There are many approaches to concert attendance attire, spurred on by many different issues.  Here I’d like to put my ideas about formal vs. informal attire out on the web to see what you think.

When I attended the Yale composition seminar on October 27th which had featured guest lecturer Matthias Pintscher, the issue of concert attendance attire came up.  While I won’t comment on who said what, it was said that music is such a profound thing that concertgoers should get dressed up for concerts, and that classical music concertgoers shouldn’t wear jeans or other casual attire; the music demands more respect than that.

I’d like to challenge this, because it seems to me that the issue is treating the music with dignity, and this can be achieved even if you’re wearing jeans.  I think you can still treat music with dignity and wear casual attire.  The treatment of music should be about your conduct, not what you look like.  There are exceptions: overly racy clothes and clothes that obstruct others’ views of the performers shouldn’t be worn, but besides these, I feel people should be able to wear what they like.  The things that should be addressed are conduct issues, such as not using your cell phone while the musicians are performing, not being obnoxious to the performers or other audience members by chatting, not letting your kids run around in the concert space when the concert is happening, etc.  This is all common sense stuff!  If we act in a respectable manner, then it shouldn’t matter what clothes we wear.

I think that overly formal concertwear can actually be a stigma to the classical music scene, and prevent would-be audience members from attending.  If I’m dressed stiflingly uncomfortably in a tuxedo and feel like I’m surrounded by a mass of dressed up penguins in some arcane ritual, I would be less inclined to attend future concerts.  We need to have open invitations to concerts, not rigorous prerequisites for attendance.  If we can’t be open towards other people and their garb, how can we expect them to return the favor and be open to our music?  I understand that music is a supreme celestial body, but at some point respect has to be balanced and examined; you respect things through your actions, and your garb has much less of an effect on whether you respect something.  Concertgoers aren’t interviewing for corporate positions; let people be comfortable enough to enjoy the real reasons they came to the venue: the performance, players, and music.Penguin in Fancy Tux

What do you think?

Thanks for your continued reading!

Dan