Pittsburgh Aviary – Pittsburgh, PA

Our string trio played for the outdoor ceremony at the Aviary on a very, very hot day during the summer of 2016. It was close to 96 degrees! The staff was very kind and helpful to us, we were able to keep our instruments inside the air-conditioned building until the very start of the wedding ceremony.  In fact, one of the leading musicians came early and a gentleman who had a van with the wedding flowers, kindly offered to keep her instrument in the van… A short time later, he himself took it into the building. The only downside – we don’t seem to remember the flower company with which he was affiliated, so we have no way of thanking him! 🙂

aviary

Sewickley Country Club- Sewickley, PA

Category: Venue Reviews

Our string quartet played here in September of 2016 for a wedding reception, hosted by a wonderful family.  We loved the setting in which we played, and the staff was wonderful.. with the exception of a staff member at the front desk. One of the musicians tried to initiated a “small talk” conversations while waiting for the other musicians to arrive but the desk clerk did not appear to be friendly, was very cold and uninterested in human interaction… but the people we played for loved us and we received many positive comments on the music we played!

sewickley-cc

Pittsburgh Athletic Club – Pittsburgh, PA

Category: Venue Reviews

Conveniently situated in Oakland area of Pittsburgh, this is a very upscale for venues, where our musicians have performed numerous times for wedding ceremonies.  With private parking, wonderful and very attentive staff, it is always a pleasure to play here.

PittsburghAthleticAssociation21

Wedding ceremony time change

This is an example of a situation that  happens rarely. In fact, this was the first time it occurred with our wedding musicians. 

A client booked musicians (a string trio)  from 5pm to 6pm for a wedding ceremony.  Two days prior to the wedding ceremony, while discussing last minute music details with the client, he realized that he needed the musicians to start playing at 4:30 for the prelude music as guests are being seated.  In the section of our contract related to booking times it states “total time the musicians are on site”. The mistake was on client’s part which he readily admitted. 

After contracting the musicians that were booked for this wedding, it turned out that a cellist could not come earlier due to the previous playing engagement that was scheduled to finish at 4pm.  Based on the original booking time, an hour would have been enough time for her to get from the previous job to this one, with the start of 5pm.  However, with the start of 4:30 it was not feasible due to traveling distance between the two playing engagements.  

A different cellist was hired to play for this wedding ceremony that now has a start time of 4:30. The client had to pay for two cellist: the originally booked musician and a newly hired one.  Why?  The originally booked cellist had set the time aside for this job, arranging her schedule and possibly not taking another performance. She deserved to be paid for the time. 

The moral of the story? Review the contract for musicians carefully, calculating the time not only for the wedding ceremony itself but for the prelude music as well. Also, do not hesitate to call and ask for an advice for booking times.  Our musicians have done their jobs for many years and will provide you with a solid advice on times for your event.  

Hartwood Acres Mansion – Pittsburgh, PA

Category: Venue Reviews

One of the most beautiful places in Pittsburgh for a wedding ceremony! Easy to get to, very peaceful and romantic. Our string trio of a violinist, violist and a cellist performed here for an outdoor ceremony on a very hot August afternoon.  It was a gorgeous set up next to the garden by the mansion.  There was not a wedding coordinator to help the musicians with the set up, but the groom himself was so helpful and thoughtful! He made sure the chairs for the musicians were out of the sun, was very pleasant and cheerful! Even some of the guests tried to fan the musicians to keep us cool, and we had a groundhog that showed up right in the middle of the wedding ceremony, probably a good luck sign for the couple! 🙂

Hartwood Acres

Armstrong Farms Westminster Preserve -Saxonburg PA

Category: Venue Reviews

A beautiful and a peaceful place to have a wedding, a paradise not far from Pittsburgh.  A wedding coordinator Amanda was very helpful when a violinist got lost on the way to this place. She was also very good and efficient at taking care of other details that musicians have requested. Amanda was the one to call the violinist a few days before the wedding ceremony, asking if anything special was needed for musicians. Exceptional service by her!

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Lingrow Farm, Leechburg PA

Category: Venue Reviews

This place speaks a lot about the unique topography of Pittsburgh, the topic that the musicians discussed after arriving here. On the map (and according to directions), it seemed as this place was far away from Pittsburgh. In reality, it took each one of the quartet players less than an hour to get here.

It ended up being a very adventurous wedding for the musicians. It was raining all day long, with ominous clouds and thunderstorms. The wedding ceremony was planned to be held outside by the pond and the gazebo behind the main building. The bride was supposed to arrive at the site of the ceremony in a carriage. Until the very last minute we, the musicians, and the wedding coordinator had no idea if the weather was going to cooperate or not. Ten minutes prior to the ceremony it down poured.  It looked pretty much as if everything was going to be moved indoors. Last minute however, the bride made a decision to go for it, and to have the ceremony outdoors. How often, after all, do you get to ride in a carriage in a beautiful nature setting on your special day? During the procession of the carriage and the bride to the site of the ceremony, the musicians were playing “Bless the Broken Road” and the skies looked black with a misty rain falling.  Then the most awesome thing happened. As soon as the bride stepped off the carriage and started walking toward the groom – the sun came out instantly! It was pretty amazing to see! The sun was out just long enough to finish the wedding ceremony and as musicians were packing to leave – it started raining again.

The wedding coordinator was also an amazing person! She was on the phone with a bride several times prior to the ceremony, ready to do whatever needed to be done, whatever changes had to take place. She was very efficient, pleasant and had a positive attitude no matter what! It makes it so easy to work with people like her in the wedding business.

Lingrow Farm

On being a musician and a human

Quite often at different playing events musicians are asked questions such as “How did your group meet?”, “How long have musicians known each other?”, and other questions that will show people the relationships between the musicians. 

It is a somewhat interesting issue from a “get along” and “not get along” point of view. Whether or not the musicians in the same group get along with each other can greatly affect their performance level.  I have performed with groups that reflect both sides. 

Only this past summer a violist was needed to play at a wedding in Pittsburgh and I got the job. By any standards of professional classical musician, the music for the wedding ceremony was very easy.  The musicians played the famous “Canon in D”, “Wedding March”, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and other very standard wedding pieces. In my opinion, we sounded pretty bad and if I were the bride or the guests at this ceremony, I would have formed a very low opinion of the musicians. Why? Possibly because two of the four musicians in that string quartet (myself and a cellist) did not know the other two violin players. When we arrived at the site of the ceremony, the cellist and I have introduced ourself to each other. Upon our mutual attempts to introduce ourselves to the two violin players, we were met with somewhat cold attitude, both players barely said “hello” to us. In fact, one of the violinists did not make eye contact.  They continued to chat amongst themselves as best friends while the cellist and I tried to figure out where the negative attitude came from.  That set a very negative tone for the following an hour and a half of the wedding ceremony, during which even the easiest music just did not sound well. I don’t think it was only my opinion.

In most cases, after playing for such a long time, the guests will come up to us expressing their thanks and liking of our performance. It did not happen this time. Moreover, at the end of the job, even one of the violinists muttered “well, that was rough..” I am sure she did not even realize that her ignorance and unwelcome attitude towards the two “new” musicians played a major role in the outcome of the performance. 

Within the music groups that I organize in my business, we had a string quartet job outside of Pittsburgh, about an hour away.  The entire string quartet car pooled in the same car! We all talked and laughed on the way to the gig, talking about music, lives, children, politics, dogs…. We had to play somewhat challenging music that was arranged for our musicians on request: “Here Comes The Sun”, “Paperback Writer”, “If I fell in love with you”. These are not standard pieces for classical musicians, nor are they very difficult. However, they do require the musicians to pay a bit more attention while playing.  Our string quartet sounded fantastic that day! We could not leave afterwards – people crowded us and were asking questions about music, where we were from… I handed out close to twenty business cards. It was one of the best string quartet performances and everyone, especially the musicians knew it and felt it! 

These situations have proved to me again and again that as much as possible it is important upon forming a group to put together musicians that get along with each other.  

As a result, not only I try to put together musicians of the highest level technically, but also those that get along with each other which turns out to be a very important part of any performance.

United Methodist Church – Homer City, PA

Category: Venue Reviews

This place is a bit of a drive for musicians, about an hour and a half from Pittsburgh. The church has beautiful artwork on the inside, we played here on the Memorial Day weekend for a wedding ceremony. The families were very nice to us, but it seemed a bit odd that the person administering the ceremony never said a word to musicians, not even a hello..

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Winter wedding adventure

Category: Music and Life

Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015…

That will be a memorable date in our musicians’ history.  At 4:30 in the afternoon, the three of us, violinist, violist and a cellist were due to play at a wedding ceremony at Bella Sera, a place in the heart of Canonsburg, south of Pittsburgh.  Earlier in the day there were predictions of some snowfall with accumulations of 1-3 inches.  The three musicians were coming from different directions. On a good day, the farthest of us lives about 30 minutes from the above mentioned wedding venue. Now on a personal note….

I am not sure what forces of nature, or a”gut feeling” entered my brain, but I left my house at 2:10, which is way too early under normal circumstances.  As it turned out – it was barely enough to get there! At 2:15 there was a complete blizzard-like conditions, with zero visibility. In the following one hour-time, I have driven about a half a mile from my house. At one point, not being able to avoid going up the hill, I was stuck and only with the kindness of a couple of gentlemen who pushed my car from behind was I able to continue up a steep hill. At 3:30 I was still not even a half way to the wedding place. Meanwhile, I witnessed several accidents, a stuck bus and several blocked intersections where drivers simply gave up on driving due to zero visibility and others being stuck on hills. 

At that point I had to do what I have never done in my professional life as a musician.  I called the mother of the bride, and with an apology prepared her that there might not be any musicians playing at her daughter’s wedding.  She was very nice about it, obviously sad, told me to be careful and it was not worth risking my life… To deviate a bit from the story, this was one of those “easy booking”, where the client (mother of the bride) was amazingly well organized: she sent us printed lists of every piece that musicians are to play for the ceremony, as well as directions to the place from every possible corner of Pittsburgh, emergency numbers, and other materials that we usually have to extract from our clients, at times at a very last minute! I really did not want to disappoint her, so I kept on driving, average speed – 5-10 mph…  At 3:50 I called the other two musicians, one of whom was stuck on the local highway due to a blizzard. She decided to continue on.  The violinist arrived first with about ten minutes to spare. By the grace of God I made it there as well, with the last maneuver being my car sliding across the parking lot right in front of Bella Sera. Two minutes later the cellist showed up, frazzled but there!

From what the musicians heard, many of the guests for this wedding were on the shuttle bus from a local hotel… the bus didn’t make it in time for the beginning of the ceremony, arriving just as the newlywed couple finished the exchange of the vows.

At the end of the evening, we were profusely thanked by the parents of the bride, received one complement after another. It was truly a miracle that we made it there….

…and the “1-3 inches of snow” turned out to be at least 7 inches…

The musicians made it!

The musicians made it!

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