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Ken Murray

The Ken Murray Fund builds bridges while Making Space for Music

“For as long as I can remember, my grandfather had a connection to the Faculty of Music,” says Andrew Harwood, fund adviser for the Ken Murray Fund (KMF), which is managed by the KW Community Foundation (KWCF).

Harwood remembers going backstage at Kitchener's Centre in the Square during one of Murray’s Concerto Competition winner performances, meeting the student and getting a backstage tour. “It was really neat to go back there as an adult, after years of attending the competition growing up.”

As President of Schneiders Foods and an active volunteer and philanthropist, Murray, along with his wife Marilyn, was a well known and loved community builder in KW, but he’s perhaps best known to Laurier students thanks to the annual Ken Murry Concerto Competition.

Now in its 20th year (though paused for COVID-19), the annual event offers Laurier music students the chance to compete in front of a panel of KW Symphony members for a tremendous prize: the opportunity to play a concert with the KW Symphony, as well as a significant financial award.

The Ken Murray Concerto Competition is truly special and valuable. Winning the competition this year felt incredible because, first, the chance to perform with the KW Symphony as a soloist as a undergraduate student will be a fantastic opportunity, and second, the award will help me pay for the next year of university, which will be my last year at Laurier, and truly devote everything to continuing to work at becoming the best harpist I can be. I am truly grateful for the Ken Murray Fund, the KW Community Foundation, and Andrew Harwood, for making these opportunities possible for us, so we can devote ourselves more fully to our music and so that one day, perhaps we can give back to the same community that has supported us along the way. - Daniella Kistemaker, Bachelor of Music, Performance, Class of 2023, 2022 Ken Murray Concerto Competition winner

The Murrays also generously supported the Faculty of Music through the Ken Murray Entrance Scholarship which recognizes music students of exceptional promise. Now, Murray’s legacy will support Making Space for Music.

“My grandparents were original supporters of Making Space for Music, many years ago,” says Harwood. “Now, we are fulfilling their vision through the Ken Murray Fund, by naming a practice room in the new Savvas Chamberlain Music Building.”

“Former Dean of Music Glen Carruthers was a dear friend of my family. Giving to Making Space for Music was a way for Ken to recognize the work of someone he respected immensely, and whom he called a friend.”

As fund adviser for the Ken Murray Fund, a role Murray gave to his grandson before he passed in 2019, Harwood is pleased to work with the KW Community Foundation to donate this gift. He’s grateful for his grandparents’ generosity, and he’s also very grateful to the KWCF.

“I can’t thank KWCF enough, without KWCF this wouldn’t be possible,” says Harwood. “Their leadership and their role in making philanthropy happen – they make it easy. Whatever I need, they are there for, it’s been wonderful. I can’t sing their praises loud enough.”

Murray would have been very pleased to know that the philanthropic partnership between Laurier, the Ken Murray Fund, and the KWCF is strong, because he cared very deeply about building community and working together for the greater good.

“Ken wanted to make an impact. He tried to create connections and bridge organizations,” says Harwood. “He asked: How can we bring people together?”

“He was always looking for new ways to partner, new ways to do things, while still respecting traditions of the past,” he says. “He wasn’t afraid to look forward and do things differently.”

This year, Ken’s legacy will bring us one step closer to a vision so closely aligned with his and Marilyn’s: a space for people to come together and create music that will make a positive impact in the world. We are grateful to them for their life’s work and giving that is helping us Make Space for Music.

Ken’s desire to give back to his community impacted most of his life decisions. If a project involved young people, he put his heart and soul into it. Ken was a planner. Following his mantra, plan your work and work your plan, he always looked for ways to give permanence to the projects he supported, making provision in his will to continue supporting Laurier scholarships and a concerto competition. Supporting the Making Space for Music campaign was for him, simply a way to say thank you to Laurier for giving him the opportunity to support the creation of these enhanced facilities for music students. – Marilyn Murray

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