Today, in order to attract young audiences (or maybe quite simply an audience) all efforts are oriented in the same direction: to show you that classical music is not boring nor rigid, and that you, too, are likely to appreciate it. Shortened concerts, lunchtime concerts (a little bit of Beethoven between sandwich and office), concert programs with two doses of film music for one of classical, standardization of programs so the audience does not feel “lost” (It has often been proved that the public comes to see what they already know), and so on. Well, I’m telling you, this is all wrong: classical music is not cool.
I will devote some posts to review the attempts at a makeover administered to our old friend. My objective: to show you that all this is useless and does more harm than good. Today, in this first part, I will focus on the dress code issue.
The concert ritual is often considered as being too strict, notably concerning the dress code. The public must feel comfortable, I agree with it, but one should not forget what clothing as a social code represents.
Imagine one moment you are in the artist’s shoes. You enter the stage and find the concert hall with most of the spectators wearing torn jeans, jogging suits and mini-skirts. Horreur! It would certainly make you wonder what’s happening here and why are you wearing a tuxedo. We could reverse the roles: you are in the audience and the artist enters the stage in a sloppy dress, almost in pajamas, what would be your reaction? And yes, you cannot deny it, you would be shocked (there has been precedents).
Indeed, as a pianist, I like people dressed “like penguins”. It is not bourgeois folklore, but simply a mark of respect to the artist. One cannot either deny the aesthetic side: a well-dressed public is much nicer from the stage.
The dress, be it the artist or the public, is a way to communicate. Both communicate their mutual respect to each other through the sartorial code. When one knows how easy it is to slip into a dress or a suit, it would be a shame not to do so.
In the next episode of Is it necessary to give Classical Music a facelift? We will talk about programming. See you soon!