String Quartet Q & A's

From our twenty years of experience in organising instrumental events, we've put together a selection of the most popular questions that we receive about string quartet and ensemble music.

What is a string quartet? 

String quartets are an ensemble of four instruments - two violins, a viola, and a cello. A viola being a larger, deeper sounding version of the violin. Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and other well known composers have been writing music for ensembles for well over 200 years. Stringed instruments were thought of as the closest instruments comparable to the quality of the human voice. Composers, who wanted to share deep emotions without the use of words, often opted to write quartet as opposed to vocal or other instrumental arrangements.


What are the advantages of selecting a string quartet?

String quartets, namely two violins, one viola, and one cello, are the most popular form of chamber ensembles.  They offer a full and vibrant sound, containing a soprano, bass, and two 'inner voices'.  The beauty of string quartets are that whilst they can easily be heard, it’s possible to enjoy a conversation as the music plays, as opposed to the high volume output frequently provided by other bands and groups.

Another advantage of opting for a string quartet is it's versitility. Stringed ensembles can play virtually any form of music and can adapt popular songs to instrumental-style arrangements. Moreover, a quartet is extremely portable and can move around within and between different venues at a given event. Weather permitting, a string quartet can also perform outdoors and will not normally need amplification or indeed a power supply.



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How should I select the instrumental music?

Regardless of your knowledge of classical music, it's vital that you take advice about what music you want played at the different stages of your event. Think about the mood and ambience you want to create. Do you want the atmosphere to be positive and uplifting? Or perhaps quiet, reflective and romantic? You may indeed want some of each as your celebration unfolds phase by phase on your special day.

Once you've decided on the style of music you want played at your event, listen to instrumental music and indeed any tracks that you think may be suitable for your special function. If you're getting married, try and recall the types of music you've heard at the recent weddings of family and friends.

If you are still unsure, contact the organiser at String Quartet's Live or speak to our musicians. We'll work directly with you to select music that has most meaning for you for your event. Remember, our repertoire is extensive and varied - music from the early Baroque to contemporary love songs -  plus a wide variety in between!

The majority of our clients leave the selection process to our quartet's organiser. From our combined decades of experience in providing instrumental music, we'll provide music that is elegant, stylish and importantly is in keeping with the atmosphere of your event.


What do String Quartet's Live need on my wedding day?

What do we need you to provide? Our quartet needs four chairs with flat seats and no arms. Shade is needed when we are performing outdoors and decent lighting if we are indoors. The need for electricity is normally for lighting only, as amplification is not usually required for string quartet music.

As we are experienced function organisers, we will work alongside you to plan your music. If necessary, we will talk to the organiser at the reception place to work out the detailed requirements for the music on your special day.


How do the musicians dress? 

Your event is special, and the musicians at String Quartet's Live will dress for the occasion. The men will wear dark suits or tuxedos and the women will normally be in black or dark blue dresses, floor length if you so wish.



 

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What happens if one of our players becomes ill or is unable to play?  Will our engagement be cancelled?

Absolutely not. String Quartet's Live's musicians have been performing at functions for many years, and have never yet had to cancel an engagement.  Occasionally, one of our musicians may need to be replaced with another professional who works with us on a regular basis and is familiar with our repertoire. At the risk of sounding like a football or rugby team, we’ve got professional back ups in every position.



 

 

Can we dance to your music? 

In general, the answer is no.  If you are interested in having dancing as a major feature at your wedding or special event, we’ll happily recommend a band or a D.J. for that part of your evening.  However, String Quartet's Live will be happy to play a popular song for your first dance at a wedding reception, if you so desire. If you're looking for lively, dancing and entertainment why not consider hiring a ceilidh, swing or function band?



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Will the quartet play outdoors? 

Yes we can play outdoors. Our only concern is the safety of our expensive instruments and our ability to provide quality music in an exposed location. Our instruments must be kept under cover and shaded, they must be kept dry at all times, and the temperature must be 65 degrees or above, so that our fingers will work properly. Frostbite can adversely affect our performance! If you are organising an outdoor event, we may advise you to hire a gazebo or a small marquee so as to safely accommodate our musicians and their instruments.



Does your quartet need to take a break?

Not normally during a wedding ceremony or similar event which has natural breaks. However, we're human and from time to time it's necessary for us to rest our fingers and take a comfort break. We'll make every effort to coordinate such breaks in with the natural flow of your event and to provide as much music as we possibly can for your guests.



Is there an increased fee if my wedding reception and ceremony are in two separate locations?

No, this is something that we do all the time.  Our charges are 'all inclusive' and are for the full duration of your engagement. This will include the time involved traveling between two or more venues. All fees will be negotiated fully at the time of your booking. There will be no hidden extras sprung on you on the day.




Can the quartet perform special requests?

If the selection is in our quartet's normal repertoire, then we can automatically change the order on the day. If the selection is not available as a string quartet arrangement, for a reasonable fee we can have  special music written for you. Normally, this will include the cost of an arranger' s time plus any material costs involved.



Will your quartet accompany guest singers or instrumentalists?

We frequently accompany other instrumentalists or indeed a vocalist. However, this does require an additional rehearsal - although this can normally be done just prior to the engagement. Understandably, an additional fee will be incurred should this service prove necessary. 



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Do we need to meet you in person to plan our music?

We can if you’d prefer, but to be honest it's not really necessary.  All details can be addressed over the phone, or by email. However, if you are unsure or anxious about what will be involved, we can certainly meet up - subject to availability.



Will the quartet attend my wedding rehearsal?  

Under normal circumstances, it's not necessary for us to attend a wedding rehearsal. Indeed this would incur an additional expense for you.  We have vast experience in coordinating the music for wedding ceremonies and the majority of our planning and practicing is done well before we turn up at a wedding.

If you would like to play quartet tracks at your wedding rehearsal, we can certainly send you through MP3 tracks or send you a C.D. via the post prior to your special day. On the day, it will be strictly String Quartet's Live though!



Will the quartet play entrance music before our wedding ceremony?

If you want prelude or entrance music this can easily be arranged. Please advise us of your needs well in advance though. Our standard fee includes 30 minutes of entrance music before the start time of the ceremony. This is usually more than sufficient to meet the needs of your arriving guests and will certainly ease them into the atmosphere of your special occasion well before you make your processional entrance.



How will the quartet know when to begin? 

We will meet with yourself, the organiser, M.C. or nominated contact to arrange appropriate cues.



Do we need to time our entrances exactly to merge in with your music? 

No, String Quartet's Live will do the timing and the coordinating for you on your big day.  Just let us know approximately how many people will be entering at an approximate time - and we'll do the rest.



What if we need further questions answered later? 

Our standard fee includes unlimited telephone and email consultation.  Call or email String Quartet's Live any time you have a question or need additional information.  We’re very “user friendly”, and want you to be completely at ease with every aspect of our performance. Remember also, that you'll be able to speak directly to our string quartet musicians directly on the day of your wedding or special event.

 

 




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"Our company event wouldn't have been the same without your quartet. Your musical choices were perfect and really did add to the atmosphere." D. Cosgrove, London

"All our guests were extremely moved by your music and thoroughly enjoyed the performance." S. Shepherd, Leeds

"....they all commented on your performance and said it was a lovely change to hear nice music and still be able to chat without shouting .... your choices on the day were piece perfect. Hope to hear you again soon. P. Barrett, Cardiff

"Thanks for playing at my daughter's wedding! Your personal presentation was immaculate and stylish, your repetoire extensive and musicianship - excellent. You greatly contributed to the elegant ambience of our special day. Thanks!" W. Smith, Glasgow

"I heard nothing but rave comments! The timing of the music and the seamless switching between pieces was perfect. All in all, your music was exquisitely performed and brilliantly played." J. Harding, Edinburgh