Panel Suggests Full-Time Head for Symphony

Times Staff Writer

Murry Sidlin, conductor and music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, received a vote of no confidence Monday from the task force charged with resurrecting the ailing musical ensemble.

The 33-member panel voted unanimously that, if the orchestra is to play for another season, it must have a full-time music director who lives in the city, instead of a leader such as Sidlin--who splits his time and efforts between two symphonies--one on the East Coast.

"The primary thing decided (at the task force's meeting) was that we need a full-time director and not one who is part time," said C. Robert Langslet, chairman of the task force, which was created by the City Council.

Many task force members go a step further, contending that the orchestra needs to replace Sidlin if it expects to receive financial support from the local corporate community, which is wary of giving money to a performing group that is seriously in debt. That issue, however, was not voted on.

"I think the consensus of the task force is that we really need a new director," Langslet said in an interview. "I don't think Mr. Sidlin would be willing to give up his home and post in the East (as conductor of Connecticut's New Haven Symphony) to come out here. I think we need someone who will be devoted full time to the Long Beach Symphony, particularly at this time, until it is back on its feet and reorganized."

Sidlin could not be reached for comment.

The Monday gathering was the first of six task force meetings scheduled this month to decide the symphony's fate and write a set of recommendations for submission to the City Council on March 1.

The group also recommended Monday that the symphony be scaled down to a small, baroque ensemble until the city can afford to support a full-sized orchestra.

"We're recommending they (the orchestra) maintain as high quality a symphony as possible as far as artistic excellence and to pare down until the symphony can expand with a no-deficit structure," Langslet said.

The musical group went dark on Nov. 13--only two performances into its Golden Anniversary season. It is about $575,000 in debt.

Needs Carefully Budgeting

"We feel the symphony is going to survive," Langslet said, "but it's going to have to be very carefully budgeted. We feel it would be very important to have a director that is full time, lives in the city and is directly involved in the management and fund raising."

Vance Caesar, chairman of the reporting committee that drafted Monday's recommendations, cautioned that so far the desire to oust Sidlin is only "implicit."

"As far as I'm concerned, if he would be willing to give 100% of his time and effort to the symphony, I'd be happy to have Mr. Sidlin stay," Caesar said. "I don't think that we have to replace everyone who has been involved in the symphony to date."

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