Mike Mills of R.E.M. Brings Original Concerto to the Schwartz Center

Mike Mills and Robert McDuffie, photo by Nick Tininenko

October 19, 2016

R.E.M. bassist and songwriter Mike Mills teams up with violinist Robert McDuffie and Fifth House Ensemble for the world premier tour of Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, performing at Emory’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts on Friday, October 28 at 8 p.m.

Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra is the first ever classical work composed and performed by Mills. Mills composed the piece for his longtime friend and fellow Macon, Georgia native Robert McDuffie.

His concerto combines violin, orchestra instrumentals, and a four-piece rock band led by Mills himself to create a brave new sound that the Toronto Star hailed as “a winning way to introduce symphony to a new generation.” 

About the piece Mills says, “It is a pleasure and an honor to have composed and to perform this amazing project alongside my old friend Bobby, whose imagination and encouragement got the whole thing off the ground in the first place. I can't wait to see where it takes us.”

“Mike has created a beautiful and joyful concerto,” McDuffie adds. “It’s a work that goes straight to your heart, and by the end you'll want to dance and move to the South. I’m delighted and honored (and a bit nervous!) to be making music and sharing the stage with Mike and his amazing colleagues. It’s going to be an awesome ride.”

R.E.M. fans will recognize music from the haunting and popular ballad “Nightswimming” incorporated into the concerto. The evening’s program also includes John Adams’s Road Movies accompanied by Elizabeth Pridgen, piano, and Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 3. 

Mike Mills, Robert McDuffie, and Fifth House Ensemble perform in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts’ Emerson Concert Hall, Friday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available from the Arts at Emory Box Office (1700 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta, GA 30322) in person, by phone at 404.727.5050, or online at tickets.arts.emory.edu. Full price tickets are $50, $40 for qualifying discount category members. Additional information available at arts.emory.edu

Mike Mills
A founding member of internationally-acclaimed, Athens, Georgia-based rock band R.E.M., Mike Mills is known for his trademark vocal harmonies and intricate bass lines. Dubbed the band’s “secret weapon” by fans and critics alike, Mills developed a keen musical ear at an early age and is renowned for his musicianship, songwriting, vocals, and production sensibilities in both his work with R.E.M. and solo projects. Since the disbanding of R.E.M. in 2011, Mills has gone on to pursue his own musical adventures and artistic work. 

Robert McDuffie
Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie’s dynamic and multifaceted career includes appearances as a soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras as well as collaborations with the likes of Greg Allman, Chuck Leavell, and Philip Glass. A native of Macon, Georgia, McDuffie is the founder of both the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy and The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University.

Fifth House Ensemble
Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble engages curiosity to create unexpected connections, breathing life into both established and emerging repertoire. Praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse,” Fifth House Ensemble has collaborated with theater groups, visual artists, animators, composers, astronomers, folk musicians, and corporate innovators to create transformative cross-disciplinary performance experiences for audiences of all types.