MCDUFFIE CENTER FOR STRINGS AT MERCER UNIVERSITY PARTNERS WITH MUSICIANS FROM THE ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TO CREATE NEW REGIONAL ORCHESTRA AND EXPAND INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED CURRICULUM

ORCHESTRA TO FEATURE MCDUFFIE CENTER STUDENTS AND ASO WIND, BRASS AND PERCUSSION PLAYERS PERFORMING WORKS BY A WIDE RANGE OF CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS

LANDMARK PARTNERSHIP SUPPORTED BY A GRANT FROM THE PEYTON ANDERSON FOUNDATION

The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings in Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music in Macon, Georgia and musicians from the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announce today a landmark partnership forming a regional U.S. orchestra in Central Georgia and expanding the visionary curriculum of the distinguished music school. Supported by a five-year, $300,000 grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation, 13 members of the ASO’s woodwind, brass and percussion sections—including all principal woodwind and brass players—will mentor and perform with the 26 McDuffie Center students.

The new orchestra—to be called The Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra and made up of musicians from the ASO and McDuffie Center students—will re-establish a top-tier regional American orchestra in Macon, where the Macon Symphony ended its 41-year run in 2017. It will be conducted by Mercer Distinguished Artist Ward Stare, with two fall performances and two spring performances each year beginning this fall at Macon’s Grand Opera House. Repertoire will include standard pieces by essential classical composers, as well as work by a wide range of contemporary composers from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the true breadth and depth of symphonic music today.

Noted for its unique pairing of an intensive conservatory experience with a business-focused liberal arts curriculum to prepare extraordinary musicians for the entrepreneurial world of 21st century performance, the McDuffie Center aims to provide its students with access to some of the most distinguished faculty in the world while also providing that faculty the chance to work with some of the world’s finest young musicians.

“This unique combination of conservatory-level students and elite professional musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will place Macon at the very top of American regional orchestras,” said Center for Strings Founder Robert McDuffie. “We also believe this will place Mercer firmly in the ranks of the top university orchestras in the country—and benefit our students with performance and learning opportunities they simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.”

“A partnership with musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra continues the McDuffie Center students’ education in, and exposure to, orchestral music,” said Dr. David Keith, dean of the Townsend School of Music. “This is important because musical selections played by strings students are typically solo or chamber pieces. Having students work with larger orchestral pieces offers invaluable lessons—both in playing new musical selections and in benefiting from shared experiences learned by playing with a group containing more than stringed instruments. This will also provide opportunities for the winds and brass students in the School of Music to be mentored by some of the leading orchestral players in the country.”

“I was so excited when the McDuffie Center launched its acclaimed music conservatory program,” said Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinetist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. “I am thrilled to be part of an elite program right here in Georgia that is available to the student wishing to pursue a career in performance of great orchestral music.”

“After experiencing a memorable performance of Copland’s Appalachian Spring on last year’s Fabian Concert Series featuring two of the principal wind players of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, I look forward to more concerts with these wonderful performers and collaborators sitting and playing alongside the young artists of the McDuffie Center,” said Amy Schwartz Moretti, McDuffie Center director and Caroline Paul King Chair in Strings. “What an incredible opportunity for Mercer, Macon and the McDuffie Center young artists!”

“The Peyton Anderson Foundation is pleased to partner again with Mercer University in a continued commitment to creating music in Macon,” said Foundation President, CEO and Trustee Karen Lambert. “This collaboration fills a void in our local arts and culture scene, returns life to the symphony stage and creates a premier performance opportunity in Georgia.”

ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS PERFORMING WITH THE MACON-MERCER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet
Andrew Brady, Principal Bassoon
Kim Gilman, Horn
Marci Gurnow, Clarinet
Laura Najarian, Bassoon
Sam Nemec, Oboe
Jaclyn Rainey, Principal Horn
Todd Skitch, Flute
Christina Smith, Principal Flute
Stuart Stephenson, Principal Trumpet
Liz Tiscione, Principal Oboe
Mike Tiscione, Associate Principal Trumpet
Mark Yancich, Principal Timpani

ABOUT TOWNSEND SCHOOL OF MUSIC & ROBERT MCDUFFIE CENTER
FOR STRINGS


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 www.mercer.edu/music, or call (478) 301-2748.

ABOUT MERCER UNIVERSITY

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With more than 9,000 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school sites in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer is affiliated with five teaching hospitals—Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; The Medical Center, Navicent Health, and Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon; and Midtown Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is one of only 286 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. http://www.mercer.edu.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Schimpf at Sacks & Co., 212.741.1000

Kyle Sears at Mercer University, 478.301.4037