The best (and worst) orchestra shoes in the world

The best (and worst) orchestra shoes in the world


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2014

A discussion with orchestra friends raised the vexed (and little treated) question of podiatric etiquette. What should players wear on their feet, for comfort and elegance, in both rehearsal and concert? Which would you say is the best (and worst) shod orchestra on the world?

Do send in some pictures*.

This, for instance, is orchestra wear in Charlotte, North Carolina.

shoes charlotte

These, apparently, were seen in a BBC Symphony orchestra concert.

shoes bbc

This is the Wroclaw Philharmonic (Poland), definitely a no-no.


shoes Wroclaw Philharmonic-1-2

Not sure about these: Eduardo Marturet wears specially donated Donald Pliner shoes while conducting the Miami MISO. They look like carpet slippers.

shoes pliner

Are those two-tones in Philly?


And there’s more here. Including socks.


*send pics to


  • NYMike says:

    Woo woo for Charlotte 🙂

  • CA says:

    First off, one picture is against a blue floor or fake background so it could be anywhere; another is on a carpet so it could even be a patron at intermission; and the Poland if not also the Philadelphia one appear to be during rehearsal and as far as I know there is no musician dress code for rehearsals

  • thomas p says:

    what about shoeless percussionists?

  • Dan says:

    How can we email a photo to you?

  • Michael says:

    The best shoes are the ones that get you out of the hall after the concert the quickest.

  • MarieTherese says:

    I thought that I was the only one who ended up mesmerized by the the array of footwear on the stage! While there seems to be no consensus on what is to be worn by female orchestra members, I am perplexed as to why a world class orchestra would tolerate the men not matching their shoes to the dress level. White tie and tails demand a patent dress pump, not a pair of scuffed up loafers and an expanse of bare leg because one’s pants are too short.

    So, who is responsible for overseeing the “look” of the group, the conductor, orchestra management?

  • David Nice says:

    Well, I do have to say that the fluorescent-lit shoes at the Barbican belong to the lovely Emily Kershaw, BBC Radio 3 Producer, as my text makes clear. I do love them, though, and I’m no sucker for footwear.

  • Simon says:

    NYOUSA. Star-spangled sneakers.

  • micaela says:

    Almost as interesting as orchestra shoes are SOLOIST shoes! Hilary Hahn played with us recently and all eyes were on the amazing designer stiletto heels she wore to rehearsals. My curiousity got the best of me and I had to ask her if it was difficult to perform in such high heels.

    Typically down-to-earth, she replied that for performances she never wore such fancy shoes. What does she wear? She explained that since her long gown covers so much, she goes for comfort with practical flat footwear.

    Specifically, she explained, in performance she wears only Tom’s Shoes. I had to look this up.Tom’s

    makes simple, sensible footwear and they donate much of their proceeds to children in 3rd world nations. For every pair you buy, they donate a pair to a child in a 3rd world nation. There’s much more – read about it here: and BRAVA, Hilary!

  • Cynthia says:

    Eduardo Marturet wears these “glam” shoes while musicians in his orchestra go without pay for a year. Hmmm…what’s wrong with this picture?