McDuffie Center for Strings expands to new building

The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer has been given an incredible opportunity to expand their facilities off campus.
During the first week of November, trustees of the Atlanta-based Robert W. Woodruff Foundation approved a $1.5 million grant to renovate the historic Bell House into a new home for the Center.
Amy Schwartz Moretti, the director of the Center, described the mansion as “a landmark, a historic gem in Macon. It has the magical ambience for a wonderful musical home.”
The current on-campus facility for the Center, McCorkle Music Building, also houses the entire Townsend School of Music.
“With over 125 students competing for the use of 16 practice rooms within McCorkle, it will create the much needed improvement of space for practice, lessons, and coachings,” explained Moretti.
The Center was established six years ago, with the dream in mind to eventually house the school in a beautiful historic building.
The Bell House, located at 315 College St., originally served as a private residence, then later served as a commercial building. It is an ideal location, not only for its majestic charm, but also because of its tall ceilings and large parlor, perfect for small concerts and master classes.
There will be plenty of teaching space for the 10 distinguished faculty members, as well as plenty of practice rooms for the students. The Center only holds 26 positions for students currently.
When the renovations are completed for the 2013 fall semester, the Center will be at full capacity with 12 violins, six violas, six celli and two bass players. Mattias Palm, a freshman music major from Lund, Sweden and one of the two bass players in the Center, shared his feelings about the new facility: “It brings me great pleasure that the Center is moving to the Bell House. McCorkle was already a full school, and the Center takes up a lot of space,” Palm said. “The new house is so beautiful and rustic that simply being in the house is enough to inspire the creative mind. My only thought of discomfort is that of the daily travel to and from the house, but the reward of being in the Bell House will outweigh the troubles that getting there will bring.”
The students will spend equal amounts of time at the house and on campus, as lessons, rehearsals and practices will take place at the new facility, and other classes will be at McCorkle and buildings on campus.
Mercer has received much support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in the form of the new University Center, as well as the new Science and Engineering Building. These new facilities for the athletic and science departments have opened up great opportunities for the university. The Bell House will create further opportunities, as this financial support is extended to the artistic branch of the university.
Moretti shared further excitement about the growth of the Center: “The McDuffie Center is all about developing the full musician, giving the student the opportunity to hone their talents and find their entrepreneurial spirit. I cannot be more grateful to the Woodruff Foundation for recognizing our passion and helping us achieve this dream!”