What is the contracting fee?
The contractor coordinates the music for the wedding. The contractor handles all communications with the couple, as well as all communications with Iowa Summer Strings. Sometimes one of our members is unable to play on a specific date, in which case the contractor is responsible for finding a suitable substitute. The contractor is available to help choose music, offer advice, and make sure that the players all have the proper music ready for the wedding.
The contractor also often ends up arranging musical requests for the couple. In 2012, the contractor set two pieces from the Twilight movies and one song by Queen. Creating these arrangements takes time.
What kind of music do you play?
We are a classical string quartet. The majority of the music we play at weddings was written by J.S. Bach, A. Vivaldi, G. Handel, and W.A. Mozart. There are a number of CDs out with popular and traditional wedding tunes, and we own most of this music and would be happy to play it at your wedding.
You can hear us playing a few of these songs on our fb and youtube pages:
Do you play music that is not classical?
Yes! We are happy to play your requests, no matter what sort of music you choose. In recent years, we have played music by Coldplay, the Beatles, Queen, and Celine Dion. If you are interested in pop, jazz, rock & roll, or some other genre of music, we will be happy to play a piece or two of this sort of music.
How do you handle special requests?
You will need to provide us with string quartet versions of this music. If the sheet music is not available for string quartet, then we will need to arrange the parts ourselves and we will need written music to work from, preferably a piano score. This can take anywhere from 4-12 hours, rock music takes even longer.
If you cannot provide us with sheet music, we will not be able to honor your request—it takes far too many hours to create parts by ear from a recording. Guitar charts do not provide us with enough information to create our parts in a timely manner. Thanks for understanding.
The number of special requests we can do for a wedding depends on how much time we have. The amount of time available for making arrangements depends on a number of things: how many weddings we are playing and how close together they are, what other work and family commitments we have in the weeks prior to your wedding. If we have two weddings in the same weekend, the time for arranging music will be limited for both. We would like to honor all requests, but it is not always possible.
If you are really attached to a genre of music that we don’t play, like jazz or rock or new age, please hire a group that performs that sort of music: a jazz combo, a solo pianist, a local singer/songwriter or guitar player.
Live music is wonderful and you should get exactly what you want!
Is there a timeline for requests?
Yes! If the sheet music is available we will need it at least 1 week before the wedding. If we need to arrange the music, we will need to know 1 month in advance. If you are providing us with the music, make sure it is in string quartet form (written for 2 violins, viola and cello) if you give us a piano part, or music written for another instrument, we will need to rearrange it for our group- and that will probably not be possible in less than a week. If we need to arrange the music, we really like to know a month in advance. Thank you.
Does your string quartet sound ok in a church?
Yes! In fact, much of the music we play was originally written for church services, or concerts in small halls, on instruments just like ours.
Does your string quartet sound ok outside and will you need amplification?
Yes! Our string quartet sounds beautiful outside and
No! We should not need amplification. Different wedding sites have different acoustical challenges. Usually we sit up at the front off to the side of the bride and groom, so the guests can hear us just as well as they hear the ceremony. If it’s extra windy, or if we are seated at the back, sometimes it may be harder to hear us. This is something to consider when deciding where you would like us to set up.
Why do you require a canopy, or other shade, for your quartet?
Our instruments are our livelihoods. If our instruments are damaged, we are not able to work until they are fixed.
Rain damages the varnish on the stringed instruments. Sometimes the damage may be cosmetic, which can lower the monetary value of the instrument, sometimes the damage may be more serious and warp the wood, which would be a costly, and time-consuming, repair and the instrument might never really sound the same again.
Sunlight can also damage an instrument. Direct sun can damage the varnish, causing it to melt. If the direct sun is coupled with high heat, glue can melt, as well, which leads to open seams (where the sides of the instrument meet the back and front) and this can be more or less damaging to the instrument overall. It takes a minimum of one day to reglue open seams, but if the wood becomes warped due to heat and extreme humidity, as we have in Iowa summers, then the repair can take longer, and again the instrument may never really sound like itself again.
Sunlight can also cause big communication problems between the quartet and the people we need to be working with to play at the appropriate times- if we are staring into the sun and miss cues, awkward pauses can be the result.
Playing a musical instrument is physical work. Imagine playing a tennis match outside, without shade, on a 100 degree Iowa afternoon, that is the equivalent of what we may be doing for the duration of your wedding. Being out of the direct sunlight makes a difference in our ability to play our best.
Are there any conditions in which you won’t play?
If we have the canopy, we will play regardless of the heat. That said, we were grateful to the couple last summer who were getting married outside when it was 105- they decided to shorten the ceremony, so that everyone would have to spend less time out in the heat.
If we have a canopy, and rain is in the forecast, we will be there with the intention of playing. However, if the wind is blowing and we feel that we are getting wet, or the instruments are at risk of getting wet, we will put them away until it stops blowing, you move the wedding indoors, or it stops raining.
Last year, we had an encounter with extreme weather: predictions were for tornados and heavy rain and hail. We are happy to play through storms like this indoors, if we can get to the wedding safely. If power lines come down, if tornado sirens are going off, if there are flash floods, if the city is asking people to stay home, then it is clearly not safe for us to be driving to a wedding. If very severe weather is in the forecast, the contractor will be in touch with the bride or groom to discuss options.
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