A line of people gathered under the glimmering lights of the Grand Opera House in Macon on Oct. 17 to see Mercer students, Mercer alumni and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform in the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra.
The show exhibited performances by The McDuffie Center for Strings Young Artists and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It also gave a chance for Mercer alumni who studied with the McDuffie Center to perform with current students.
Award-winning and Macon-born conductor Roderick Cox hosted the event and included selections from the “Bernstein: Symphonic Dances” from "West Side Story," Bedřich Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride: Overture” and Maurice Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé Suite no. 2.”
Not all of the talent executed that night was in the spotlight. Behind the scenes, many hours of work are spent preparing for the true magic of the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra.
Mercer student Virgil Moore ‘24 has played violin for ten years, playing with the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra since its founding in 2021.
When asked how much practice goes into events such as the symphony, Moore stated, “I'd say twice a week, like every other week, I would say. And then outside of that, there's definitely individual practice for our own parks that we have to do on our own time.”
Moore said the diligence students and staff put in is very much rewarded.
“It's definitely a big deal for students to be able to work with the Atlanta Symphony and the guest conductors that we'll get to work with this season. It's great to be able to have a large symphonic orchestra that the McDuffie Center students can be a part of," Moore said. "What we're doing even when we are performing, we can just kind of feel the energy from the audience. It just kind of radiates and we play off of that energy, which is really special."
However, the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra did not only have an impact on music students. Mercer student DeeDee Cudjoe 24’ explains that the symphony has impacted her.
“I really just enjoyed all of the preparation, all of the buildup, all of just the clapping and the music and the essence of an orchestra and a symphony and how it can make me feel,” Cudjoe said.
Cudjoe feels like anyone should be able to enjoy events like the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra.
“I wish that, like you know, music could stay a part of everybody's life, no matter what you're studying or what your interest is just because it is something so universal to me,” she said.
The Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra will have another performance on Nov. 21, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. and will feature Jeffrey Turner as conductor. This event will feature pieces from Bernstein’s "Overture to Candide" and Antonín Dvořák's Symphony no. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World”.
Maura Rutledge ‘25 is a Journalism student at Mercer University. She has previously worked for The Cluster as an Arts and Culture and News reporter, and currently works as the Managing Editor. She enjoys thrifting, fashion, reading and writing in her spare time.