Rochester Symphony Orchestra Conductor Jere Lantz is well recognized for his contributions from the podium here and beyond.
Not so widely known after 40 years of RSO leadership, he says, “I majored in economics in college, not deciding to become a conductor till I was 24. Our favorite place to go on vacation is a cottage on the south shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. My favorite things to do for fun are watching movies and solving crossword puzzles.”
Please acquaint us with your style.
On the podium, I’m entirely traditional -- tails or tuxedo with nothing faddish or newfangled. Off the podium, I’m pretty traditional too.
At rehearsals, it’s jeans with a polo or oxford shirt, maybe button-down, maybe not. One thing that I know about rehearsal is that I have to be comfortable -- I have to be able to move around quite a bit to conduct, so I need something that will move with me. I’m on my feet the whole time, so comfortable shoes are really important.
When home or less formal, I’m likely to be in jeans, which I’d wear all the time if I could. I hardly ever have to wear a suit, but I certainly have an array, mostly dark, sport coats and dressier slacks. While I don’t play too much with color, I like to play with texture -- suede, tweed, corduroy and leather jackets, plus jeans, khakis, and wide-wale corduroy pants.
I get lots of advice from my wife, Kristina, and my daughters. They tend not to tell me what I should wear but what I shouldn’t: "You’re wearing THAT?" One day Kristina said that a white oxford shirt goes well with dark jeans. So I do that a lot. And my daughters told me to roll up the sleeves.
What do you hope your style says about you?
I don’t often explicitly think about it, but I suppose that I value the classic, timeless things in life, much like my appreciation for music. I think that fashion should enhance or complement a person’s personality, rather than distract from it. At the same time, I think a person is allowed an occasional bit of fun with their style -- I’m always one to pull out a colorful holiday sweater when it starts getting cold.
What should every well-dressed man have?
I always carry two handkerchiefs, one for my needs and one for Kristina, especially at sad movies. I’m never without them.
Studs and links to go with tux and tails, plus piqué white ties and vests. I had some formal conducting shirts made for me when I was in Hong Kong some years back. I asked the tailor to have buttons next to the openings in case I forgot my studs and links. He told me he’d never been asked to do that before, but he did it beautifully. I’ve never used them -- haven’t forgotten yet.
Sweaters my mother knit for me, some over 50years old. I equally treasure the scarves Kristina has knit for me.
I still like to wear turtlenecks. They were very in when I was young. I love their coziness, so I never quit wearing them.
An item your family or friends joke about?
Yes, my old corduroy jackets that are pretty worn and beaten up. Make me look like an aging college prof. But I love ’em!
I’m wary of colors that are too bright or styles that are too edgy. But that’s me. I have fun with style, but in the end, it should be about the person. For me, style isn’t about trying to impress, it’s about helping people feel their best, and that’s different for each one of us.