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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Concert proceeds to help defray cost of kids’ tests

By Val Van Meter The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — American classical pianist Martin Berkofsky will perform in concert Saturday at a benefit for four children who will have extensive genetic testing, as the result of the death of one of their siblings.

“We want to gather the community together for a great concert and to support a family,” said organizer Rob Talton.

Dr. Bruce Keenan and his wife, Jill, lost their 5-year-old son Camden, when he died in his sleep earlier this year, Talton said.

The cause of his death may be linked to a genetic defect and doctors at the Mayo Clinic have recommended genetic testing for his siblings.

That could run up to $12,000 per child, Talton said.

“My wife and I wanted to do whatever we could to help,” he added. “This is an extremely stressful time for them.”

Dr. Keenan, an optometrist, has given a lot to the community, Talton said, sponsoring and coaching youth football and baseball teams and working with his church, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Winchester.

Talton came up with the idea for the concert because he was acquainted with Berkofsky.

The pianist, a child prodigy who first began giving public performances and recording at age 8, created the Cristofori Foundation to help various charitable causes, for which he often performs concerts.

“He has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to philanthropy,” Talton said.

Proceeds from the concert will be funneled though the Cristofori Foundation, which is a registered 501 (c) 3 charitable organization, Talton said.

Jill Keenan, who met Berkofsky at a recent dinner, called the pianist awesome. “Imagine someone who does something like this for total strangers.”

Berkofsky spent the evening talking to the couple and later told Talton, “I had the entire concert planned out, but after talking to the Keenans, I’m going to change the whole thing.”

“He wanted to figure out the music that most expressed our feelings,” Jill Keenan said.

Perhaps best known for his interpretations of the music of Franz Liszt, Berkofsky has also discovered, restored, and recorded works by Max Bruch, Felix Mendelssohn, and Ignaz Moscheles.

“Martin will play from 7 to 8:30 p.m.,” Talton said, at the Armstrong Concert Hall at Shenandoah University, and then everyone is invited to a reception with refreshments, afterwards, he added.

All the proceeds from the concert will go to the Mayo Clinic for Medical Research and the Camden Bray Keenan Memorial Fund.

Jill Keenan said the doctors will check her children for a genetic mutation called Long QT, which refers to the timing of the electrical signals needed by the muscle cells of the heart to recharge. The mutation can throw off the heart’s regular rhythm, and can cause dizziness, fainting, or seizures.

Hopefully, she said, the research can save another child.

Tickets to the performance are $25 and can be purchased through Talton, by calling 540-662-8599 or 540-327-3779, or by contacting Les Veach, at the State Farm Insurance Company, 540-667-9900.

Some tickets will also be available at the box office the night of the performance.


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