Getting ready to perform a concert is a special time, full of anticipation of the thrills to come, satisfaction at the hard work spent in practice and rehearsal, and the prospect of sharing the music that you love with an audience (often, in our case consisting mainly of family and friends). Of course, at the moment we’re all missing this experience terribly. For non-professional musicians, the impact is already significant, on an emotional, adversely affecting our mental health. For professional musicians whose livelihood depends on live performance, the consequences are obviously even more serious.
On Saturday 6th February 2021, we’d have been performing an exciting programme at the Great Hall, University of Reading, possibly more than once in a day like we did last February. We’ve presented concerts at the end of January/beginning of February for the last 15 years. Rehearsing on the preceding weekends is a great way to focus and beat away the bleak winter post-Christmas blues.
I noticed that organist, conductor and broadcaster Anna Lapwood tweeted about buying a new dress and having to nowhere to wear it for the foreseeable future, and therefore wearing it to watch Netflix. I half-jokingly replied suggesting a musicians’ night in where we all dress up in our finery and watch Netflix. So we’re going to do it. It’s called ‘Dress up to stay in’ – #DressUpToStayIn
Now let me clear up precisely who can take part and what I mean by ‘finery’. Firstly, anyone can take part, anywhere. Musicians of any genre and audience members, too. Or indeed anyone who enjoys musical performance. Secondly, ‘finery’. There’s a myth we like to bust at APO that you have to dress up to come to a classical concert. You absolutely don’t – but many people do like to ‘make an evening of it’ (or a morning, afternoon etc.). From the musicians’ perspective, dressing up is part of what makes the performance special. But to be clear, there is usually absolutely no dress code and there certainly isn’t for this bit of fun. If your normal performance attire is white tie and tails or a lovely dress and you fancy cutting a bit of a dash, go for it. Equally, if you prefer an all-black ensemble, that’s great, or maybe something smart casual, or whatever takes your fancy.
If you’re an audience member and you like to dress up for your morning/afternoon/evening out that’s equally lovely. Or if you prefer to wear whatever’s comfortable to a live music event, that’s super. Indeed, if practicality is high on your agenda and you feel like wearing your cycling gear like that chap at the Proms with the slightly-too-revealing shorts – knock yourself out!
What you wear is your choice, as is whether you want to share a photo of yourself on social media with the hashtag #DressUpToStayIn. If you’re happy to share, it would be lovely to see lots of musicians and music lovers taking part, reminding us of the wonderful community of musicians and music lovers in Reading, the UK, the world and indeed the universe.
Also optional is a donation to a cause supporting professional musicians, many of whom have been excluded from Government support schemes. It’s entirely voluntary, but if you’re in a fortunate financial position and feel, like us, that solidarity with professional musicians, other artists and those who work behind the scenes is important, here are a couple of options:
- Our crowdfunder for a post-Covid professional concert (many of the musicians have already been paid an advance of the minimum fee, but any extra we get will be split evenly among them when the concert takes place)
- Amelia Conway-Jones’ fantastic, ‘Musicians for Musicians’
Then all that’s left is to grab a brew or a glass of your favourite tipple and settle down in front of the telly, perhaps taking a moment before you do to close your eyes and remember that special pre-gig feeling, if you haven’t already sensed it from the act of putting on your concert glad rags. By taking part in #DressUpToStayIn, we’re doing our part to get through this horrible pandemic, coming together in an emotional sense, and looking forward to the time when we will get the chance to perform again.