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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
HallÚ Orchestra may drop 'penguin suit'
Manchester's Bridgewater Hall
The HallÚ is based at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall
Manchester's HallÚ Orchestra is considering dropping the traditional "penguin" suit for its concerts.

In common with most major orchestras, male musicians normally take the stage in evening dress with tails - but this may change as the orchestra looks at ways of reaching bigger audiences.

The orchestra plays in 19th century costume, when the audience no longer dresses like that

HallÚ spokesman
The HallÚ, founded in 1858, has recently recovered from a grave financial crisis and been rewarded with an Arts Council of England "stabilisation" grant of ú3.8m.

It has also launched a new logo in consultation with brand marketing specialists Wolff Olins.

Now the orchestra is looking at changing the dress style of its musicians, after conducting research among concert goers.

Orchestral musicians
Most orchestras adopt the "penguin suit" for concerts
"We have had a lot of feedback from younger members of the audience," a HallÚ spokesman told BBC News Online.

"They're asking why the orchestra plays in 19th Century costume when the audience no longer dresses like that.

But the HallÚ has stressed that no decision has been taken yet.

"We won't throw the baby out with the bathwater," said the spokesman.

"A lot of people think the traditional impression of an orchestra is a good thing, and marks it out from other kinds of evenings out."

The HallÚ's new branding
The HallÚ is relaunching its visual branding
Designers have been asked to consider a dress style that would be "timeless": "If it's too fashionable it's out of date tomorrow."

The spokesman added there had been no opposition to the idea from the orchestral musicians.

The HallÚ is also to launch its own record label in Spring 2003.

The orchestra has promised the new label will ensure total artistic freedom and intends to release both live and studio recordings, as well as archive reissues going back to rare 1920s recordings.

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