Robert McDuffie and Actress Anna Deavere Smith Highlight McDuffie Center Gala

Robert McDuffie and Actress Anna Deavere Smith Highlight McDuffie Center Gala on Feb. 21

January 28, 2015

Letter from a Birmingham JailMACON – World-renowned violinist Robert McDuffie and actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith will perform a program of words and music on Feb. 21, the highlight of grand opening festivities for the McDuffie Center for Strings' new home, the Bell House. The performance will be held at Macon's Beulahland Bible Church, one of the Southeast's most influential African-American churches.

"Letter from Birmingham Jail" will feature Ms. Smith, accompanied by McDuffie, reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s April 1963 letter. Smith will also portray other important figures from the Civil Rights movement.

"Words matter. Music heals. I want the Center for Strings to be not just 'the Juilliard of the South,' but more importantly, I want it to be a force for good," McDuffie said.

Smith is widely known for her television roles as national security adviser Nancy McNally in "The West Wing" and as hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus in the Showtime series "Nurse Jackie."She is a recipient of The MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant (1996), The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2013), and is currently artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.

The Feb. 21 performance will be free and open to the public, but is a ticketed event. A limited number of tickets are available at The Grand Opera House Box Office, 651 Mulberry Street. Tickets must be picked up in person Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., first-come, first-served, no reservations.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the program starting at 7:30 p.m. The 2,000-seat church is located at 1010 Newberg Avenue in Macon. For more information, call (478) 301-2886 or email crowe_pa@mercer.edu.

A special institute within Mercer's Townsend School of Music, the McDuffie Center for Strings has a new home in the Bell House, an important historic landmark located at 315 College Street. Its storied history began with Nathan Beall, who built the home in the Victorian style in 1855. The newly renovated space is perfectly suited to accommodate the Center's enrollment limit of 26 students, with dedicated practice rooms and teaching spaces on the second floor, and a 60-seat performance hall on the first floor.

Center Founder Robert McDuffie calls the Bell House "a magical and historical venue. It will be an inspirational home for the talented students of the Center as they continue their journey to becoming complete artists. The combination of classical music and the beauty of the Bell House will be a wonderful addition to Macon's historic district."

The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings

The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world.Students study with some of the nation's renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. The Center is a special institute within Mercer's Townsend School of Music on the Macon campus. Total enrollment is limited to 26 students: 11 violinists, six violists, six cellists and three double bassists. Every student has direct access to each distinguished artist during their regular monthly visits on campus, and will participate in private lessons, master classes, chamber music coaching sessions, and orchestral sectional work.

About Townsend School of Music

Mercer University's Townsend School of Music, the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. Townsend is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. The McDuffie Center, a special institute within Townsend School of Music, is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world. Students study with some of America's most renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. For more information and a complete listing of this season's concerts please visit www.mercer.edu/music, or call (478) 301-2748.

 

Meagan Evans
(478) 301-2933
evans_ml@mercer.edu