The idea popped up in a conversation over coffee a few months ago.
Would a pops orchestra work in Macon?
Grammy-nominated percussionist Steve Moretti discussed the notion with his longtime collaborator, Grammy-winning arranger Matt Catingub, after the two performed at the Cox Capitol Theatre in February. They already created similar pops orchestras in Hawaii and Glendale, Calif.
“We had done this around the world,” said Morretti, whose wife, Amy Schwartz Moretti, directs the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music. “Why not start the Macon Pops? We’re having a cultural renaissance here. It’s something I can do where I live. ... The response was overwhelming. There was a lot of support for it. So we decided, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ ’’
“It made some sense,” Catingub said. “Macon’s music history is well-documented.”
Catingub and Moretti made the announcement Monday that the Macon Pops launch its inaugural three-concert series Oct. 26 at the Macon City Auditorium.
That show will be titled “Dancing Through the Decades,” and will feature Big Band music from the 1930s to modern day, ranging from Glenn Miller to Carlos Santana.
After that, the Macon Pops will perform a holiday-themed show Dec. 7 featuring local choirs as well as Macon hip-hop star Floco Torres, followed by a country music-themed show March 1 with special guest JoDee Messina.
Catingub, who created the soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated motion picture “Good Night and Good Luck,” said the pops orchestras he and Moretti put together contain no more than 40 musicians, all of whom are brought together for a single rehearsal the day of the concert.
“It may sound scary, but that’s why they are professional musicians,” he said. “Because they can do it.”
Local officials think the pops orchestra could be a boon to Macon on the cultural and tourism scenes.
“It’s enormously significant,” Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said. “No one else in Middle Georgia can you find this kind of cultural opportunity. This was brought to us -- it was dropped in our laps. ... It’s unbelievable. It’s enormous.”
Monica Smith, president and CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the Macon Pops should be a draw from across the region and the state, especially since it fits in with the agency’s theme of “Song and Soul of the South.”
“The thing I like about it, since we’re focused on being regional, is that it’s bringing in world-renowned talent,” she said.
“That really appealed to me. The thing with quality music is that it’s another opportunity to attract people and to entertain potential clients.”
Moretti said the endeavor already has seen local support; an anonymous donor will match dollar-for-dollar anything raised by the community, up to $50,000.
During the news conference, Moretti and Catingub, along with bassist Chris Riggenbach of Atlanta, entertained those in attendance with performances of “Jeepers Creepers” and “Watermelon Man.”