Casual Classical: SC Philharmonic’s "Beethoven & Blue Jeans" Concert Wearing Well after Twenty Years

Jan 11, 2019

Traditionally, a night at the symphony has entailed dressing up. For performers and audience members alike, the sight of a sharply-dressed crowd is nearly as much of a given as the sound of orchestral music.   

But the move toward a more casual concert experience is becoming a tradition in its own right, including in the Palmetto State.

Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic
Credit Bradley Fuller / South Carolina Public Radio

After two decades, the South Carolina Philharmonic’s annual “Beethoven & Blue Jeans” concert continues to offer classical music in a casual-clothes setting.

“The idea that was devised twenty years ago was to make it more fun and approachable for the audience,” said Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director of the philharmonic.  “The orchestra members all wear denim. We all wear blue jeans. And we encourage everybody else in the audience to wear their blue jeans as well.”

According to Morihiko, the gentlemen of the orchestra are especially grateful for a chance to leave their white ties and tailcoats behind: “They love Beethoven & Blue Jeans because, at least compared to what they normally have to wear at concerts, it’s just so much more comfortable.”

In this interview that aired Friday, January 11th, SCPR’s Bradley Fuller speaks with Morihiko about the origins of “Beethoven & Blue Jeans,” as well as the selections for this year’s concert. Works by Beethoven and Adam Schoenberg will be performed, with guest artist Sayaka Shoji joining the orchestra for Brahms’ Violin Concerto.  The concert will take place at Columbia’s Koger Center on January 12th at 7:30pm.

More information can be found here.