Category Archives: orchestra

Unapologetically Comfortable

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Kathryn in Purple Fleece

I think I have never liked dressing to please others; I have always dressed to please myself. But sometimes societal constrictions force us into changing the ways in which we perceive ourselves.  Sometimes one has to put one’s bluejeans aside and simply dress up for that play, concert or party or meeting.  It’s a sad fact, but we do what we must.

I love comfort, but I would never wear my pajamas out in public.  But this is really the initial thought behind starting Brava!  I was looking for something that packed well and traveled easily, no-ironing or worrying about wrinkles.  I found these great Bamboo pieces from Bay Area designer, Carole Wang.  I thought they were pretty, and I wore them out to dinner one night.  Now usually when I come home after dressing up for some occasion, I can’t wait to change out of my clothing into something more comfortable.  Not this time.  I forgot to change. and I knew I was onto something.  I returned to the little boutique to buy more pieces.  Selection was limited, so I bought what I could, but I wanted more.

Months later, I decided to investigate the possibility that a lot of other women would be interested in feminine, practical, ecologically sustainable clothing too.I did an informal survey, the results of which led to Brava!  I now lead a

busy life, spreading the word to theater performers, orchestral musicians, housewives, and business professionals, and mothers. Brava! clients are all ages and all sizes, but we all share one important thing in common – we’re comfortable!

 

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Outstanding in Orchestral Blacks!

Patricia Heller

Patricia Heller

We all know how the right scarf can add dimension and visual appeal to our everyday clothing, but what about our Orchestral Blacks?  We’re not allowed to wear any colors in the orchestra pit.  We accept this as a part of everyday work life.  Sometimes we sneak a pretty piece of jewelry, earrings or a nice pin, but truthfully jewelry can get in the way of serious musicianship.  So, how do we differentiate ourselves from the other dozen women in the pit when we are all wearing black?

We are talking about fit and style.  Your clothing has to fit properly, be comfortable and appropriate.  Your Black pieces must match; not an easy thing.  Over the years you’ve collected various Blacks in different fabrics and styles, now in all different stages of wear.  It’s probably time to donate or throw out those items which no longer fit properly, are out of style, or do not match anything.

A common rule for weeding out one’s closet is, that if you haven’t worn something in two years, get rid of it!  I think that’s nonsense.  I have had some of the same dresses for over thirty years, and have no plans to discard them.  Well-loved, well-designed clothing deserves some respect.  This may sound trivial, but I believe how one presents oneself, especially in the workplace, makes a real difference in how one is perceived.  A Brava! Consultant can help you make these decisions.  The second rule is style.

Let’s clean out our closets and put together a Working Wardrobe!  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to throw on an outfit for work, and know you’re looking perfect?  It’s all in the pre-planning.  For instance, this 2016-2017 season, the San Francisco Opera has seventy performances.  That’s seventy different times the women in the Orchestra have to find something in Concert Black to wear. Seventy outfits, which have to span the quirky Bay Area weather patterns from September through December, then May to July.  Our Brava! fabric in Bamboo and Organic Cotton is perfect for this.  It’s cooler in summer, and warmer in winter. The comfortable knit moves with your body, and there’s no static cling.

We offer many different styles which suit all body types, XS – 3X.  And even better, we custom fit even before the garment is made, at no extra charge. No alterations necessary.  Our designer, Carole Wang, is based locally, in Fremont, so turnaround time is usually fairly short.  We make sure ahead of time that your Black garments match from the same dye lots.  Little or no color fading or shrinkage guarantee your Orchestral Blacks remain attractive and work-ready for a long while.

 

The Perfect Brava! Model

Patty in Teal Button OutfitOur friend, Patty, is a perfect example of that skill my sister used to call, “Throwing it on and looking perfect”. We asked Patty, a Bay Area orchestral musician, to model in our last fashion show, and frankly, we would love her to model at all of our shows.  She was energetic, fun, and clearly enjoyed herself.  We asked her to bring two of her own Brava! outfits to model, since she had already purchased those samples, and Patty brought ALL of her Brava! clothes, and insisted on wearing them.  We didn’t object; this kind of enthusiasm is contagious!

Everything Patty tries on looks great on her. We can’t wait for some of the new color selections to come in so we can dress her up in those.  And we are counting on her for our upcoming photo shoot for our new website.  Look for this new website in January, 2016.

Meanwhile, what does it take to become a Brava! model?  Enthusiasm, a sense of color and style, self-knowledge, and the desire for fun.  We are looking for a couple of sopranos or altos, and a token male or two to round out the models’ setup for our photo shoot in November.  Contact me at: kathrynfoxma@gmail.com, if you’d like to model.  Do you have what it takes?  I think you just might.

Brava! Oval Mirror - In Transition

Brava! Oval Mirror – In Transition

Brava’s Oval Mirror awaits your reflection.

Lamplighters Music Theatre – Volunteerism

“Volunteer Spotlight – Kathryn Fox Ma

What do seahorses, high tea, and designer clothing have in common? The answer is the inimitable Kathryn Fox Ma, one of Lamplighters Music Theatre’s most active volunteers. Since 2007, Kathryn has been our go-to person for organizing and beautifying the silent auction displays that the Lamplighters feature at the annual Gala. With a sophisticated eye for design, Kathryn provides the invaluable service of showcasing the items in ways that encourage attendees to bid, which has a direct impact on the Lamplighters’ fundraising efforts. Over the years, our silent auctions have generated more than $170,000 in support for the Company, and Kathryn is quick to share praise. “It’s really the whole team of us. Jim MacIlvaine, Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, Kristen Jones, and all the Guild volunteers who help support the Lamplighters.”

Kathryn Fox Ma

Kathryn routinely donates a gift basket of handcrafted, natural soaps and accessories from Seahorse Fine Soaps, of which she is the proprietor, as well as a High Tea For Two serving set and goodies in a keepsake box, to the auction. Both items are among the bidders’ favorites each year! But her volunteerism isn’t restricted to this event. Kathryn also brings the decorative sparkle to our annual spring fundraiser (Too Much Happiness, formerly known as Hidden Treasures) and is a consistent organizing force—and a delightful presence—at many donor receptions and Company meetings.

Kathryn and her husband Zach became involved with the Lamplighters in 2004 through their daughter, Marina, who began participating in the Gilbert & Sullivan Scenes summer program (a collaboration between the Lamplighters and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music). “She felt so comfortable and happy in the program that she attended an audition workshop with the Lamplighters, and soon after got cast in a production ofThe Mikado,” says Kathryn. “Marina was young, so I stayed there for rehearsals, too. I didn’t want to just sit around, though, so I asked Barbara Heroux [who was Artistic Director at that time] if I could help. Barbara would throw me into anything- it was fun!” Marina has since appeared in many Lamplighters productions, and also volunteers to create special video and slide presentations. Not to be outdone, Zach—a Tai Chi Sifu—has donated certificates for martial arts instruction, as well as pieces of his original artwork, to the auctions, and he can usually be found serving behind the bar at our special events.

Zach, Marina, and Kathryn Ma

Kathryn’s most recent business venture,Brava! Fashions, combines her love of the performing arts with her degree in Merchandising/Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. The clothing line, which has been showcased at a fashion show at the Lamplighters rehearsal space, features stylish performance attire for female orchestral musicians and other women on-the-go. “The line is really taking off, especially as I’m able to give the designer feedback from musicians, who have different needs depending on their instrument,” says Kathryn. She adds that one of the dresses in the collection is named afterDiana Dorman, principal clarinet player in the Lamplighters Orchestra, as well as Orchestra Contractor & Music Librarian. “The dress has classic lines with no adornment in the front, so it doesn’t interfere with my clarinet. I love it!”

The Mas have been an important part of the Lamplighters family, in a variety of ways, for over a decade. “Knowing we can depend on volunteers like Kathryn to put together a great silent auction makes the staff’s work so much easier,” says Development Director Amy Himes. “Her friendly, no-nonsense manner and a generosity of spirit makes her a great person to work with.” Hats off to you and your family, Kathryn—we are so grateful for your involvement.”

Opera Season! Don’t you need new Concert Attire?

Patricia Heller of the San Francisco Opera

Patricia Heller of the San Francisco Opera

It’s here!  2015 is fast fleeting by, and suddenly, it’s Opera Season!  We’re very excited at Brava! to see so many items from our Performance Attire Collection assembled in one orchestra!  This Season’s favorites include the Diana Dress, Shirred Ankle Pants, Wrap Pants, 3/4 Sleeve Flower Crop Tops, Flower Skirts, 3/4 Sleeve Cowl Neck Tops, Eight-Panel Skirts, and Long-Sleeve Boat Neck Tunics.

We’re making our Orchestra member clientele feel cool, comfortable, while looking so elegant in their Brava! Performance Attire! This can only have a positive affect upon overall morale, which means we’ll be making beautiful music!  We look forward to a wonderful 2015 Season!

http://www.sfopera.com

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