If I Were In Charge: Death to the Tuxedo!

A much more comfortable garment to play in.
If I were in charge, I'd abolish the unnecessary, indefensible tuxedo once and for all from classical performance. The Seattle Symphony admits as much, we are reminded this weekend, when they titled their Bumbershoot chamber-music program "Symphony Untuxed," knowing their attempt to reach a broader audience of music lovers will require not dressing like Noel Coward. Nothing contributes more off-puttingly to classical music's false image as Victorian and anachronistic; they're ridiculous relics that bear no connection to the reasons people respond to symphonic music, the ways it enriches our lives. They get between us and the music with a scrim of pretense. Visual conformity is no argument; if the men of the SSO all dress alike, the women wear any random black garment they want, dresses or pants, plain or fancy. Plus, tuxes are hot and uncomfortable, and irksomely restrictive for anyone who needs maximum freedom of arm movement (cellists, trombonists, harpists). Orchestras, would look best, I think, in plain black pants (or skirts) and plain shirts in a color that unobtrusively blends with their surroundings: warm browns and golds to match the gleam of brass and the wood tones of walls and strings.

comments powered by Disqus