Murry Sidlin is a conductor with a unique perspective of how music serves American life and is credited with having one of the most diverse musical careers in the country today. After eight years as the Oregon Symphony’s resident conductor - during which time he conducted hundreds of classical concerts, tours, special events, concerts for young people, pops, and innovative concerts designed to create greater audience engagement - he became the dean of the School of Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., a position he held for eight years.
He is the founder and president of The Defiant Requiem Foundation which sponsors the Defiant Requiem concerts and projects including the documentary film currently in production, Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin, The Rafael Schächter Institute of Arts and Humanities at Terezin, Holocaust education projects that include a website with high school lesson plans, and the continuation of live performances of Defiant Requiem. In 2011 Defiant Requiem will also be presented in Tulsa, Oklahoma and in Minnesota.
Mr. Sidlin served as music director of the New Haven Symphony for 12 years. For eight of those seasons, he was also music director of the Long Beach Symphony in California. He has also served as music director of the Tulsa Philharmonic, Connecticut Ballet, and was principal guest conductor of the Gavleborg Orkester of Sweden. He had a long association with the San Diego Symphony, having conducted more than 300 traditional, classical, and innovative concerts. For 12 years he was the music director of the summer Cascade Festival of Music in Bend, Oregon.
In addition to the number of distinguished music directorships Mr. Sidlin has held, he has also appeared as guest conductor around the world, including recent appearances with the St. Louis Symphony; the major orchestras of San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Atlanta, Colorado, Utah, Florida, Jerusalem; the George Enescu Philharmonic of Bucharest; Czech National Symphony; MVD Orchestra of Budapest; Iceland Symphony; and major orchestras of Madrid, I Solisti Veneti, Honolulu, Seattle, Monte Carlo, Vancouver, Victoria, and Edmonton and Quebec; in addition to the Boston Pops, San Antonio Symphony and Opera, Houston Symphony, and repeated performances with the Lindberg Orchestra of Holland. He gave several performances of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS with the Lithuanian National Orchestra on tour in Germany and Slovenia and at the Vilnius Festival as the Eastern European premier of this work. He began his career as assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony under Sergiu Comissiona and served for four seasons as the resident conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, appointed by Antal Dorati.
He created the nationally famous Nerve Endings series in Portland, Oregon. This series features innovative concerts designed to attract and engage new audiences and expand the traditional role of the symphony orchestra. Each program was written, conducted, and designed by Mr. Sidlin and launched via the Knight Foundation of Miami’s “Magic of Music” initiative. Nerve Endings attracted hundreds of new subscribers each season. Among the most popular of the more than 25 creative programs are: Sigmund Freud and the Dreams of Gustav Mahler; From Lenny to Maestro; The Anatomy of the 9th; Aaron Copland’s America; Russian David, Soviet Goliath (Shostakovich vs. Stalin); Shadows and Voices, The Last Days of Tchaikovsky; and Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin.
In Spring of 2002, Mr. Sidlin presented his first performance of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin, in Portland, Oregon. Since that premiere he has led ten performances of Defiant Requiem, including three on the grounds of the Terezin Concentration Camp in May 2006, May 2009, and in June 2009. The June 2009 performance served as the conclusion to the International Holocaust Conference attended by nearly 700 delegates from 47 nations. On May 9, 2010, Defiant Requiem was presented to an audience of 5,000 people in Budapest, Hungary and televised live over Danube Television throughout Eastern Europe and Israel. Most recently Defiant Requiem was presented at The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. on October 6, 2010.
Maestro Sidlin will make his 17th consecutive appearance conducting the National Symphony at the annual New Year’s Eve gala at the Kennedy Center in 2010. He was the first conductor to raise a baton in the refurbished Kennedy Opera House on November 19, 2003 when he conducted excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, the composition that opened the Opera House in 1971.
The summer of 2010 marked Mr. Sidlin’s 32nd year at the Aspen Music Festival, where he served as the resident artist/teacher and associate director of conducting studies. With conductor David Zinman, Mr. Sidlin developed the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen 11 years ago.
In 1997 Mr. Sidlin, in collaboration with Aaron Copland, re-orchestrated, conducted and recorded Copland’s only full-length opera, The Tender Land in a new chamber ensemble version which has given the opera new life. He later culled a chamber ensemble suite from the opera to serve as a companion work to Copland’s original chamber version of Appalachian Spring. He has performed the opera more than 200 times and recorded the opera and the suite from the opera which he also arranged; he also has recorded Piazzola’s Tango Opera Maria de Buenos Aires, all for KOCH International with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble. Among his principal teachers were the legendary pedagogues Leon Barzin and Sergiu Celibidache.
Mr. Sidlin was appointed by Presidents Ford and Carter to serve on the White House Commission of Presidential Scholars, and won national recognition for his television series, Music Is..., a ten-part series about music for children which was seen over the PBS network for five years. In 1997 he was recognized as Educator of the Year by the National Association of Independent Schools of Music. He has been featured several times on NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Sunday Morning as conducting teacher and teaching conductor. He lectures extensively throughout the country on the future of the arts in America and the education of the musician in the 21s century. In June 2011 Mr. Sidlin will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his Alma Mater, Johns Hopkins University-Peabody Conservatory of Music.