Sixteen exceptionally talented high school strings musicians from 10 states have been selected to participate in the Fifth Annual Robert McDuffie and Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings. The intensive five-day festival and musical-learning extravaganza takes place Sept. 3-7 at the Mercer University Townsend School of Music in Macon. The festival provides the students an opportunity to study at Mercer with world-renowned violinist and Distinguished University Professor of Music Robert McDuffie, as well as some of the nation’s foremost concert artists who serve as distinguished artists of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer.
The festival provides a preview of the academic offerings of the McDuffie Center, a highly selective program within Mercer’s Townsend School of Music that prepares strings students for success in the real world through an innovative approach to music training. While the center students study with some of the nation’s renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, they also earn an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university.
In addition to McDuffie, the following Distinguished Artists of the McDuffie Center will serve as faculty for the Festival: Amy Schwartz Moretti, director of the McDuffie Center and former concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony; Julie Albers, renowned soloist and chamber musician; David Halen, concertmaster, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Christopher Rex, principal cellist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Sabina Thatcher, principal violist, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Paul Murphy, associate principal violist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The students selected to participate in the McDuffie Labor Day Festival are Nicholas Bollinger of Haddonfield, N.J.; Jessica Fellows of Mounds, Okla.; Drew Forde of Peachtree City, Lily Handley-Taylor of Atlanta, Julia Henderson of Leonardtown, Md.; Brian Kim of Ellicott City, Md.; Ray Kim of Powder Springs; Leah Latorraca of Monona, Wis.; Benjamin Lo of Norcross; Levi Mitze of Dade City, Fla.; Mary Motschman of Marietta; Nora Scheller of St. Peter, Minn.; Cara Schlecker of Oak Park, Ill.; Matthew Sinno of Mansfield, Mass.; Caeli Smith of Philadelphia; and Nathan Watts of Oaklyn, N.J.
The application process required students to provide an audition CD and letters of recommendation. All students accepted to the festival receive a full scholarship, covering tuition, housing and meals.
Opening Concert by Faculty
The Artists Concert, scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 3, will feature the Festival faculty performing a variety of chamber music selections. The concert will be in Neva Langley Fickling Hall of the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s Macon campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission, free to Mercer faculty, staff and students. Tickets can be purchased through Mercer Ticket Sales at (478) 301-5470.
Festival Offers Free Concert
The Festival Concert, scheduled for 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 7, will feature the students performing classical chamber music selections in small ensembles and also performing alongside their master teachers in a string orchestra led by David Halen. The concert will be in Neva Langley Fickling Hall of the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s Macon campus. Seating is limited and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are available through Mercer Ticket Sales at (478) 301-5470.
Master Classes Open to the Public
The master classes will be free and open to the public for viewing. Students participating in the Festival perform solo pieces and receive instruction on stage in front of other class attendees from the distinguished artists and faculty leading the classes. Family, friends and the public are invited to attend these classes to watch the one-on-one training.
The master class schedule is as follows:
Friday, Sept. 4, 7-9 p.m.
Violin Master Class with Robert McDuffie, Fickling Hall
Cello Master Class with Julie Albers and Christopher Rex, McCorkle Room 120
Viola Master Class with Sabina Thatcher and Paul Murphy, McCorkle Room 110
Saturday, Sept. 5, 7-9 p.m.
Violin Master Class with Robert McDuffie and Amy Schwartz Moretti, Fickling Hall
(All master classes take place in the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s Macon campus.)
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