Murray Shares Musical Talent with Community


THE PIANO MAN: Craig Murray (11) plays the piano in Olshan Lobby.

Eddie Jin

Have you ever heard flowing, melodious music resounding from the Olshan Lobby piano? It was probably Craig Murray (11), an award-winning pianist and singer.
Murray’s musical journey began when he was six. His mother noticed how he often played his toy piano, and he soon began to take lessons, he said.
After only four years of piano lessons, he began to excel among his peers and since then has won various competitions, even playing at Carnegie Hall as part of the Piano Teachers Congress Honors Program, Murray said.
He was named the winner of the Westchester Musicians Guild Young Artist Audition for three consecutive years, tied for first in the Bronx Art Ensemble Young Artist Competition, and made the finals in the Claudette Sorel Piano Competition.
Specializing in classical music, he currently studies piano at the Concordia Conservatory and previously attended the Manhattan School of Music pre-college program.
Although music takes time away from academics, Murray was able to find a balance and believes it also helps to develop mathematical skills due to the many parallels between math and music. He attributes success in his mathematics classes to concepts he learned from musical studies, he said.
Among his favorite composers and pianists are Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin. Liszt and Chopin were both renowned for their difficult music and chastised at times for being too challenging, Murray said. However, Murray faces their compositions head on, enjoying the rewarding feeling once he is able to play them flawlessly, he said.
“I play the piano because it allows me to enter another realm of artistry,” Murray said.
Murray has been able to share his love for these composers with the school.
Accompanist Dr. Amir Khosrowpour distinctly remembers Murray’s “amazing and hilarious” performance of a Chopin etude at a school talent show, Khosrowpour said. “He got up there on this keyboard that was half-falling apart, and all of a sudden, he’s playing this really difficult and fast music, just up and down the keyboard.”
According to Chair of Music Department and choir director Timothy Ho, Murray has a technical aspect with the way his fingers move and how quickly he is able to interact with them, but he also has a strong sense of how to craft a series of notes into a beautiful musical phrase.
Part of the school’s choir groups since middle school, Murray is eager to share his passion for piano with them, often playing accompaniment while the students sing, Khosrowpour said.
Murray also helps teach younger students in the Middle Division (MD) Chorus by visiting their classes weekly to play and teach the stylistic aspects of his current piece, which is by Liszt.
Initially, it was a casual 45-second lesson when Murray happened to be in the choir room during a MD Chorus class., Ho said, but it has developed into a greater endeavor.
Ho believes in the importance of students’ listening to high-level music as well as having it come from someone with whom they can connect, Ho said.
Murray was excited to have the opportunity to present his analysis of the century-old piece written by one of his favorite composers, Murray said.