A couple of weeks ago our string quartet returned to The Old Hall in Stuntney, near Ely in Cambridgeshire, to play for the 60th birthday party of one of the owners of the Hall. We performed a varied selection of music in the conservatory, as guests enjoyed a three course meal.
In this type of situation, the function of a string quartet is to provide an elegant and unobtrusive ambiance as a background to guests’ conversations over dinner. Therefore it’s important to select pieces of music which are not too attention grabbing, yet can still be heard in all parts of the room.
Many guests commented on how much they appreciated the music and we finished playing as everyone sang ‘happy birthday’ (accompanied by the string quartet!)
A couple of Saturdays ago, our string duo (consisting of violin with viola) played for a wedding held at Admiral’s House in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. We started playing as guests entered the ceremony room (one of the state rooms on the first floor), before playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D for the bridal entrance. One of the couple’s close friends was a singer and she joined us for a rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ during the signing of the register. The bridal couple then exited the ceremony to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed Delivered I’m Yours’ which the guests were delighted by.
The wedding party then moved downstairs and we continued to play for a further hour in the foyer area as guests enjoyed drinks and canapes.
Last Saturday, our string duo played for a civil ceremony held at Chelsea Registry Office on the King’s Road. This was just the type of occasion which suited the string duo perfectly as a string quartet would have taken up far too much space in the room and would have restricted the amount of guests who could have fit in!
At the end of the ceremony itself, everybody (including us!) hopped onto a Routemaster Bus and we were transported to the Savoy Hotel on the Strand, where the wedding reception was to taking place in the Savoy Bar Grill. Again, a string quartet would have struggled to find enough room to have set up and played, but our violin and cello fit very neatly into one of the alcoves. Here, we performed a lively selection of rock and pop covers as well as a few jazz and light numbers chosen by the bride and groom. We finished playing just after the speeches and managed to speak briefly with a delighted bridal couple before departing.
Last Saturday, myself and Emma (on cello) returned to play for a wedding held at the Priory Barn in Little Wymondley, Hertfordshire.
We played some classical pieces as the guests were making their way to their seats and after a couple of announcements from the registrars, we performed Pachelbel’s Canon for the entrance of the five bridesmaids and flower girl. Once the flower girl had begun her procession, we then switched to Wagner’s Bridal Chorus for the arrival of the bride and her father. This combination of pieces was specially chosen by the bride.
At the end of the ceremony, the couple exited to the Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ and afterwards, we continued to play for approximately 90 minutes as guests enjoyed drinks and canapes before the wedding breakfast.
Last week, our string quartet took part in 2 days of fiming for a primetime medical drama to be shown in early January. The filming took place in the wonderful location of Hedsor House, near Taplow in Buckinghamshire (a venue we’ve played at for weddings on a number of occasions).
The string quartet were involved in six hours of filming for both days (although in reality, this wasn’t continuous) in the central Hall at Hedsor. The skylight in the domed ceiling had been blacked out to stop any daylight from entering the room, so as to give the impression of an evening event. The string quartet were placed on a raised platform and mimed to a piece of music which we had recorded earlier on the first day. In order not to disturb the actors, the bow I used had been greased (with no rosin applied) so that when I bowed, no sound came out of the violin! Filming involved a fair amount of repetition, as cameras caught the same passage of dialogue from different angles, but everything seemed to go smoothly and on schedule.
The whole experience was most enjoyable, with a particularly excellent canteen on hand, serving all day!