Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lucy Miller Murray's Big Day

“If I knew then what I know now, I probably never would have said ‘yes’...”

A couple of years ago, when I talked to Lucy Miller about getting Market Square Concerts started 25 years earlier, she figured it would just be a few concerts at the church (hence the name), she'd put up a few signs and – the classical music version of “Field of Dreams” - the audience would just show up.

Fortunately for us, she didn’t, she did - and they did, too.

Lots of hard work and perseverance, a book-worth of program notes and thousands of page turns later, she made up her mind it was time to retire. But the problem was finding someone willing (or naive enough) to take on the concert series so it would survive. Fortunately, Ellen Hughes said “yes” as well, and Lucy stepped down after founding Market Square Concerts 27 years ago, having turned an idea for presenting local concerts of chamber music into a nationally recognized treasure with world-class artists making regular appearances in Harrisburg.

The current season was the last one she had planned, including the world premiere of the Violin Sonata by Philip Glass and ending with another Farewell, a performance by the Guarneri Quartet during their Farewell Tour, one of the last performances they will give.

And so it seemed appropriate to have a celebration for her at a special dinner following the concert.

You can read about the concert and some of those unexpected things that can happen at a live performance in an earlier post, here.

At the start of that concert, Ellen and Market Square Concerts Board President James Cowden presented Lucy with a Proclamation from the Office of Harrisburg’s Mayer, Stephen R. Reed.

(The text is added below; see photos: (1) top, Lucy addressed the crowd after the concert, wearing an Egyptian ring that sparkled before she spoke; (2) at right, James Cowden joining Lucy & Martin Murray.)

After the concert, a special dinner and tribute for her was held across the Square at the Hilton. David McCorkle took even more photographs, some more of which I’ve posted here:

(3) Long-time friends and Market Square Concerts supporters listen to Lucy's remarks.

(4) Pianist Peter Orth, who gave the very first recital with Market Square Concerts and returned frequently, performing again in the 20th and 25th Anniversary seasons, sent Lucy a bouquet of 27 white tulips, one for each year.

(5) Lucy Martin Murray holding the Mayor's Proclamation, standing with her husband Martin in Market Square Church.

(6) The Guarneri Quartet’s violist, Michael Tree, with Lois Lehrman Grass.

(7) The Guarneri Quartet’s 1st Violinist, Arnold Steinhardt, with Marion Alexander, Tom Pheasant & Lucy.

Here is the text of Mayor Reed's Proclamation, saluting Lucy Miller Murray after her 27 years of involvement with Market Square Concerts:

- - - - - - - -
Office of the Mayor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


Amongst the most well-respected and loved local musicians and leaders is the inimitable Lucy Miller Murray, the founder and director of the Market Square Concerts series, who is today lauded as she retires after twenty-seven years of dedicated service to that organization; and

Lucy Miller Murray has received both national and international acclaim for the Market Square Concerts organization and under her leadership, the Market Square Concerts series has been recognized throughout the United States and the world as an innovative and successful phenomenon in the world of chamber music; and

Though she’s been helped by a dedicated Board of Directors, Lucy Miller Murray has achieved much of her success single-handedly, having concerts held throughout the Greater Harrisburg Region for the past twenty-seven years and having put the City of Harrisburg on the “chamber music map”; and

Appropriately and accordingly, Lucy Miller Murray is herein lauded as her retirement is celebrated on this day with a fantastic and memorable dinner at the Harrisburg Hilton; now, therefore be it hereby designated and

That Sunday, April 5, 2009, be declared


In and for the citizens of the City of Harrisburg, Capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with all citizens urged to recognize and appreciated the important contributions that have been made to the City of Harrisburg and the surrounding region by this dedicated woman.

Set Under My Hand and Seal This
Eighteenth Day of February, Annum
Two-Thousand and Nine

Mayor Stephen R. Reed
- - - - - - - -

Ellen meanwhile has been very busy not just making sure everything ran smoothly this season but getting next season ready to go - and I'll be telling you more about the new 2009-2010 Season shortly. There will also be up-coming posts about SummerMusic 2009 with the return to the Mill in July by the Fry Street String Quartet, Stuart Malina, Odin Rathnam and Gerard Reuter.

And here's to Ellen Hughes, the Director of Market Square Concerts, and the next fifty years!

- Dr. Dick

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