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Retired music teacher inspires concert to support arts school

October 24, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- Marvin Hurley shared his passion for music with Washington County Public Schools students for 32 years.

What better way to honor his commitment than to assemble an orchestra of his former students to raise money for a school that is dedicated to the arts?

A committee of 10 people, along with Hurley's wife, Nancy, did just that.

Last year, the Hurley Alumni Orchestra celebrated Hurley's 70th birthday with a reunion concert and raised $22,000 for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation.

About 65 musicians gathered Saturday night at the North Hagerstown High School auditorium to play in the second annual Hurley Alumni Orchestra Pops Concert.

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The group was comprised of students who studied under Hurley's instruction between 1962 and 1994; current high school students, including some from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts; and friends and associates of Hurley.

Master of ceremonies Robert H. Bricker said combined with the $22,000 raised last year, proceeds from the alumni concerts were nearly $50,000.

Austin Abraham, 57, of Hagerstown, who played violin under the direction of Hurley as a student at North Hagerstown High School, is committee chairman for the alumni orchestra. He said about 800 people attended Saturday night's concert.

The concert theme was "An Evening with Marvin 'Pops' Hurley." The program featured music from Broadway, movies and television shows.

Hurley shared conducting duties with a few of his former students. He said the individuals who played in the orchestra are "very fine musicians."

"I am proud to be a part of this," Hurley said. "It's all surreal. I keep wondering, am I living a dream that I'm not supposed to be living or what? I'm just not sure."

Hurley said he was happy the concerts have helped the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

"The students are very deserving of the best our community can offer," he said. "This school really provides an opportunity and an environment where they can thrive."

Hurley spent many years directing the North Hagerstown High School orchestra. He also taught at South Hagerstown High School, North Potomac Junior High School, Northern Middle School and at various elementary schools.

Abraham said the concert planning committee compiled a mailing list of more than 400 of Hurley's former students. He said while the former students live throughout the country, they were eager to support an homage to Hurley.

"Marvin had a way of inspiring excellence and inspiring an appreciation for music in a way that touched people's lives and lasted for a lifetime," Abraham said.

Charles Dupon, 45, of Frederick, Md., played percussion under Hurley's direction as a North High student until he graduated in 1982. Today, Dupon is an airline pilot who plays in classic rock bands. Dupon said he "dusted the cobwebs off" to play with the orchestra.

"Last year and this year, people are flying in from all over the country, from as far as Texas, for this," Dupon said. "(Hurley) was a very important influence on a lot of our lives."

Hurley said he has had two strokes since last May. He thanked the alumni orchestra, friends and family for supporting him in his recuperation.

"Preparing for this concert has been a motivating factor in his recovery," Abraham said.

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