The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Blue jeans for Beethoven? Will concert attendance rise if audiences dress more casually?

November 30, 2013
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As we come into the holiday concert season, many people who are not normally attracted to classical music concerts will be planning to attend musical events.

And on many minds will be one question: How should I dress?

It seems a small worry, but in a larger sense it is an important and interesting question.

What do we mean by casual?

No ties certainly, but what about sports jackets and sweaters?

Are blue jeans OK?

blue jeans pocket

And if the presenters of musical events accept very casual dress, what will performers think?

And will there be an increase in audience attendance? Will more young people or unusual audiences attend concerts? (That is something that seems possible, judging from the larger and enthusiastic crowds, below, of families and young people in jeans, shorts and T-shorts that I see at concerts given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.)

WYSO young audience

The terrific British pianist Stephen Hough (below), who has performed in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Overture Center with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, recently blogged about this very question.

Hough makes some very good points, both for and against a casual approach to attending a concert.

It is well worth reading. And be sure to check out the many reader comments.

Here is a link:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/100071710/dressing-up-dressing-down-does-it-affect-how-many-come-to-concerts/

Hough_Stephen_color16

What do you think?

Should people be allowed or even encouraged to come in casual dress, including blue jeans?

Does more formal dress show respect?

Will audiences become bigger and more diverse without any kind of dress code?

The Ear wants to hear.


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