McDuffie Center for strings receives grant to fund new Macon symphony orchestra

Man stands at podium

Macon will once again have a symphony orchestra, thanks to a five-year, $300,000 Peyton Anderson Foundation grant that will fund a collaboration between the world-renowned Robert McDuffie Center for Strings in Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The announcement was made today by Mercer President William D. Underwood at Macon’s historic Grand Opera House.

The new orchestra — to be called The Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra — will re-establish a top-tier regional American orchestra in Macon, where the Macon Symphony ended its 41-year run in 2017. The closure left not only a void for McDuffie Center students who previously played with the orchestra, but also for the Middle Georgia community. Without the MSO, local residents interested in orchestral music have had to travel to Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus or outside the state to access a season of live performances.

The Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Mercer Distinguished Artist Ward Stare, and annual spring and fall performances will take place beginning in the fall of 2021 at The Grand Opera House. Repertoire will include standard pieces by essential classical composers, as well as work by a wide range of contemporary composers from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the true breadth and depth of symphonic music today.

Thirteen members of the ASO’s woodwind, brass and percussion sections — including all principal woodwind and brass players — will mentor and perform with the 26 Center students.

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