Meet the Sydney Symphony Musicians
So, why the white tie?
It’s a fair question. And it’s one we get asked a lot. The short answer is that the cut of this outfit makes everyone look good. But for me, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It does have history – form, if you will. Symphony orchestras (as we know them now) roared into existence in early 19th-century Europe, and the art of stepping out and going to the theatre demanded formal dress of everyone attending, including musicians. So, there’s the historical link. Tradition duly acknowledged.
After decades as a professional musician, I no longer think about the outfit as formal or overly fancy. It now means something else. The fact that we all dress in monochrome and the same style (female members of the orchestra being allowed some small, expressive latitude) speaks to the idea that we’re united in music – and united around its performance. Music is front and centre and all of us – musicians and audience members – become some part of that music.
So, there you have it. White tie – in honour of the music and of you, our audience. Incidentally, when you join us at a performance you're welcome to wear whatever you want.
There’s always a moment when we’re playing on the Concert Hall stage when I think ‘Wow!’. There could be around 100 or 120 of us, all playing as one. The sheer number and variety of instruments in an orchestra is magnificent, but what is extraordinary and awe-inspiring is the sound we make. Our whisper is as powerful as our roar.
The music creates an energy as it leaves our instruments and flows among our audience. And as you, in the audience, hear and absorb it, I feel that energy reflected back to me on stage. Though we may come together in the same hall that evening as strangers, from the first notes there’s a connection that makes all of us a community – united by the same thing. Music.
And it needn’t just be in concert halls. I see school kids experiencing the sights and sound of our orchestra – perhaps for the first time – in wide-eyed wonder; I feel the joy music brings to patients in hospitals, the warm welcome of country audiences when we tour, or just the relaxation and joy on a balmy Sydney summer evening at an outdoor concert. Together we create and share in this wonderful energy together. There are so many ‘Wow’ moments.