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Sidlin Orchestrates His Own Farewell

June 12, 1988

Conductor Murry Sidlin of the Long Beach Symphony did not follow hallowed tradition May 21 at the Terrace Theater. Upon concluding the program with a magnificent performance of Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream," he took a short bow and left, with enthusiastic applause ringing in his ears. By our standing ovation, many of us wanted to bid farewell to Sidlin on his final concert. Long-established protocol would have called for, at least, two or three curtain calls. The lights were turned on; the musicians, chorus and narrators were waiting; the applause went on. But he never came back.

In his own way, he had already given his farewell. Towards the very end of Shakespeare's narrative part of "Midsummer Night's Dream," he dramatically left the podium, joined the narrators at the microphone and, assuming Puck's role, read his parting lines:

\o7 If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumbered here,

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme

No more yielding but a dream.

Gentles, do not reprehend:

If you pardon, we will mend.

And, as I am honest Puck,

If we have unearned luck.

Now to 'scrape the serpent's tongue,'

We will make amends ere long.

Else the Puck a liar call:

So, good night unto you all.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

And Robin shall restore amends.

Sidlin had selected to articulate these gentle words himself, probably as a parting gesture to his audience and also as a reply to his arbitrary dismissal after eight years of outstanding conducting, lecturing and upgrading of the Long Beach Symphony.

Many of us symphony fans were outraged when the news was announced last year, and some kind of protest was mounted. At this last concert, we wanted to communicate to him our support, our deep regrets and Godspeed. Perhaps a more fitting quote in reply to those who had terminated his contract would have been Puck's better-known line: What fools these mortals be .



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