I read the comments at Lynn’s site and of course that causes me to think more on this whole topic of symphonies and what sort of changes we’ll be seeing.

Some have said we should nix our black clothes. I wouldn’t mind seeing the guys in something other than tails. I just don’t want my black taken away! I love wearing black because it’s easy; I don’t have to think long and hard about what I’m going to wear, it doesn’t cost a lot, and I can “mix and match”. And it doesn’t make the stage look cluttered and distracting. So please let me hang on to my black!

Some think we should be less formal. There does seem to be a wall between the audience and performer. We used to be told we weren’t allowed to go to the edge of the stage and converse with audience members; that was considered tacky or some such thing. I think talking to audience members can be a gas, and it’s good for them to know we are “just folks”. They don’t always get that … but maybe they don’t want to. But what if we had little informal chats by those of us who are willing to do that? I’d be happy to talk to audience members on occasion. (Yes, I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t start to talk if you hand me a microphone — just try and stop me!) But would that ruin some audience members images of us?

Sidebar: Once a woman came up to me at a reception and said “Oh, I just can’t imagine what you were thinking when you were playing that symphony! You must be in another world. It must seem like heaven!” — or words similar anyway — and then she proceeded to tell me where she was and if I’m recalling correctly she was taken to a desert somewhere. I’m not sure why. I wanted to tell her I was trying to decide if I would have my typical bowl of Cheerios when I got home, or if I felt more like a beer. I didn’t say that though; some audience members want to hang on to their illusions and I’m not one to destroy them. Although by writing this I’ve probably ruined so many readers’ images of me.

But I ramble. (Duh.)

The other thing I wonder … and maybe this is a foolish wondering … is what will happen to my performance if things are changed. If we have a different “feel” and things are less formal, will I relax too much? Will my performance become less that it has been? Sometimes being relaxed can do me harm. I need a bit of the stress I guess. Not TOO much, of course, but I need something … it gives me energy and edge.

There’s so much to think about when it comes to concerts and how to improve them without losing something special or diminishing the music.

Now as to the audience dressing up: I honestly don’t care. I enjoy opera opening nights because we pit folk ooh and aah over all the clothing (and we may laugh a bit too), but I really don’t care what someone wears. I’d prefer that everyone be comfortable. It’s a long sit sometimes. Come in your robe and slippers, for all I care! Shoot … maybe that’s what our new dress code should be: a black robe and furry black slippers. Hmmmm.

What a long ramble. Can anyone spot a procrastinator in the room? Reeds, they be a’callin’. Me? I be ignorin’.


  1. I can’t speak for the
    guys but evening gowns are not uncomfortable. Pantyhose are
    uncomfortable; high-heels are uncomfortable; but if you let me come in
    just an evening gown and slippers I’ll be fine. 🙂

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Hi Lynn, and welcome!

    I’ve actually never owned a legitimate “gown” … but I have long skirts and I used to have long dresses. (A gown, to me anyway, implies something fancier.) I usually wear pants. I have to wear pants when I play English horn; getting fabric caught in one of the lower keys right before playing a bit solo convinced me to never wear a long skirt again for EH.

    I like my dressy pants. I like my long, very dressy jackets. I’m just not much for dresses.

    Besides, when a klutzy person is walking from the parking lot to the hall the dress causes the silly woman a lot of problems

    Heels? Well, I used to wear high heels. I used to say “They feel great!”

    I don’t say that any more. I also don’t wear them much.

  3. I guess I’ll throw in my own two cents on the discussion of what to wear. I personally like it when a group dresses the same as it does create a cleaner look on stage. In my opinion this does tend to limit what can be worn on stage some a not every one is will to wear bright yellow for a concert. (That was just a random example. I am not promoting the colour yellow for stage wear. I actually think from an audience prospective that might be a little bright.)

    My own preferance for prefomance is to wear all black or black bottoms (skirt or nice pants) with a white or pale coloured blouse. The look is classy but still quite comfrotable to move in and wear.


  4. Patricia Mitchell

    I’m guessing, Gwen, that you are talking about youth groups. When I was in a youth orchestra we wore all black (my pref) but some wore white blouses with black skirts. I just like the all black thing.

  5. Actually a couple weeks ago I saw the symphony preforming and (the women at least) were wearing black slacks (I think one or two might have been in a skirt) and white blouses. The men were wearing black suits. No tails though. Just the kind of nice black suits you might see in church.

    Perhaps this was because it was a “pops” concert not a regular preformance but it still looked nice. Yesterday they were wearing all black but didn’t look quite as formal. (It was for a concert at school.) *Shrug* I think it just varies. I know for my wind ensemble we are lucky if most people turn up wearing some black and white. There always seem to be a few people who can’t read the board and come in red, blue, or green. (Red and green are fine for our holiday concert but nothing else.)

    I usually come in all black with the exception of the holiday concert and our spring “all district” concert as those two we are encouraged to wear someting different.

    I am actually not sure why I keep posting to this discussion as I actually don’t feel that strongly any on any colour the symphony wears as long as it isn’t distracting to the preformance and is comfortable to wear when preforming in. Those are my two biggies. Comfort and class.


  6. I wonder… if you think about Beer (good thought!) or Cheerios (I don’t know about that), is the performance the best? Could it be, that when the conductor, the moment, the piece, the event is so outstanding, even you and even (!) the 3rd string of violins will be transplated? And that, under such circumstances, the performance is transformed from note-reproduction to ‘brilliance’?

    Say you were to play at Lucerne, under the conductor you travelled far for, because you revere him so much… and he is conducting one of his, say: ten last performances of one of the grand symphonies. (For arguments sake: Mahler’s 2nd or 5th)… would you still be thinking: “Khakis tomorrow for the trip to Crate & Barrel, or Navy slacks… or that new green silk skirt, after all?”





  7. Patricia Mitchell

    Well, I dunno. Can you be transported and think about beer? Do the two necessarily contradict each other?

    Not being ornery. Just wondering.