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High School Musicians to Perform with Top Strings Artists
at McDuffie Labor Day Festival

August 21, 2007

Denise Cook
(478) 301-2933

MACON, Ga., - Seventeen exceptionally talented high school strings musicians from 13 states have been selected to participate in the third annual Robert McDuffie & Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings. Held at the Mercer University Townsend School of Music in Macon, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, the intense five-day festival and musical learning extravaganza will provide the students an opportunity to study at Mercer with world-renowned violinist and Distinguished University Professor of Music Robert McDuffie and some of the nation’s foremost concert artists who also 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, which officially enrolled its first class of freshmen this fall semester. The McDuffie Center is a highly selective program that prepares string 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; Andrés Diaz, renowned concert cellist; David Halen, Concertmaster, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Christopher Rex, Principal Cellist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Sabina Thatcher, Principal Violist, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Paul Murphy, Associate Principal Violist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. 

Festival Offers Two Free Concerts

The McDuffie Labor Day Festival will include two public concerts in the Neva Langley Fickling Hall of the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer's Macon campus. The Inaugural Concert, scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 30, will feature the Festival faculty performing a variety of chamber music selections, including Faure’s Piano Quartet in c minor, Moszkowski’s Suite for two violins and piano, Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet, and a fun arrangement of Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy featuring a few of the McDuffie Center’s cello students alongside Diaz and Rex.

The Festival Concert, scheduled for 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 3, will feature the students performing classic chamber music and also Grieg’s Holberg Suite for String Orchestra alongside their master teachers.

Seating is limited, so tickets are required for admission. The free tickets are available through Mercer Ticket Sales at (478) 301-5470. 

Selected Students

The application process required students to provide an audition tape or CD and letters of recommendation. All students accepted to the Fall Festival receive a full scholarship, covering tuition, housing and meals.

The students selected to participate in the McDuffie Labor Day Festival are Becky Anderson of Portland, Ore.; Ji Hye Chung of Suwanee, Ga.; Emma Dansak of Auburn, Ala.; Jennifer Edwards of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Santino Ellis-Perez of Cincinnati, Ohio; Sara Gabalawi of Havertown, Pa.; Alex Grimes of Alexandria, Va.; Holly Jenkins of House Springs, Mo.; Siwoo Kim of Westerville, Ohio; Mitchell Lyon of Narberth, Pa.; Ryan Meehan of Winnetka, Ill.; Amanda Milliot of Seminole, Fla.; Karl Mitze of Dade City, Fla.; Evan Perry of Somerset, Mass.; Taya Ricker of Asheville, N.C.; Danielle Rossbach of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Nathaniel Wolkstein of Middleton, Wis.

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About Townsend School of Music
Mercer is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music. Mercer’s Townsend School of Music and the Townsend-McAfee Institute Graduate Studies in Church Music offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. The School is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities and is home to the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit