For Sidlin, ‘an Emotional Evening’ Tonight

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Times Music Writer

As a candidate for the post of music director, Murry Sidlin first conducted the Long Beach Symphony on March 19, 1979. A year later, he got the job. Four years after that, the then-50-year-old orchestra closed up shop in a financial crisis. In 1985, Sidlin and the Long Beach Symphony were together again, in tandem with the orchestra’s administration and board, slowly rebuilding the organization’s future.

Tonight, Sidlin conducts the Long Beach Symphony for the last time.

“This is going to be an emotional evening,” Sidlin said, referring to the fact that last Oct. 1 he was suddenly relieved of his post as music director of the orchestra--given seven months’ notice, as it were. Sidlin this week said that he is “still quite affected by what happened.”

In a normal course of events, Sidlin said his leaving the orchestra after eight years might not be so difficult. “It’s just very sad that this parting comes not as the result of a logical process,” he said, reiterating that he was never informed that the board of directors--which told his management on Oct. 1 that the conductor’s contract would not be renewed--was unhappy with him, or was considering replacing him.


The 10-member executive committee that made the decision has refused to discuss the firing.

As for the future, Sidlin is by happenstance becoming inactive as a music director in two places at once--his plans to leave his post at the New Haven (Conn.) Symphony at the end of this current season were made long ago. He is not unemployed, however.

In New Haven, he will remain as the orchestra’s artistic adviser and will conduct several concerts. For the San Diego Symphony--where Sidlin will serve as untitled resident conductor--he will conduct 18 performances of six separate programs in the 1988-89 season.

“Then, I continue with what they call the Chevron Community Concerts, taking my Copland program to a number of American cities, and orchestras, each season. This year we were in Denver, Honolulu and New Mexico, among other places. In 1988-89 I’ll do them in Houston, Anchorage, Alabama, with others pending,” he said. “Then I have a number of guest appearances--with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, and in Reykjavik, Iceland, just to mention two.”

This summer will mark Sidlin’s 10th year as a resident conductor at the music school at the Aspen Festival in Colorado; he admits to “being drawn to working with young people.

“There’s a tremendous rejuvenation for my generation in being in touch with these musicians, in introducing them to some of the masterpieces of the repertory. To these young people, these are not old warhorses, but the equivalent of premiere performances. I feel a real accomplishment in being able to set these works on young people.”


Aspen remains, Sidlin feels, “a gathering place for several generations of musicians, a place where we can try new things, where controversy is fostered and ideas can be exchanged. We want to expose the students to different points of view--the bonus is that we keep ourselves fresh in the process.”