Murphy helps lead Classics For A Cause on Nov. 14

Kieran Murphy, above, plays piano at last year's Rock 'n' Roll Revival.

Kieran Murphy was 7 when his parents introduced him to piano lessons.

Now a high school senior, Murphy not only enjoys playing, but appreciates benefits that transcend musical knowledge. Performing has built his confidence, improved public speaking skills and taught him to improvise when necessary.

Perhaps most importantly, it instilled a desire to share music with others, by performing but also by helping provide instruments to children who might not be able to afford them.

So, last year, when the James M. Bennett High School senior learned about the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council’s Instrument Barn, which provides instruments to youths, he and his friend Kaya Manizade were eager  to help.

Both classical pianists, they decided to present a show to raise money.

They contacted Therese Hamilton, executive director of the 47-year-old arts council, and under her leadership Murphy and Manizade created Classics for a Cause.

About 350 people attended and $3,500 was raised.

This year, on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., the second annual Classics for a Cause will be presented at Asbury United Methodist Church.

Performing will be Gia Bautista, a pianist who attends Wicomico Middle School; singers Dylan Gregg and Susan Graham, Parkside and Wicomico High school  students;  and Amy Vennos and Peter Lim from Bennett High.

Proceeds, Hamilton said, will benefit, “SWAC’s grant program that includes arts enhanced education grants to keep arts in schools, community arts development grants issued to arts organizations for various art interests, art scholarships for youth to pursue the arts, arts programming, arts advocacy on local, state and national levels, arts promotion in various forms, arts events to benefit the community and local economy and support for the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council’s mission in general”

Manizade is now a cadet at U.S. Military Academy, so Murphy is  organizing the event.

Last year, about a dozen instruments, in good condition, were donated. It was a successful endeavor.

“The exciting part is, this is youth initiated and youth enthusiasm,” Hamilton said.

“This is youths stepping out of their comfort zone for their age and putting  together a program, doing the planning, selling the tickets. These are amazing youths.

“This is a student-organized, student-operated, student-conceptualized event, but carried out under the guidance, mentoring and provision of the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council,” said Hamilton, whose annual budget is $150,000 to $200,000.

After the show, there will be a dessert reception with the artists.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for SWAC members, senior citizens and veterans. Students will pay $5 and children younger than 5 will be admitted free. E-mail

“These young men are just so bright. They ran with it. It turned into a mentoring situation. Kaya went to college but Kieran is still here. He’s going to college but I asked him before he goes to create a blueprint for future planners so this can continue,” Hamilton said.

“It’s our future. When children are involved in the arts they don’t skip school. When children are involved in the arts, it builds character … it’s lifeblood for community,” Hamilton said.

“Because we raised so much money last year, we can sustain it for many years,” Murphy said.

“This year we are looking for more people to attend, but we are really looking for more  advocacy. Music is so important. It taught me discipline and a work ethic. In addition to the emotional and human level, I was able to connect with composers, even those lived hundreds of years ago,” he said.

The son of Valerie and Michael Murphy of Fruitland, his goal is to study public policy at Princeton.

“I was brought up to get involved in community service,” Murphy said.

“When I see an opportunity to make something better in the community I take the opportunity to do it.”

Contact Susan Canfora at

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