每日英語跟讀 Ep.K358: 為何要討論女性古典音樂家的穿著?Fashion, fabrics and fishtails: Why we need to talk about what female classical performers wear

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.K358: Fashion, fabrics and fishtails: Why we need to talk about what female classical performers wear

Discussing clothing is something of a taboo in classical music, for performers as much as critics. “Most musicians don’t feel like they can talk about it,” says Jocelyn Lightfoot, managing director of the London Chamber Orchestra. There is the entrenched idea that classical musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen. In this performance ideal, the performer’s personality — expressed through his or her choice of clothing — is excised, deferring to “the music itself”.

在古典音樂中,討論服裝是一種禁忌,對表演者和評論家來說都是如此。“大多數音樂家都不覺得他們可以談論它” 倫敦室內管絃樂團 (London Chamber Orchestra)董事總經理喬斯林·萊特富特(Jocelyn Lightfoot)說。有一種根深蒂固的觀念認為,古典音樂家應該是被聽到而不是被看到。在這種表演理念中,表演者的個性 - 通過他或她選擇的衣服來表達 – 都是被切除,完全源於“音樂本身”。

Those musicians who step outside the norm in their clothing choices have, accordingly, been subject to severe criticism. But at least part of the controversy surrounding artists like violinist Nigel Kennedy, with his jeans and spiky hair, is that they remind us that live music is a visual medium. We don’t just hear — we see musicians performing.

因此,那些在服裝選擇上超越常規的音樂家受到了嚴厲的批評。但是,圍繞著小提琴家奈傑爾·甘迺迪(Nigel Kennedy)等牛仔褲和尖頭髮的藝術家的爭議至少有一部分的人,他們提醒我們,現場音樂是一種視覺媒介。我們不只是聽到 - 我們也看到音樂家表演

For women, the stakes of their clothing choices are considerably higher because women are more frequently sexualized than their male counterparts. While Kennedy’s informal clothes were criticized by some as “ludicrous,” the furore around pianist Yuja Wang betrays this double standard. As much ink has been spilt over Wang’s hemlines as her playing – and with a couple of exceptions, commentary has focused on how “short and tight” her dresses are.


The problem isn’t that critics are talking about Wang’s clothes. It’s that by viewing everything she wears through a sexualized lens, they’re presenting her as a sexual object first and an artist second. There is no room in this worldview for women’s clothes to be both an artistic and personal choice.

Perhaps part of the issue is that fashion lies outside the traditional classical critic’s toolkit.


The inability to talk about Wang’s clothing in a sensitive and respectful way reveals damaging and longstanding assumptions around women and their dress on the classical stage. The notion that what we see might “distract from” music, rather than shape our experience of it, stems from a centuries-old division of body and mind, physicality and rationality, that claims classical music as purely cerebral stuff. The body has no place here. And this idea is gendered. Rationality and the mind have historically been coded masculine, sensuality and the body feminine, with the result that women and their bodies have been marginalized within classical music.


The denial of Wang’s agency also feeds into racist stereotypes around the submissiveness and inexpressiveness of both women and classical musicians of Asian descent — stereotypes that Wang’s clothing choices actively disrupt.


We need to find ways of talking about women’s clothes that respect them as artistic choices, and integral to performance. Dress is becoming more important as questions around diversity and inclusion are pushed to the forefront of institutions’ agendas. The London Chamber Orchestra, for example, has recently removed the dress code for its players. Dispensing with the heavily gendered expectations of black tie is partly, Lightfoot says, to celebrate the individuality of the orchestra’s players and build an inclusive space for musicians whose “way of expressing themselves physically doesn’t fit with that classical music stereotype.” But it’s also to create a “mirror between the audience and orchestra,” reaching out to those “who don’t feel welcome in a concert hall.”

我們需要找到談論女性服裝的方法,尊重她們的藝術選擇,並且是表演不可或缺的一部分。隨著圍繞多樣性和包容性的問題被推到機構議程的最前沿,著裝變得越來越重要。例如,倫敦室內管絃樂團(London Chamber Orchestra)最近取消了對演奏者的著裝要求。萊特富特說,摒棄對黑色領帶的高度性別化的期望,部分原因是為了慶祝樂團演奏者的個性,併為那些“表達自己身體的方式不符合古典音樂刻板印象”的音樂家建立一個包容性的空間。但這也是為了在觀眾和管弦樂隊之間創造一面鏡子,向那些“在音樂廳里不受歡迎的人”伸出援手。

Moreover, social media has made classical music “so much more visual” says Maxine Kwok, a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra. Orchestras and soloists alike are now attuned to the branding possibilities it offers, from sharing clips of concerts to photographs of rehearsals in jeans and jumpers. And this can, perhaps, be a way of making musicians more accessible.

此外,社交媒體使古典音樂“更加直觀”,倫敦交響樂團的小提琴家Maxine Kwok說。管弦樂隊和獨奏家現在都適應了它提供的品牌可能性,從分享音樂會的剪輯到穿著牛仔褲和毛衣排練的照片。這也許可以成為使音樂家更容易接近的一種方式。



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