In early November, I was lucky enough to be invited by an old boss of mine to accompany her to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with Charles Dutoit conducting Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.
I gladly accepted, because: (a) I'm a sucker for a good orchestra; (b) have always loved that piece, ever since my father introduced me to it when I was about 8; and (c) I've never seen the MSO perform before and thought it would be a good introduction to their work.
So off I trotted. A tad late, due to train delays (some muppet of a Spring Racing Carnival patron got a bit legless and fell in front of a train at Southern Cross Station which meant I was stuck between stations for ages), but I made it to the Town Hall just in time.
And so to my first experience of the MSO.
They're very good. And under Dutoit's direction, they're very, very, VERY good.
They're also exceptionally shoddily turned out.
Or at least the women are.
Its a trend I've noticed with a number of symphony orchestras over the years. Men pop on a penguin suit and bam! They all look pretty decent. Or at least consistent in their attire.
Women on the other hand... well.
Since the ages of the ladies in the MSO range from late teens to late sixties, their wardrobe choices naturally range from Supre and Dotti to Katies and Millers (and everything in between). And some of it was ghastly. Actually, most of it was ghastly. The two lead viola players looked to be wearing variations of black lace doilies. It hurt me to look at them.
Now I realise that these people are elite classical musicians, and it should not matter what they wear. But when their outfits distract and detract from their performance, something needs to be done. It's all very well to stipulate a dress code of "formal blacks", but given the obvious lack of style possessed by the majority of those musicians, I think the MSO need to be a bit more specific in their instructions.
The gang over at the ACO twigged onto the "not all musicians can dress themselves decently" fact early on and brought in fashion designer Akira Isogawa to design their outfits. His designs are simple, uncluttered and flattering to all shapes and sizes. And when you're designing for heights as varied as Aiko Goto who's well under 5' to Maxime Bibeau who's well over 6' that's a pretty big challenge. But they all look classy and every time I've seen them I've been impressed with every element of the performance, aurally and visually.
I've checked out your website. You've got an impressive list of sponsors and suppliers. However I think you really need to add a designer in there. Obviously not Akira, but perhaps Wayne Cooper or someone along those lines? They'd get the kudos of their designs being seen to an entirely different audience and you'd get an orchestra that doesn't looked like they've been dragged backwards through a hedge.