I got into an argument with a friend recently. The subject of my jury was brought up. I started to explain the repertoire and how I imagined it would all go down. I ended the explanation with a bit of a poke I knew she was not going to like:
“...and like hell I am wearing a gown.”
My friend’s face dropped and her pupils centered, she was obviously offended in some way, or maybe just confused? She delved:
“Well, what do you mean? What are you going to wear?”
I described my supposed black pant suit with red flowers.
“Well, just to tell you now, people are going to think it odd. And you may get in trouble.”
I hesitate to say it, but I live for these debates, so we went head to head on this touchy subject, eventually coming to no conclusion or agreement, as it tends to happen with conversations of art, freedom, and censorship. She will do her thing, and I will do mine. her reaction has been plaguing me so I did some research trying to find some examples of classical musicians who went against the norm and stepped outside of tradition.
The most discussed example I could find was from 2011. Yuja Wang, an infamous concert pianist, was being blasted and equally applauded for wearing a less than formal skimpy orange dress for her performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Here is a great photograph of the scandalous event.
This photograph is great because of the disapproving gentleman behind her. This dress got so much press from this event, it shattered the classical music image for that window of a week. There was a plethora of critiques which ranged a wide spectrum:
“I cannot believe she wore that!”
“Good for her, being herself on stage.”
“She thinks she can do whatever she wants because she has made it as a classical musician.”
“It is a feminist move.”
And so on... I am not quite sure how I feel about the orange dress but I like that she did something as an individual, hopefully not for the attention, but more for artistic reasoning. This is something I would like to see in the future of classical music. More bold decisions, less tradition and rules. Of course we are speaking only of what to wear, but the possibilities are endless for what can be represented through the music and the art mixed together. I can see it going very wrong, but I would at least like to see an effort. Why not explore what more a performance can be?
Heres the 2011 article.