incoming freshmen class with 8 to 10 students. They'll get a lot of individual help.

Every day in my new job at Mercer University is a challenge. There's always something new that I have to figure out. I'm enjoying the organizational aspect, but a lot of what I do is talk to students, parents, and other teachers across the country.

There are so many talented kids here in Portland, like Becky Anderson, and so many wonderful teachers. We're trying to establish conservatory-level training in the Southeast.

You recently played concerts in Martha's Vineyard and in Florida, and you'll be back in Portland in July to play with Chamber Music Northwest. What else will you be doing?

I'm looking forward playing at the Rome Chamber Music Festival, which is in Rome, Italy. Robert McDuffie is the music director. We intend to tie that festival in with the experience for students at the String Center. They will be building their connections and getting experience in the real world of performance.

Wow! I'm sure that a lot of potential students will give that offer serious consideration.

Yes, it will help to make our program even more competitive.

Good luck with your concert this weekend!


Amy Schwartz Moretti plays with the Oregon Symphony this weekend in her farewell concerts on April 21-23.

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