A large audience attended the Cornell Symphony Orchestra (CSO) concert Saturday night in Bailey Hall, but it was the late Prof. Edward Murray for whom the musicians played.
Murray, who conducted the orchestra and taught musical theory at Cornell for 25 years, passed away last Wednesday in New York City. He was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer. He was 62 years of age.
At the start of the performance, concertmaster Daniel Kim dedicated the concert to Murray.
“His musical talents were extraordinary,” Kim said, describing Murray as a man with “a quick, dry wit” and musical interests ranging from classical to jazz.
Murray was also very active in the community, working with the Ithaca Opera Company and playing jazz piano in a duo with David Borden, a senior lecturer in the music department.
“He was very versatile,” said John Hsu, conductor of the CSO and the Old Dominion Found Professor of music.
“He had all the qualities that define the best professors,” Kim said. Murray left his teaching and conducting position last fall and asked Hsu to take over his position as the orchestra conductor, Hsu said. Hsu had filled in for Murray before, when he was on leave or sabbatical.
When Murray left, students were told that he had pancreatic cancer and needed to go to New York for treatment, Hsu said.
Flutist Andrea Lee vet ’02, performed under Murray’s direction since 1991.
“He brought me into this group and gave me the opportunity to play,” Lee said, discussing how she enjoyed having the chance to play, even though she was a graduate student and not a music major.
“Especially as a grad student, it was a great opportunity to play in an undergraduate orchestra,” Lee said.
“It’s not often that you get a group this good in a nonconservatory institution,” oboist Anna Herforth ’02 added. “I was playing for him,” Herforth said.
“So was I,” Lee added. “[Tonight’s concert] meant a lot to me.” It was Lee’s last concert.
“I can’t thank him enough, and I wish I had the chance to thank him in person. I think he would have been happy with tonight’s concert,” Lee said.
Archived article by Heather Schroeder