Robert McDuffie Center for Strings Organizes Evening of Music and Spoken Word to Address Local Racial Issues


MACON – The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, a special institute within Mercer University's Townsend School of Music, presents “What Color is Your Brother? An Exploration of Race Through Words and Music” on Saturday, Feb. 27. The free, community performance will take place at The Grand Opera House in Macon.

Featuring world-renowned violinist and Center founder Robert McDuffie, the Mercer University Orchestra and Theatre Macon's Youth Actors Company, the performance will combine classical music with a documentary play written specifically for the event.

In an attempt to address local racial issues with a powerful pairing of words and music, the evening will close with a panel and audience discussion. The audience will have the opportunity to submit questions for the panel at the end of the performance.

In February 2015, the groundbreaking pairing of actress/activist Anna Deavere Smith and McDuffie at Beulahland Bible Church explored the issue of race in Macon to a crowd of over 3,000 people. McDuffie seeks to continue that conversation with February's performance.

“It's important to continue the conversation on race in Macon. Beulahland was special, but it was not a one-and-done event. I believe artists have a particular responsibility to address major issues in ways politicians and civic and religious leaders cannot. Words matter. Music heals,” said McDuffie.

Young actors from Theatre Macon's Youth Actors Company will portray five local personalities in the documentary play, directed by Jim Crisp.

“These words, thoughts and ideas being expressed through young voices will make the audience really listen to what these local politicians and activists have to say,” said Crisp.

Respected journalist and music critic Mark Mobley was asked by McDuffie to write “What Color is Your Brother?” late last year.

“I've known Mark for 25 years,” said McDuffie. “He's one of the most respected minds in the music world and longtime producer of NPR's 'Performance Today.' He's a son of the South and knows my voice. He was the perfect person for this project.”

After poring over hundreds of hours of film and transcripts, Mobley settled on five voices to represent Macon: Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert, Commissioner Elaine Lucas, Coroner Leon Jones, local pastor and academic coordinator of Mercer's Upward Bound program Dominique Johnson and executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Georgia Susanna Patterson.

“Racial problems aren't unique to Macon, but Macon is uniquely positioned to do something about it – the strength of its churches, the goodwill of most Maconites, and yes, a thriving arts community,” said McDuffie. “Add Mercer University with its strong sense of purpose for the community, and you have a powerful formula for good.”

“What Color is Your Brother? An Evening of Music and Spoken Word” is a free, ticketed event. Tickets can be picked up at The Grand Opera House box office, located at 651 Mulberry Street in downtown Macon. For more information, contact the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at (478) 301-2886.

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) 301-2748.