Breakfast Banter

Beards and Music

Recently we attended a memorial concert honoring the former principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The performers were members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who have formed the Boston Cello Quartet.

The players are all male. It seemed odd to me that in these return-of-facial-hair days, all four were clean-shaven. I mentioned that to the woman sitting next to me. “Oh,” she said, “symphony orchestras don’t allow beards. It can interfere with the music.” I let it go, but it didn’t make sense to me.

Two weeks later, I took my new computer to the Apple Store to clear up a few problems. The young man who helped me ran some diagnostic tests.

While the tests were running, we talked. Turns out he is only a part-timer at Apple. He works there to get the benefits that he doesn’t get as a freelance orchestra conductor. He hopes to get a job as an assistant-conductor of a major symphony in the near future.

Since he had nicely-groomed facial hair, I couldn’t resist asking him about orchestral beards. He assured me that many of his musician friends, including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, have beards.

So I got more out of my afternoon at the Apple Store than I expected. My computer is fine. But, more important, I have the answer to my musicians’ facial hair question. I can’t wait to correct the woman who sat next to me at the memorial concert.  


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