Dress for symphony musicians is mandatory--white tie and tails for the men, and long black for the women. The men do look very handsome in their tails. If you could only see these blokes earlier in the week at rehearsal. What a transformation! "Long black" for us women means a floor-length black dress or skirt, long sleeves, no white or other color trimming, no jewelry, and no décolletage. We don't want to distract the audience from listening to the music now do we? We can wear pants if they are loose and flowing. It is very helpful for us, also, if the outfit is also washable, and dare we say it--comfortable?
A long time ago, I played for a conductor who didn't just stare at you to show his displeasure, he glared. And as one of the other musicians commented, his glare was a mile wide so no matter who was the momentary object of his dissatisfaction, we all felt like guilty culprits. We were playing a piece, I don't remember which one, that consisted of several movements. To encourage the audience not to clap and spoil the mood until the entire work is completed, conductors like to go from one movement to the next in such a piece without a break--attacca. We came to the end of a slow and dreamy movement, and were pausing briefly with our instruments up and ready, before beginning a movement that was a perpetual motion kind of thing. That means once we start, we play non-stop to the end. It's usually all eighth or sixteenth notes and very fast.
During that hushed pause, my bra strap slipped down my arm inside my long sleeve. No one could see it, but it was very uncomfortable and prevented me from getting my bow arm into the right position for the next movement. I looked up and there was the glare coming at me. I thought, oh now what do I do? If I kept myself frozen as the conductor wanted there would be no place in the music to make an adjustment of the errant strap. And I certainly would not be able to play my best with my arm constrained like that either. Mentally, I sent this guy the message, look the other way! (Actually it was, look the other way, Stupid!) He wasn't getting the message. By now, under the bright stage lights, I felt like all 3,000 pairs of eyes in the audience were looking my way, too.
Finally, in desperation, I reached inside my blouse, pulled up the annoying strap with a firm tug, and glared back at the Maestro. He got the message! The music began and we played triumphantly to the finish. Now I am always sure to pin my straps in place before every concert. I'm taking no more chances.
Last night it was cold enough for me to wear my new Ironstone scarf, too. Not on stage, just going to and from the theater. I made two of these, one for my daughter-in-law and one for myself. There was no pattern, I just made it up as I went along, so the two are not exactly alike. The yarn is Showstopper, in black, of course.