Tomorrow evening is a big test for Dunedin.
It is a big test for a city of embarrassingly dressed men and
women who would not know a smart suit jacket and a well cut
pair of pants if that apparel dragged them into an alley and
made fast and loose with their modesty.
It is a big test, because the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
is coming to town to play Beethoven's 7th Symphony.
They are coming to town, it will be a big night out, and if I
see that fellow with the beige pants and Fair Isle jersey and
the brown shoes with scuff marks I saw at the last orchestral
event I will take to him with my walking stick, by God.
It wasn't always this way.
In times gone by it didn't matter where you were from, you
wore a smart overcoat and a hat, and you wore a tie even when
you were working in the garden.
So let's get this right.
It is unfortunate that legendary conductor Bernard Johan
Herman Haitink, CH, KBE and the Koninklijk
Concertgebouworkest (also known as the The Royal
Concertgebouw Orchestra) are not performing the wonderful
7th Symphony on the Arts Channel before tomorrow
If the performance were not being broadcast on December 5,
some of the more embarrassing Dunedin orchestra-goers might
have been able to have a look at how such events go down
Beige pants are - conspicuously - not worn.
Woolly jerseys are not in evidence.
Take a clue or two from Bernard Johan Herman Haitink, CH,
He enters the Concertgebouw on his 80th birthday, climbing
the steps to the stage in a manner most dignified, with the
help of a walking stick.
He places the stick beneath the conductor's podium and stands
erect, in his full 80-year-old glory.
He has a white bow tie.
He has a white baton.
He has - get this - the most superb white cummerbund.
It is that sense of dress - that attention to every detail
sartorial or otherwise that puts him in such a commanding
position in front of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest.
It may be why at 80 years of age he is happily married for
the fourth time.
The old devil.
Then, of course, there is Beethoven's 7th.
Not the first movement, which is good.
But the second movement - the allegretto - which is sublime.
It is majestic.
It is triumphant and euphoric, an ocean of deep yearning set
And everyone who goes to see it dresses - or should dress -
And I will be there.
With my walking stick and a skinful of cheap sherry.
- Charles Loughrey