On cruising and musicians

Category: Music and Life

Winter season is usually the slowest for classical musicians as far as weddings go.  During that time musicians mostly perform with various orchestras, teach and play at events other than weddings.  Our musicians have played this winter at several Christmas luncheons, a couple of private parties at the local lawyers firms, as well as a surprise 50th birthday party.  Winter gives us more time to reflect, to slow down, to create, to think..

My husband and I just came back from a 12-day cruise to the Carribean, stoping in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Haiti and a couple of other islands.  We cruised with Royal Carribean Cruise Line. We have been using them for the past nine years, and are amazed how drastically the service have declined while the prices are going up. After talking to many people on cruise ships, overwhelming majority seems to feel as we do: the quality of food menu has gone down, it is much harder to book things through the Royal Caribbean web site, events that were originally on the ship’s schedule get cancelled all the time. The latest – a big issue with all RC ships having illnesses throughout cruise ships to the point where cruises are cut short and ships are returning early, not able to handle sick people on board. The same goes for musicians on board.  I have heard string trios comprised of violin, cello and piano, violin, piano, accordion, violin, flute, piano. I am sorry to say that most of my private students high school age play so much better!!! As a matter of fact, the same applies to violin and viola students of my colleagues. I was somewhat ashamed that Royal Carribean could not invest into better qualified musicians, or may be they simply do not know what good musicians sound like! My husband who is a police officer with a very limited knowledge of classical music, made several “lemon-like” faces when he heard some of the classical musicians on our cruises.  Personally, I would be ashamed if my business provided musicians to weddings who have such low standards and such minimal training as what we hear on our cruises. When we get home from these vacations, it really makes me feel good to look around Pittsburgh and see the caliber of our local musicians, realizing how good most of them are, how much time and energy they put into their continuos training, and how serious they take every job opportunity, from playing the easiest Canon in D at a wedding, to performing a complicated violin part of a Shostakovich’s Symphony in an orchestra.  It seems as if overall level of classical music training has gone up in the United States in the past few years, starting with the fact that orchestral instruments are being introduced in pubic schools as early as second grade.  Also, there seems to be an increase in children whose parents start them on a violin, viola and cello lessons at a much younger age, around five or six. I really hope the classical music is not dying, as some might attest, but prospering with every year, producing more and more classical musicians who keep music in our culture for generations to come.

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Bakery Square, Pittsburgh, PA

Category: Venue Reviews

Our string duo, violist and a cellist, violist was also doubling on the violin, performed at this place for a holiday luncheon.  It was a very simple, yet elegant setting to play in, very tastefully decorated for Christmas.  The manager was very nice to us, as well as the rest of the staff. It is always a pleasure for musicians to perform in such low stress settings.

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