In which other business do bosses wear dickies?

In which other business do bosses wear dickies?


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2020

Meet John McMunn, new chief exec of the Academy of Ancient Music.

Just another musical anachronism. Just the kind of image to pull in a younger audience.

McMunn is presently general manager of the Gabrieli Consort and Players.



  • Robin Smith says:

    In engineering businesses (where I’ve worked most of my post qualification career) they are preferred to ties which might get tangled up in mechanical equipment.

    Aren’t the young supposed to be above such matters ?

  • drummerman says:

    Is it possible that “dickie” has a different meaning in England? I mean if Norman is referring to the bow tie this gentleman is wearing as a “dickie.”

  • Anon. says:

    Does it matter what he wears? As long as he is right for the job THAT is what is important. I don’t know him at all but I am sure he is the right choice and I wish Mr McMunn well.

  • Edoardo Saccenti says:

    I do not think young audiences are concerned with whom the geneal manager is or what he or she wears. I think 99.9% of the public could not mention the name of general manager of exec chef of any musical institution not even under torture…

    • Tiredofitall says:

      The name of the general manager of any arts organization should be the last thing promoted. Unless they play an instrument, sing, direct, paint, sculpt, write, curate, etc., I don’t care. Of course, general managers celebrating themselves seems to justify higher (astronomical at larger institutions) salaries and benefits that should be directed towards those creating the art.

      I am a retired director at a major arts organization and have witnessed this trend over the past four decades. Bloated administrations, both in numbers and salaries, is the most significant detriment to the arts (in the US; I can’t speak to other counties).

      • buxtehude says:


        Too many chefs is bad enough, but when they eat all the icing, it’s enough to make you want to yip!

      • HRH says:

        As someone that has worked in arts administration, I can confirm that the pay is appalling and the work tedious, constant, and overwhelming. Arts administrators do not, therefore, need egomaniacal creatives such as yourself telling them how little you value their contribution to the sector.

  • Appleby says:

    I used to play in a string quartet in which the other three members were all clinical pathologists. The two male players wore bow ties to work, largely because one doesn’t want one’s tie dangling in the chest cavity of a corpse. Blood and formaldehyde is a formidable challenge for a dry-cleaner.

    That said – Norman, you are aware of hipster bow ties, retro facial hair, The Chap, anarcho-dandyism etc? It’s actually quite an effective (and self-consciously ironic) signifier for a particular young, funky urban demographic. You’re being far too literal here. Get with it, daddy-o!

  • Alviano says:

    I have long puzzled over the British need to comment on a “dickie bow” (or is it “dicky bow”?). They clearly have a thing about bow ties.
    Probably something having to do with Dickens, Jane Austen, or public (which are really private) schools.
    The rest of the world is best off ignoring this.

    • Appleby says:

      …he says, commenting on an article on a British blog by a British commentator about dickie-bow wearning in a British orchestra…

  • E. says:

    Art gallery gentlemen of a certain age can be recognized by them. It is like a dress code.

    • Eric says:

      They can also be recognised by bauhaus eyeglasses, also much favoured by architects such as Philip Johnson.

  • nicholas sears says:

    John can wear what he wants and has for a number of years, no worries. John was a fine and intelligent singer, and I have no doubt that he will apply the requisite qualities of rigour, empathy and imagination to his new position. Please can we concentrate on more important issues, in bocca al lupo

  • Vance Koven says:

    Oi, Lebrecht! Bow ties are cool. The Doctor himself has said it, and it’s greatly to his credit.

  • Dale says:

    Looks elegant to me….what’s the big deal?

  • Monsoon says:

    Bowties are very much in with people under 40.

    Anachronistic fashion is hip.

    Same deal with the horn rim glasses.

  • Edgar Self says:

    The first I saw perform without tie was Mihelangeli, all black, even black handkerchief carefully placed inside the piano case. Then Ozawa’s Nehru jackets, and Barenboim’s open collar. Many others since.

    I agree it doesn’t matter. The custom arose from what audiences once wore, hence evening dress with stylish oncert-goers.

  • Bill says:

    This chap is wearing a bow-tie, not a dickie.

    As for the notion that only old fogies wear bow-ties, the OoOties customers must not have gotten the memo.

  • Anon says:

    It matters not what he wears – John is a fine and talented arts administrator who has gained respect in all he has done for many years, since he stopped singing.

    AAM are lucky to have him back in the fold.

  • Mathias Broucek says:

    In the business world, ALL ties have completely vanished in Zoom world. Even at Board of Directors level.

    But he’s not audience-facing so who cares?

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Can’t stand the look of a bow tie off of the concert stage. Looks silly. My opinion.