McDuffie Center String Student Wins International Competition


MACON, Ga. – Mercer University sophomore SiHao He, a student in the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, was awarded the grand prize in the Third Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition, held Nov. 22-30, in Hachioji, Japan. This year's competition had more than 300 applicants. He successfully navigated the first two competition stages during the past week, and in the final round of the competition over the weekend, finalists including He performed a concerto with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yamashita Kazufumi. 

“SiHao continues to demonstrate greatness wherever he performs,” said Amy Schwartz Moretti, director of the McDuffie Center for Strings and the Caroline Paul King Violin Chair in Mercer's Townsend School of Music. “We are extremely proud of him and know he represents himself, the McDuffie Center and Mercer University well.”

“I'm thrilled for SiHao,” said Robert McDuffie, Center founder, Distinguished University Professor and Mansfield and Genelle Jennings Chair. “He's extraordinarily gifted. I'm also grateful for his primary teachers, Julie Albers and Hans Jensen. All of us at the Center are happy that he is receiving the international recognition his talent so richly deserves.”

Earlier this year, He was awarded the grand prize at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) solo competition that was held in New York City. Three students from the McDuffie Center for Strings were selected as finalists in that competition. Violinist Shin Jung Lee and cellists Riana Anthony and He were selected from string students from throughout the country for the prestigious competition.

The Gaspar Cassado International Competition is named after one the greatest cellists in the 20th century, Gaspar Cassado (1897-1966). The first competition was held in 1969 in Florence, Italy. Founders include the late Chieko Hara (1914-2001), Cassado's wife and also a pioneering Japanese pianist. The competition produced numerous internationally renowned cellists including Mischa Maisky, Noboru Kamimura and Kaeko Mukoyama.

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, visit, or call (478) 301-5751.

J. Cindy Hill
(478) 301-2933

Kyle Sears
(478) 301-4037