A string quartet can give your wedding or corporate event just the right atmosphere. It brings a note of elegance to an event to have live musicians playing classical (or even low key modern) music as your guests arrive or mingle during the cocktail hour. I’m sure you can see it in your mind now. However, most people don’t know where to start to make this idea a reality.
The number one thing to remember, if you are even thinking about hiring live musicians of any kind, is to plan ahead with plenty of time to interview, audition, and decide. Quality musicians can get an entire holiday or wedding season booked very quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute and hope to get your dream come true.
Second, consider the scene you are trying to set, and what kind of atmosphere you are trying to achieve. A string quartet will have the largest repertoire to choose from in terms of the number of pieces across all periods of music. However, some quartets specialize in a certain time period, such as baroque. This will affect the formality of the event, depending on what genre of music you are requesting. Keep in mind what kind of musical flexibility you are searching for and ask if they are willing to learn a song that might not be in their current repertoire.
Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a string quartet:
You know that old saying, “you get what you pay for”. It holds true for music too. Yes, you can find college students, music majors, recent grads, and even amateur groups, but it is worth budgeting for a professional quartet, who have been playing together for a while. You’ll notice the difference in the way they play together, even in how professional they seem in those moments in between pieces. Even setup and breakdown before and after will be smoother, which can be important if they won’t be playing for the entire event.
Many professional musicians require a booking of at least one-two hours’ duration because once they commit to an event, that usually means they are unable to take any other events that day. They won’t want to be unavailable for an entire day just to play for a fifteen minutes at your event. Also take into account set up time and reasonable breaks during the event.
Rates and Fees
Always discuss the rates and fees for the quartet up front. You don’t want any surprises on the invoice. Get it in writing, even if it’s just in an email. Some groups will charge travel fees, especially if your event is not local. Wedding at a winery? Great, but it might cost extra to get what you want if it’s a bit out of the way.
Communication is key when dealing with your chosen string quartet. Always have a clear idea of what you are looking for and make sure to communicate it to the musicians. Music can communicate a lot to your guests, so make sure the quartet is equipped to convey the message you want. A clear plan from start to finish will also take the stress off you and your musicians on the day of the event. When all parties know what to expect, everyone wins.
A word about agencies
Using an agency to book your musicians is a personal choice. An agency can do the negotiating for you, and will be responsible for finding a replacement if something goes wrong on the day of the event. So there can be an element of peace of mind for you there.
It can seem like a daunting task to find and hire musicians for your wedding or corporate event, but if it’s in your budget, you will be glad you did. Musicians of any kind, but especially a string quartet, will give your wedding or event that special something that will help it to be remembered for years to come.