Mercer wordmark

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

August 18, 2008

Denise Cook
(478) 301-2933

For Concert Tickets:
Mercer Ticket Sales
(478) 301-5470

MACON, Ga., - Sixteen exceptionally talented high school strings musicians from eight states have been selected to participate in the fourth annual Robert McDuffie & Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings. Held at the Mercer University Townsend School of Music in Macon, Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 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, a highly selective program within Mercer’s Townsend School of Music 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 Neva Langley Fickling Hall of the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer's Macon campus. The Artists Concert, scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, will feature the Festival faculty performing a variety of chamber music selections.

The Festival Concert, scheduled for 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 1, will feature the students performing classical chamber music selections and also Mozart's Divertimento in D major, K136 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.

Master Classes Open to the Public
This year 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 for the first time in the Festival’s history to watch the one-on-one training.

The master class schedule is as follows:
Friday, Aug. 29, 7-9 p.m.
Violin Master Class with Robert McDuffie
The Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry Street, Downtown Macon 

Saturday, Aug. 30, 7-9 p.m.
Violin Master Class with Robert McDuffie and Amy Schwartz Moretti, Fickling Hall
Cello Master Class with Andres Diaz and Christopher Rex, McCorkle Room 120
Viola Master Class with Sabina Thatcher and Paul Murphy, McCorkle Room 110
(All Saturday classes take place in the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s Macon campus.)

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 Emily Brandenburg of Warwick, R.I.; Gabriel Cabezas of Wilmette, Ill.; Jennifer Edwards of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Alex Glaubitz of Falls Church, Va.; Alex Grimes of Alexandria, Va.; Lily Handley-Taylor of Atlanta, Ga.; Elizabeth Kitts of Tampa, Fla.; Mandy Milliot of Seminole, Fla.; Levi Mitze of Dade City, Fla.; Charlotte Nicholas of Haverford, Pa.; Tim Richardson of Roswell, Ga.; Nicole Schroeder of Grover, Mo.; Caeli Smith of Philadelphia, Pa.; Genevieve Tabby of Merion Station, Pa.; Sabrina Tabby of Merion Station, Pa.; and Nathaniel Wolkstein of Middleton, Wis.

For more information, visit

Media interested in covering events at the Festival should contact Denise Cook at (478) 301-2933 by noon., on Thursday, August 28. Due to the intimate setting of Fickling Hall, media are asked to arrive at least ten minutes prior to concerts. Media covering the master classes are welcome to attend at their convenience.

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, Atlanta and Savannah; three 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