MACON – The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings will present “McDuffie Loves Macon,” a free concert for the community that features performances by the students and world-class faculty artists, at The Grand Opera House on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. Featured artists include Macon native, McDuffie, violin; Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin; David Halen, violin; Rebecca Albers, viola; Julie Albers, cello; Kurt Muroki, double bass; Elizabeth Pridgen, piano; Steve Moretti, percussion; and the McDuffie Center String Ensemble. The one-hour event is free and open to the public. Children ages 5 and older are welcome to attend. For more information call (478) 301-5470 or visit TheGrandMacon.com.
“McDuffie Loves Macon” takes the place of The Robert McDuffie and Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings, which began as a way to introduce the best high school string students from across the country to Mercer and the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, a conservatory program of Townsend School of Music. In past years, 16 students selected through auditions traveled to the Macon campus for the four-day festival of concerts, workshops and master classes with some of the top string musicians in the world who serve as the Center’s faculty artists. More than 30 percent of those students later chose to study at the Center. On the fifth-year anniversary of the event, the Center has reached capacity, with an ensemble of 26 of the top string students from around the world. In a remarkably short time the Center has earned a reputation for excellence within the music world for the caliber of its students, its rigorous academic program and for its distinguished faculty.
“We’re incredibly excited,” said Center founder McDuffie, who thought it would take at least 10 years to realize the growth from six students in 2007, to its goal of 26. “Now, we only have slots for a few new students each year and we are known for having some of the top teachers from throughout the world.”
“I knew the Center was going to be something great, so in a way it doesn’t surprise me where we are now,” said Schwartz Moretti, distinguished violinist and director of the Center since its inception. “But in another way it is truly mind-blowing how quickly we have become a highly sought-after string program.”
The Labor Day Festival has always included concerts that were open to the community. This year, it will shift from a recruitment-focused festival to a single, free concert for the community. “Bring your family and experience the finest young talent in the country playing their hearts out in a program of American favorites,” said McDuffie. This opportunity for students to perform with professionals is a hallmark of the Center and another reason string students from around the world are taking notice.
Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music, the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. Townsend is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. The McDuffie Center, a special institute within Townsend School of Music, is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world. Students study with some of America’s most renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. For more information and a complete listing of this season’s concerts please visit mercer.edu/music/ or call (478) 301-5751.