MACON, Ga. — The search for the nation's best high school violinists, cellists and violists is nearing completion, as the application deadline approaches for the second annual Robert McDuffie & Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings. Applications and audition materials are due by Friday, May 19, for the four-day festival, which will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 4. The festival provides an exceptional opportunity for outstanding young string musicians to study with an elite group of concert artists in a strings immersion workshop.
The innovative program provides full scholarships covering tuition, housing and meals for 16 strings musicians to study in Macon, Ga., with Robert McDuffie, an internationally renowned concert violinist and distinguished university professor of music at Mercer University, as well as six master teachers. McDuffie developed the four-day course in collaboration with the Mercer music faculty and has designed an intense string festival to allow students both personal and group lessons that will advance them to a new level of music performance. In addition to their studies, the students will also have the opportunity to perform with the master teachers in several concerts. The festival is limited to high school juniors and seniors and is designed for those string musicians who have demonstrated exceptional talent and skill. Only 8 violinists, 4 cellists and 4 violists will be selected.
Robert McDuffie has been a soloist with many of the world's major orchestras and has been featured on NBC's "Today" show, "CBS Sunday Morning," PBS's "Charlie Rose," A&E's "Breakfast with the Arts," and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, has partnered with Mercer to advance the University's music program to one of conservatory quality, especially in the area of strings. In collaboration with the Mercer music faculty, he designed the Labor Day Festival for Strings and personally selected and invited five concert artists from across the nation to serve with him as master faculty for the event.
This year's visiting master faculty are: Andres Diaz, the renowned concert cellist and first prize winner of Naumburg International Competition; Paul Murphy, associate principal violist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; David Halen, concertmaster with the St. Louis Symphony; Christopher Rex, the principal cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Sabina Thatcher, principal violist with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Mercer master faculty member Dr. Nathan Cook, former principal cellist with the Houston Chamber Orchestra, will also offer his expertise to students. Cook is a graduate of Grinnell College, Colgate University and Rice University.
Applicants must submit a recommendation and evaluation from their music teacher and an audition CD. All of the selected participants will receive a full festival scholarship, covering tuition, housing and meals, from Mercer. Last year, 12 of the students were from Georgia, with others representing Washington, Oklahoma, South Carolina and New York.
Mercer University's music program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. This summer, Mercer will establish a new school of music, only the fourth such school in Georgia.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as regional academic centers in Henry County, Douglas County, Macon and Eastman. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 16 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South.