Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dress Codes in Concert, Please

By Bobby Chang

In light of last month’s performance of Händel’s Messiah where I sang a one-off with a friend’s church choir (since our church is woefully inept at the hands of arrogant “ministers” who prefer a no-talent pop star headed to the Oval Office instead of The Brittnee), something that I noticed in the “formal” church concert came to my attention in light of a release from the local orchestra.

The leader of the choir simply stated “tuxedoes for men, black for women,” and some of the outfits chosen by the women were outright inappropriate. While our esteemed leader and organist were properly attired, it seemed “choral dress” for women has degraded. Some of today’s women think sloppy is appropriate for choral singing and orchestras. While some wore black dresses and the jacket and slacks look (which is something that a female member in certain instruments will find much easier to wear than a dress), we had a few cases where they thought a black three-quarter sleeve top and black jeans were suitable for such formal events when the men were in dinner jackets looking as if they were Ian Fleming’s secret agent. Has feminising of today’s classical music allowed the tackiness of women in concert halls where it’s appropriate to be Henry Ford, and wear anything, provided it’s black, even if it’s a black sweatshirt, black jeans, and sneakers, something that I find inappropriate when the dinner jacket is worn? The local choral society has the women in identical dresses. And of course, I don’t think I’ve seen in a formal singing situation my teacher in anything tacky.

If the idea of singers in such casual (and tacky) clothing is bad enough, today’s churches feel that it’s suitable for “modern worship praise teams” to be badly dressed, as it has happened in too many churches. But that’s not the issue in question.

The South Carolina Philharmonic announced that a January concert of Ludwig von Beethoven pieces will be a “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” casual Masterworks concert. Why do these symphonies organise concerts with such tacky dress codes when you actively wear suits when attending and dinner jackets when performing? This type of concert just does not make any sense to those who are familiar with formal dress at events.

How many of you have orchestras that have “casual clothing accepted” concerts? It is extremely tacky and something I would never wear for such concerts. Why is the orchestra stopping that low to draw people with this cheesy dress code? Near the end of the previous decade, Kathy Troccoli presented an award for the GMA Dove Awards at the Sommet Center in a cheesy tapestry-pattern jacket and black slacks presenting next to a dinner jacket-clad Darrell Waltrip, looking like he was at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria to take home a nice trophy. The triple Sprint Cup Champion was one of the few “black tie” presenters in a show where the host, one choral group, and a few others were in dinner jackets, while the younger artists chose to be tacky. Now, at the same awards show as we are twelve months from the end of another decade, the dress of the awards show presenters had dropped to just casual clothing at an event 30 years ago would have been called a formal awards show. There were few, if any, dinner jackets.

I wonder why an orchestra would try a “blue jeans allowed” concert when I noted the tackiness of a concert where female members of the choir thought anything casual was permitted when black tie should be the rule.


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