Departures were very much a part of the first few hours of the 37th Spoleto Festival.

At opening ceremonies foremost in the remembrance was Ted Stern, the founding chairman of the festival board, who died in January at 100 and to whom the 2013 festival is dedicated. Joseph Flummerfelt, director of choral music since the festival started and who leaves the festival when this one ends, was up on the stage. On the front row down at Broad and Meeting sat festival chamber music founder Charles Wadsworth, who will be making his final public performances at the final chamber concert. Up by Flummerfelt was Ellen Dressler Moryl, who recently retired as director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, a post she’s held almost continuously since it was established 35 years ago. And there was Joe Riley, who can’t be mayor forever, but who seems to be doing fine.

I’ve attended about 20 of these opening ceremonies and sometimes dread going. But even if the words were not particularly inspired this time out, the sentiments were, and the importance of recognizing those who made the festival possible — those who are, as Flummerfelt put it, “leaving the stage” — was genuinely moving.