Musical “Style”

Chanel Piano Dress

"Piano" Dress, 1995 Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel Silk

Every year our Northeast Pennsylvania Music Teacher’s Association holds auditions for students to compete for a chance to perform in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, NYC. It’s a big deal for the students and their families. And often more than one child from the same family has an opportunity to perform. I have a second grader preparing Susan Ogilvy’s Toccatina for next month’s audition. Last year her older sister auditioned and scored enough points with Lynn Freeman Olson’s Sword Dance to play in New York.

The younger sister came in to her last lesson and couldn’t wait to tell me all about her new audition dress, new shoes, stockings and even matching hair bow. Then she told me that she and her sister were looking over the judge’s score sheet from last year and noticed that the older sister had been awarded two points for “style” and she wanted to make sure she’d get points in that category, too.

She should definitely get points in the musical style category because she’s been practicing under tempo with the articulated finger staccato that the Toccatina requires. Add to that the fabulous new outfit she’s planning to wear and she’ll definitely get the two points!

As a performer it is possible to take it one step further and combine fashion and music and come up with a new performance experience. That’s just what pianist, Sugar Vendil has done with the Nouveau Classical Project. On their website they describe themselves as:

… a group that reimagines the classical music concert, creating a place where fashion and music converge. In a time where audiences tastes have grown more diverse, we offer a fresh and exciting way to experience art music that will satisfy cultural omnivores.

We provide a platform for emerging composers, fashion designers, musicians, and artists to showcase their talents to the creative and curious listeners of New York City. We achieve this with our concert series and events, where we create opportunities for contemporary composers to have original work presented. At NCP we also do not take the visual element for granted: fashion, informed by a modern perspective, matches the music. Musicians garments (our ensembles ensemble) are styled by fashion designers, who base their inspiration on the music we program.

Sugar Vendil is interviewed in this story in “Sonic Scoop”

“I think part of what’s killed classical music is that people want to keep it in a ‘certain place,” Vendil says. Instead, she is succeeding in breathing new creativity and life into the classical scene in New York City, or as some in the city are calling it, the “nouveau classical scene.”  NCP’s slogan, “Classical Music is Dead,” is a tongue-in-cheek catch phrase – one that often evokes a feeling of rebellious urgency to the genre’s many aficionados who see it on T-shirts across the city.

Since this and this are two of my guilty pleasures, I absolutely love her idea of intertwining of fashion with music and art. (Check this old project of mine while it’s still online…)

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