One of our favorite things this weekend was attending a concert by the Eroica Trio at the La Jolla Music Society. For those of you that might not know, The Eroica Trio is a piano trio (piano, violin, cello) that has made a fairly well-known name for themselves adapting classical and other pieces into chamber music sort of format.
The first thing that you might notice about the Eroica Trio is that they’re women – and attractive women at that. And rather than the standard stodgy classical-performance black formal attire, they announced their presence with authority* — coming out in flowing gowns in bright spring colors. The Beloved noted that they were each wearing very good shoes. They gave a really good performance – with an interesting program that featured pieces dating from the late 18th century into the 20th. Great night.
After the concert, I was thinking of a book that I had read a couple of years ago about classical performers and how many orchestras had changed their auditions such that applicants were behind curtains or screens – in this way avoiding unconscious (or more blatant, I suppose) biases of the evaluators. Once that practice became more commonplace, the average orchestra member began to deviate from the middle-aged white guy in a tux – because it turns out that people that are young, heavily pigmented and/or have a uterus can be pretty good musicians, too.
And so, afterwards – remembering that book and turning the idea on its head, I wondered if I would have enjoyed the Eroica Trio concert as much if they’d been behind a screen, or if they’d been three dumpy white guys? And if they catch the eye of more people by being young and pretty and so bring classical music to some that might otherwise not listen, does that matter?
*bonus points for the reference