Festival’s unsung hero | AspenTimes.com

Festival’s unsung hero

Dear Editor:

The Aspen Times ran a feature story by Stewart Oksenhorn (July 19) about the wonderful Conducting Academy at the Music Festival and School, a program for conductors that puts on free weekly concerts that regularly attract a full-tent audience.

As nearly 30-year veterans of the festival, we cheered the review. However, an essential was missing from the story – the crucial role played by Murray Sidlin in getting it started. He initiated conducting training when that was rare – back in the mid-’90s – and when David Zinman arrived in 2000 the training was formalized into the academy with its own orchestra. Sidlin was assistant director, Zinman the director, and they worked together for 11 years.

We miss Murray Sidlin – his conducting, his pre-concert lectures, always fascinating with the juicy tidbits he interlaced with the facts, and his steady presence around the campus. The most memorable concert we ever attended was the Bernstein Mass he led, with a massive orchestra, several ensembles and a handful of soloists – a stage packed from front to back and side to side – a handful to lead. We had tears in our eyes at the end – as did many in the audience. Unforgettable!

Gordon Hardy and Robert Harth, if he were alive, would hail Murray Sidlin for having been at the heart of the festival over his 33-year tenure. Conductor, teacher, faculty representative to the board, all-around hard-working musician, he deserves our praise and appreciation. It is late in arriving, but his record of excellent and devoted service to the festival and school must be recognized.

We thank him.

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