McDuffie Center Cellist Wins National Competition


Not only were three students from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer's Townsend School of Music selected as finalists in the American String Teachers Association national solo competition, but one was awarded the grand prize. Violinist Shin Jung Lee and cellists Riana Anthony and SiHao He were among the 12 finalists selected from throughout the country for this prestigious competition. He was awarded the grand prize at the competition finals that were held at Merkin Hall in the Kauffman Center in New York City on April 6-8.

“For string musicians, winning the grand prize at ASTA is like winning the Heisman Trophy or the NCAA tournament,” said Amy Schwartz Moretti, director of the Center for Strings andthe Caroline Paul King Violin Chair at Mercer. “It is always meaningful to be acknowledged like this by fellow musicians who are aware of the work and dedication necessary to achieve a great performance, but it is even more so because our program is only six years old.”

Mercer was the only institution to have three finalists in the 12-member Senior String division. Other schools represented include the University of North Texas with two finalists; and Curtis Institute, Juilliard, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College, New England Conservatory and Yale University with one finalist each. The finalist from the Curtis Institute participated in the Robert McDuffie Labor Day Festival for Strings and is a former student of Schwartz Moretti.

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, visit