Mercer University’s McDuffie Center for Strings will have a new home inside a Civil War-era mansion in Macon, thanks to a new grant announced Friday.
$1.5 million from Atlanta’s Robert W. Woodruff Foundation will help convert the massive, white-columned Bell House into practice rooms and rehearsal spaces for young musicians.
Director Amy Schwartz Moretti says the parlor will also make a natural chamber music hall.
"We’re calling it 'the salon' and we see that as a space that can hold at least sixty people to come and see concerts there," Moretti said. "A very intimate space."
Renowned violinist and Macon native Robert McDuffie, for whom the center is named, is excited about the new performance venue.
"It’s gonna be a throwback to the salon days in the grand old homes around Europe and America, comparable to what the Curtis Institute is doing in Philadelphia and Peabody in Baltimore," McDuffie said.
With the addition of some oriental rugs, McDuffie says the acoustics in the parlor will be perfect. "It’s already quite bright, makes you sound better than you really are, it's like singing in the shower," he said.
The Bell House already has a distinguished musical history—the Allman Brothers Band shot the cover of their 1969 debut on the font portico.
Thanks to the Woodruff grant, McDuffie says the center should be moved into the new space in time for next fall semester.