Exciting opportunities continue for the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer’s Townsend School of Music.
Students from all over the country applied to compete in the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) national solo competition. Of the limited 12 finalist positions in the Senior String division, three Center students were selected to participate in the final round in New York City, April 6-8.
Out of the represented schools, Mercer had the most finalists. Shin Jung Lee, a violinist, and Riana Anthony and SiHao He, cellists, will be competing against two North Texas finalists, and students from seven other well-known institutions including Curtis Institute, Julliard, Cincinnati Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College, New England Conservatory and Yale University.
For entry into the national round, each participant was required to submit an audition video recording for evaluation and consideration in their intended instrument division.
Divisions range from Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Harp and Guitar.
The finalists will prepare to perform live in April for a distinguished panel of judges, who will select winners from each instrument category and age division. Each Senior Division winner will receive $1,000, and each Junior Division winner will receive $500.
The grand prize winner selected from the division winners will receive $5,000.
The Center musicians are competing in the Senior Division, which is open to college students.
Finalists are preparing approximately 20 minutes of music, including one piece required from all contestants, and two pieces of their own choosing.
SiHao He, a freshman cello performance major, shared his expectations for the competition, “The best thing I can do to prepare is practice hard. On the day of the competition I will play as I usually do, expressing my best music to the judges. I regard it as a performance, not a competition. While it would be wonderful to win the grand prize, it will also open up opportunities for more people to hear my performance.”
The Center dedicates many hours to practice and hard work and it is clearly evident in the number of other opportunities in store for them this semester.
This includes a trip to New York for the entire Center to perform a debut concert.
On Feb. 4, they performed at Le Poisson Rouge, a popular fine arts venue in New York City that has hosted events from film and theatre to dance and music.
Before their debut, the Center’s director Amy Schwartz Moretti, shared some of her excitement, “We are performing the music of Philip Glass, who will be joining us in the audience that evening. It should be a thrilling and memorable trip for all of us!”
From competitions and debuts to individual auditions and accomplishments, Mercer’s School of Music and the Center for Strings are creating growing reputations, demonstrating the high caliber of education, and the impressive level of talent among Mercer musicians.
Moretti said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the talent and dedication of our McDuffie Center students. They will represent us well!”
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