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

August 23, 2010

Media Contact:
Billie Rampley
(478) 301-2933

MACON — Sixteen exceptionally talented high school strings musicians from 13 states have been selected to participate in the Sixth Annual Robert McDuffie and Friends Labor Day Festival for Strings. The intensive musical-learning extravaganza takes place Sept. 2-6 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. The center’s unique program allows students to study with some of the nation’s renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while also earning 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: 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.

Selected Students
The students selected to participate in the McDuffie Labor Day Festival are Preston Barbare of Pelzer, S.C., viola; Lauren Benner of Magnolia, Texas, violin; Kallen Bierly of Columbus, violin; Julia Brandenburg of Warwick, R.I., violin; Kathryn Dark of Haddonfield, N.J., viola; Jessica Fellows of Mounds, Okla., violin; Sarah Harmsworth of Corvallis, Mont., violin; Zenas Han of Marietta, viola; Victor Huls of Jacksonville, Fla., cello; Sofia Kim of Granada Hills, Calif., violin; Leah Latorraca of Monona, Wis., violin; Olivia Pavco-Giaccia of Arlington, Va., cello; Grace Elizabeth Sommer of Marietta, cello; Sylvia Wehrs of Auburn, Ala., violin; Joel Wilkinson of Dalton, violin; and Shing Ann Yeh of Ellicott City, Md., cello.

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. 2, will feature the Festival faculty performing a variety of chamber music selections by Schubert, Arensky, and Piazzolla. 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 or online at music.mercer.edu.

Festival Offers Free Concert
The Festival Concert, scheduled for 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 6, 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. 3, 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. 4, 7-9 p.m.
Violin Master Class with Robert McDuffie and David Halen, Fickling Hall
 (All master classes take place in the McCorkle Music Building on Mercer’s Macon campus.)

Media interested in covering events at the Festival should contact Billie Rampley at (478) 301-2933 by Wednesday, Sept. 1. Due to the intimate setting of Fickling Hall, media are asked to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to concerts in order to set up without disturbing the audience or performers. 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 for 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 enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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