Robert McDuffie Center for Strings Faculty Artists, Student Musicians to Headline 11th Annual Rome Chamber Music Festival


MACON – Distinguished faculty artists and student musicians from Mercer University's Robert McDuffie Center for Strings will travel to Rome, Italy, to headline the 2014 Rome Chamber Music Festival, June 8-12.

The five-day festival, entering its 11th season, was started by Center for Strings founder and internationally renowned violinist Robert McDuffie in 2003. One of Rome's most anticipated cultural events, this year it boasts over 30 renowned musicians from across the globe who will perform both classical and contemporary pieces.

Concerts will be held in the Salone Pietro da Cortona in the Palazzo Barberini, which was completed in 1633, and was purchased by the Italian State in 1949. The Palazzo Barberini is also home to the National Gallery of Antique Art, which houses a collection including works by Raphael and Caravaggio, among others.

“The Rome Chamber Music Festival allows students in the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings to play on the world stage,” said Dr. C. David Keith, dean of the University's Townsend School of Music. “In the past years, students from Mercer have captivated the audiences with their musicianship and outstanding interpretive skills. Participating in the festival provides our students a once-in-a-lifetime experience of performing in the breathtakingly beautiful Gran Salone Pietro da Cortona in the Palazzo Barberini and becomes a highlight of their Mercer experience.”

Distinguished faculty artists who will perform include McDuffie, violin; and Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin, who serves as Caroline Paul King Chair and director of the McDuffie Center.

Students and alumni who will perform include Cara Schlecker, violin; Leah Latorraca, violin; Drew Alexander Forde, viola; Noah Fields, viola; Rogerio Shieh, cello; Sihao He, cello; Collin Turner, violin; and Taylor Yasui, cello.

“The Rome Chamber Music Festival serves as an incredible opportunity for up to 10 Mercer students to go abroad, study a chamber music work intensely, interact with other musicians from all over the world, play and hear concerts and enjoy the culture of Italy. That one week usually is a real highlight of their summer activities,” said Moretti.

The Rome Chamber Music Festival is endorsed by the Embassies of the United States of America to Italy and to the Holy See, as well as the City of Rome and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. After six years of sold-out performances at the Gonfalone Oratory, the festival made its debut at the prestigious Palazzo Barberini in 2012. The 17th century Palazzo, designed by the great Baroque artists Maderno, Borromini and Bernini, is located on the Quirinal Hill, the tallest of Rome's famed seven hills. Concerts are held in the Palazzo Barberini's splendid Gran Salone under Pietro da Cortona's exquisite ceiling fresco, The Triumph of Divine Providence, painted in 1642. The sumptuous surroundings, combined with exceptional acoustics, make it an inviting space for chamber music in Rome.

“I came to Rome on sabbatical in the fall of 2002. I discovered a true passion for the world's most beautiful city, and it was then that I started dreaming of inviting the world's greatest musicians to perform in the spectacular and historical venues that can be found in the Eternal City,” said McDuffie. “The festival includes at least one work of an American composer each year, but its identity adheres to a true international ideal by inviting musicians from all over the world.”

For more information, visit

About Townsend School of Music

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 or call (478) 301-5751.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​