MACON – Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music will present a string orchestra concert free and open to the public at The Grand Opera House on Tuesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.

Grammy Award-winning conductor Ward Stare, who has been described as “inspiring musicians to impressive heights” by The New York Times, will lead the orchestra, with a diverse program to include the contemporary String by Jennifer Higdon, as well as Hadyn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. 

The concert will also include 2021 Mercer University Concerto Competition Winner Sara Scanlon on the cello. Currently a student at the McDuffie Center for Strings, Scanlon has been a featured soloist on NPR’s nationally broadcast program “From the Top” and is a sought-after solo and chamber musician who will soon be featured in the upcoming 2021 Rome Chamber Music Festival. 

Louise Barfield (Photo by Logan White)

During the orchestra concert, concert pianist Louise Barfield will be presented with the McDuffie Award, given to someone who has made significant contributions to culture in Middle Georgia. Barfield, a master’s graduate from The Juilliard School and double Fulbright Scholar, is an internationally-renowned performer and teacher who founded the concert hall Little Carnegie of the South in Macon.

Chuck Leavell, pianist for The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band, said of his teacher Barfield, “When she sat down at my piano, I nearly fell over backwards. She is an immaculate player. No doubt about it, she had a profound influence on my musical life.”

McDuffie Center for Strings Director Amy Schwartz Moretti noted, “Louise Barfield has been a force of good in our community, sharing music with everyone. She is an inspiration, and we are so pleased to honor her with this year’s McDuffie Award.”

Tickets do not need to be reserved in advance for the free concert. The Grand Opera House is operating at a reduced capacity with health and safety guidelines in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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 our website, or call (478) 301-2748.

Julia Rubens is the director of arts marketing at Mercer University, where she seeks to promote The Grand Opera House, McEachern Art Center, Tattnall Square Center for the Arts, Townsend School of Music and the McDuffie Center for Strings.