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Bell House - Home of the Center

Extraordinary string students deserve an extraordinary college experience. The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings has assembled an unparalleled faculty of international performing artists to teach talented students in pursuit of musical excellence.

Founded as a special institute within Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music, the McDuffie Center for Strings’ enrollment is limited to 26 students: twelve violinists, six violists, six cellists and two double bassists.

The distinguished artists of the McDuffie Center perform, collaborate and record with the finest orchestras, string ensembles and conductors around the world. They are at the top of their fields. And, each McDuffie Center student interacts with these distinguished artists on a regular basis, which enhances the students’ private lessons, master classes, chamber music coaching sessions and orchestral sectionals, all a part of their required curriculum.

Combining this intensive, conservatory experience with the practicality of a specific business-oriented curriculum, the McDuffie Center for Strings prepares the entrepreneurial musician for success in the real world.

Enrichment opportunities abound within the Center for Strings and the Townsend School of Music. Partnerships with the prestigious Rome Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival and New World Symphony in Miami provide McDuffie Center students with additional performance and learning possibilities.

The McDuffie Center for Strings’ distinguished artists, faculty and staff are dedicated to the development of student artists pursuing personal and musical excellence.


The Bell House

The Bell House is 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. In
1900, under the ownership of retired Confederate Capt. Samuel S. Dunlap, 18 massive
Corinthian-style columns were added. The house was individually listed on the National
Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The house was operated for
about 20 years as Beall’s 1860 restaurant until it closed in the 1990s. In 2001, Mercer
Trustee Gus Bell purchased the home and meticulously renovated the interior of the
house to serve as business offices. The Bell family donated the house to the University
in April 2008 in memory of Bell’s wife, Amanda Hancock Morris Bell. In November
2012, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant to the
University to fund renovation efforts to create the new home of the Robert McDuffie
Center for Strings. 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.”

A message from the Director

Within the Townsend School of Music at Mercer, the students, faculty artists and staff have created something unique in the McDuffie Center. Besides world-class performances and inspiring master classes, you can feel the dedication of these special students and their faculty mentors at chamber music coaching sessions and private lessons as well as the supportive spirit that creates the encouraging environment for them to study and grow. Please come and join us at any of our wonderful concerts, enjoy the elegance of the Bell House, and stop outside a practice room to hear the students at work. We would like to welcome you!

— Amy Schwartz Moretti

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Robert McDuffie Center for Strings