The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University will move to a new site next autumn after receiving a $1.5m grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, reports The Telegraph. The donation will fund the renovation of a 10,000 square-foot, 1860s mansion in Macon, Georgia, which will house the 26-student programme.

The McDuffie Center students currently compete with 100 students at Mercer University's Townsend School of Music to use just 16 practice rooms. The renovation of the historic mansion, Bell House, will create student practice spaces on the second floor and a 60-seat auditorium on the first floor.

The undergraduate strings programme is led by violinist Robert McDuffie and includes violinist David Halen, violist Lawrence Dutton, cellist Hans Jørgen Jensen and double bassist Kurt Muroki among its faculty.