Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and BSO Music Director Marin Alsop are passionate about breaking down barriers that separate orchestras from their audiences. In keeping with that vision, Maestra Alsop has funded a pilot partnership with Parsons The New School for Design to create new interactions between the orchestra and its audience through a re-imagining of traditional concert dress. This semester-long collaborative studio will investigate new fashions and wearable technologies that emphasize a networked world of musicians, audiences, the music being performed and the concert hall facility.
“The basic concert black worn by nearly every orchestra across the globe has been the status quo for hundreds of years,” says Maestra Alsop. “It’s time to reinvent the modern orchestra. In honor of my friend and mentor, Tomio Taki—a leader in the fashion industry and Parsons board member--I’ve invited the talented students at Parsons to apply their creativity to the concert experience. These students are innovators in design and fashion and I'm excited to see their vision for the BSO for the 21st century. Concert attire is just the start. Our goal is to erase any pre-conceived notions of what a concert should look like and create an experience that is as inspiring as the music we perform.”
To facilitate this vision, an interdisciplinary class of 16 Parsons students will spend the fall 2012 semester exploring the intersection of fashion design and technology, under the direction of Parsons faculty members Dr. Sabine Seymour and Scott Peterman, an alumnus of the Parsons MFA Design and Technology program. On Friday, September 14, Parsons students will travel to the BSO’s home, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, in Baltimore, Md. to observe the Orchestra musicians, analyze their motions and begin to visualize the interactivity, the music and to conceptualize a fashionable attire that integrates new fabrics and wearable technologies. Parsons students will document the creative process throughout the semester.
“Working with Marin is a deep honor for Parsons. Her vision and innovative spirit are unparalleled,” said Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons The New School for Design.
The final product will result in 5-10 prototypes of new concert attire for men and women in today’s modern orchestras. This project is the first stage in a long-term BSO-Parsons partnership that emphasizes new thinking and innovative design, from community programming to the concert hall environment, to help shape and advance an orchestra in the 21st century.