McDuffie Announces Expansion of Center Program, Will Perform Feb. 18

The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, a special institute within the Townsend School of Music, will expand its program in the 2009-2010 academic year and is now accepting bass student applications for the fall. The Center has openings for two bass students, and auditions to fill the spaces will be held Feb. 21.


To accommodate the program expansion, two world-renowned double bassists have been named to the faculty of the McDuffie Center to serve as Distinguished Artists. Eugene Levinson, principle bassist for the New York Philharmonic, and Kurt Muroki, distinguished professor at The Juilliard School, will join the faculty of the McDuffie Center for the 2009-2010 academic year.


Levinson is a world-class soloist and has served as Principal Bass of the New York Philharmonic since May 1985, in addition to being one of the foremost double bass teachers in the world.


“Eugene has reached the zenith of his profession,” Robert McDuffie said. “He is the principal bassist of the world’s greatest symphony orchestra.  His dedication to education and to the mission of the McDuffie Center for Strings will continue to keep the Center at the forefront of American music education.”


Muroki is a renowned concert and studio double bassist and has won numerous competitions including first prize in the Aspen Music Festival double bass competition, the first bassist to win the New World Symphony concerto competition, and the Honolulu Symphony Young Artists competition. He is also currently the double bass teacher at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Stony Brook University, and the New Jersey City University.


“Kurt is one of America’s most respected and successful double bassists,” McDuffie said, “encompassing a career that focuses on solo performances as well as regular Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and other world-renowned cultural organizations.”


In addition, McDuffie Center pianist Elizabeth Pridgen has been named Distinguished Artist and Piano Chair of the McDuffie Center. Praised for her “big piano presence” by American Record Guide, Pridgen has distinguished herself as a soloist and chamber musician.

“We are delighted and so fortunate to have Elizabeth as part of our team,” McDuffie said. “Elizabeth is one of America’s great young pianists, and she will be an integral part of the mission of the Center through her chamber music coaching and her own riveting musical personality.”


Prior to holding 2009 auditions, McDuffie will be featured in concert during his February visit to the Center. McDuffie will perform several solo pieces for violin, as well as collaborate with some of the Center’s Distinguished Artists and students to perform pieces by Bach, Stravinsky, Vivaldi and others. The concert will culminate with McDuffie and the Center Orchestra performing Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat major, Op. 20. The concert is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Fickling Hall on Mercer’s Macon campus. Tickets are required for admission and are $25 for the general public or free with a Mercer ID. Public and free tickets are available through Mercer Ticket Sales at (478) 301-5470. To purchase tickets online, visit or


The program will be repeated on Thursday, Feb. 20, at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.


For more information about the McDuffie Center or the upcoming concert, contact Patty Crocker in the Townsend School of Music at (478) 301-2748 or

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