Don’t think for a minute that this is only about American musicians. I grew up attending all kinds of music events every year – operas, musicals, chamber music concerts, recitals, and symphony concerts, and still do even more, reviewing arts events year-round, often two or more every week.
When I go to one of these arts events I still like to shave, shower, and put on some clean clothes, including a jacket. I do this partly because I am of a generation that likes to clean up and look good, especially when accompanying my wife, which happens to be whenever we go out to an evening event.
I still can’t get used to going to the opera or a concert or the symphony and seeing ladies nicely dressed up for the occasion accompanied by guys who don’t look like they should be escorting them.
Even worse is to look at some of the conductors up on the stage dressed as if they were going to a come- as-you-are party at a friend’s house. The worse culprits of this sartorial crime are the conductors, whereas the rank-and-file players take the trouble to dress neatly. And mind you, I do not speak only of our local maestros, but even of those at the helm of symphony orchestras here and abroad.
As you look at a photograph I have added to this commentary, have a gander at the likes of Leonard Bernstein – famous not only for his genius but for his propensity to perspire at the podium like a racehorse. Note also, that Bernstein would not have been caught dead stepping up to the podium unshaven or sporting one of the trendy getups worn by some of today’s maestros.
The experience of sitting in a concert in the company of like-minded audience members is like no other, and it involves more than just listening. Watching the musicians on stage engaged in the act of making music enhances the concert-going experience. I have just about given up on the men who attend recitals and concerts at several of our venues to clean up their act. But when it comes to the conductors, most of them are getting paid handsomely to do their work. Is it too much to ask of our symphony conductors to shower, shave and put on some neatly pressed clothes before they go on stage?
Rafael de Acha © 2022