Each year I serve on the adjudication panel for the University Interscholastic League’s Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest where I judge brass ensembles. After the recent competition this past week, I thought that it would be beneficial to give some insight regarding attire for chamber ensembles.
There were some fine performances during the 3-day contest. However, I was a little shocked at the lack of dress and uniformity of some groups. I feel that it is very important to dress nice for any performance situation but even more so for a competition on a state level. There were some tips discussed in a previous blog that some might find helpful.
As for chamber ensembles, I believe that it is very important for musicians to buy into the idea of uniformity. For the most part, every sports team member wears the same uniform (with the exception of soccer) for a good reason. You will also see this same school of thought with many pop groups. I like to think about the old school Motown groups: The Temptations, The Supremes, Jackson 5, etc. It was very rare that you would see the lead singers of these respective groups (David Ruffin, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson) dress different from the other members. The same standard is also shown through chamber ensembles such as the Canadian Brass, Emerson String Quartet and the Claremont Trio.
First impressions are always very important and if ¼ of a quartet is wearing jeans while the others are dressed nice, it sends a bad message to your audience even if they sound great. It was nice to see some ensembles that did a great job in taking the extra step in looking like a real chamber ensemble, even if they haven’t been playing together for a long time. I applaud each ensemble for doing so. I also enjoyed seeing how some group’s that consisted of mix genders did a great job matching. One particular quartet coordinated the ladies’ headbands with the gentlemen’s ties. These chamber ensemble attire ideas can be done in a cost efficient manner with a little creativity.
Happy practicing and live the dream!