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Duo wedding violin and cello music at Orton Hall Hotel, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

By | buy music, fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding, sheet music, tour dates | 9 Comments

Orton Hall Hotel is one of the best wedding venues in Peterborough, so we were delighted  when our string trio was invited to play wedding music here again a couple of weeks ago.

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We performed for  three hours during drinks and the wedding breakfast, moving from the conservatory – which is light and airy – to the main dining room.

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The bride and groom had chosen extremely elegant decorations for the table settings and, as this was an Italian wedding, they had asked us to include some Italian music; so we played  Ave Maria, a selection from Vivaldi’s The Seasons, Italian arias – including Nessun Dorma and pieces from  La Boheme, La Traviata and Rigoletto – and  our own sheet music arrangement of Speak Softly – the love song  from The Godfather movie.

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Orton Hall is an 18th century manor house surrounded by 20 acres of beautifully cared for grounds, which give  it a very open, relaxed feel. Organisation was excellent  throughout the day and the weather was wonderfully warm for October.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Northampton: St John's Church, Peterborough

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding | No Comments

St John’s Church is in the centre of Cathedral Square in Peterborough and it looks more impressive at the moment than it has for years. This is because the Corn Exchange building, which was nearby, used to hide much of its architecture. Luckily that building has recently been demolished and St John’s really shines now. This church dates from the 11th century  and lots of local concerts take place here because of its super acoustics. It also contains a lovely sculpture by the well known 18th century artist John Flaxman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bride’s walk down the aisle at St John’s is longer than in many churches and there’s plenty of room for all sizes of string ensemble for the wedding ceremony music: whether it’s solo, duo, trio or string quartet. In fact all members of Fedora Strings have frequently played in orchestral concerts here.

You can’t park directly outside the church, but there’s lots of nearby parking in all directions. And although St John’s position, in the centre of the city, means that a wedding here is likely to attract attention, it’s so much smaller and less grand than the nearby cathedral that it still manages to keep some feeling of intimacy.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Northampton: Peterborough Cathedral

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding | 4 Comments

Peterborough Cathedral may be the least visited cathedral in the UK but it is certainly not the least beautiful. My first view of its magnificent west front, many years ago, gave me the same thrill of awe I experienced when, on a snowy day, I first walked into Red Square in Moscow. There is no doubt that architecture has the ability to inspire and delight; and as the cathedral remains the cultural heart of the city,  holding a wedding here has a definite sense of grandeur.

But while booking a wedding reception at The Becket Chapel or Deanery Gardens is straightforward, wedding ceremonies are not so easy to arrange: you need to be a long term member of the  congregation or have some other genuine connection.

This is why we have never played for a wedding ceremony at the cathedral. However, we’ve all played many times in concerts here: solo, chamber and orchestral. Because of the cathedral’s size  the acoustic is very resonant and booking a wedding trio or wedding quartet would be preferable to a duo or solo. There isn’t the same intimacy that comes naturally to smaller venues, but when you perform here you feel a strong connection with the surroundings; and there’s nowhere else in Peterborough that can achieve such an impressive sense of occasion.

Whenever I see the cathedral I wonder, as I do about St Paul’s, how many people lost their lives building it. I don’t think there’s any accurate record, but it must have been quite a few. And I  feel amazed at the sense of artistry that impelled people to work so hard, so long and with such skill to create something which would reflect forever their love of life and their greatest aspirations.

 

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Huntingdon: Hinchingbrooke House and The Old Bridge Hotel

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding | 8 Comments

Hinchingbrooke House and The Old Bridge Hotel, Huntingdon

If you walk round the centre of Huntingdon the past seems so close you almost feel you could touch it. This town was founded by the Anglo Saxons but it’s the Civil War that resonates the most. Oliver Cromwell was born and went to school in Huntingdon and was the town’s MP, and Charles1 rode into the courtyard of The George Hotel and captured Huntingdon from the Roundheads in 1645 on his way back to London after defeat at the Battle of Naseby.  Hinchingbrooke House is a magnificent building on the outskirts of the town and is the former home of the Cromwell family, so if you choose to hold your wedding here you can’t fail to be aware of a passionate history.

The building has been licensed for weddings and civil partnerships since 1995 and the rooms are beautifully decorated. There’s a large entrance hall which is well suited for a wedding trio or wedding quartet to play in and a choice of rooms for the ceremony and breakfast. We played for a wedding here recently and the couple chose Morricone’s Adagio for the bride’s entrance, Bach’s Prelude for unaccompanied cello for the signing and Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba as exit music.

For a comparatively more modern setting – though it’s still 18th century – the nearby Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon High Street does excellent food, is  licensed for weddings and has an elegant ambience.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in Peterborough and Northamptonshire: St Mary and All Saints Church, Fotheringhay

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, planning your wedding | 6 Comments

St Mary and All Saints Church, Fotheringhay

St Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay is perhaps the most beautiful church in Northamptonshire. It’s close to the River Nene and looks stunning from every angle. The acoustic is so good that the church is regularly used as one of Oundle International Festival’s concert venues. I’ve played in recitals and made recordings here and it’s ideal for wedding quartets, trios, duos or solos.

Fotheringhay itself  is most famous for being the place where Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587. She had been held prisoner at the castle, which no longer exists, but at the time of Mary’s execution was a state prison. The castle is also noted for being the birthplace of King Richard 111. All that’s left of it today are a few stones set on a hill, which is worth climbing for  the terrific views of the countryside it offers from its peak.  The numerous thistles are said to have replaced snowdrops immediately after Queen Mary’s death and are known as her tears. Despite this, little of the castle’s dark past remains and the  site is  now a relaxed place to visit.

The church is open from 9.00am – 6.00pm every day, so you can look around without needing to make an appointment. The inside is light, large and welcoming. Reminders of its history include a stained glass window with the coat of arms of Richard 111’s House of York and a lion on the pulpit which was given to the church by Edward 1v. Get married here and you embrace an upmarket, royal heritage!

Fotheringhay is a good choice for a wedding ceremony even if you ignore its fascinating background. In fine weather a stroll round the village or by the river is wonderfully relaxing. And The Falcon Inn – one minute’s walk from the church – is famous for its cuisine, caters for up to 150 guests and was recently voted 10th in The Times’ list of Top 50 Places to Eat in the Countryside.

  • To find out more about getting married at Fotheringhay Church ring Oundle Deanery on 01832 275675.
  • The Falcon Inn: www.the falcon-inn.co.uk, Tel : 01832 226254

 

 

 

Playing Outside at Weddings

By | fedora strings, planning your wedding | 7 Comments

Summer is the most popular time for weddings and naturally if you’ve booked a wedding quartet, trio or duo for your drinks’ reception and it’s a sunny day you’d expect the performers to play outside. Yet the ideal weather conditions for outdoor socialising are not always right for string instruments, which are valuable and can be damaged by strong sunshine. Other al fresco problems include music being blown off the stands by the wind, wasps interfering with concentration and obviously rain, which  makes playing outside impossible. In the past all of us at Fedora Strings have performed at free lance  engagements  in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire where we’ve had to move inside during the reception because of poor weather conditions, and as a result little of the playing has be heard. However, all that’s needed to resolve this is the organisation of  back up cover for the musicians, such as a gazebo, a marquee, a conservatory with the doors open or even the shade from a large tree (as long as it doesn’t rain). This way everyone can relax in the knowledge that the guests will be able to enjoy the music, no matter how changeable the weather. JB

Choosing Music For Your Wedding

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Unless you known a fair bit about music it can be hard to choose pieces for your wedding ceremony. The most familiar classical tunes, such as Wagner’s Bridal Chorus or Pachelbel’s Canon, are of course excellent, which is why they’re so well known. Yet there’s plenty of other repertoire which is just as lovely but is used less frequently. Unless you’re already certain about what you want it’s worth spending time listening to different pieces on our website or on You Tube before making a decision.

Many traditional songs – such as Londonderry Air, Morning Has Broken, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, The Dark Island, Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, The Lark in the Clear Air and Linden Lea – are extremely beautiful and ideal for the bride’s entrance or the signing. Equally appropriate are popular-style songs such as Moon River, What A Wonderful World and ‘Til There Was You; while Bach’s Prelude from the first unaccompanied cello suite or the slow movement from his Double Violin Concerto are a lovely choice for those wanting classical perfection.

For the couple’s exit the first movement of Mozart’s Divertimento in D, last movement of Divertimento in F, Vivaldi’s Sinfonia in G  and Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhugen are happy and exuberant, while the promenade from Mussorsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and first movement of Stravinsky’s Pulchinella Suite are quite grand: similar in mood to the more familiar Arrival of the Queen of Sheba or hornpipe from The Water Music by Handel. If you prefer folk music, traditional reels like The Dancing MasterFisher’s Hornpipe or Molly on the Shore are fun; or you could select a popular tune which is personal to you. All the pieces  mentioned above work effectively when arranged for wedding quartets, trios or duos, and many are fine for solo playing as well. JB

 

Encouraging Inspiration in Performance

By | fedora strings performance, string teaching | No Comments

One of the most frightening aspects of concerts is that nothing is ever the same twice; but the  adrenaline this creates can lead to exciting playing. Roger and I spend a lot of time discussing the character of the music in our rehearsals and are constantly devising new sounds to make our arrangements as effective as possible. This reached an extreme last April when we were warming up just before a concert and realised we were playing different versions of the same song and couldn’t quite remember what changes we’d agreed! However, the bonus of this way of working is that you become more spontaneous and learn to respond to sudden ideas in a way that can sometimes achieve inspiration.

Years ago I was strongly influenced by the Russian actor Stanislavsky’s books about ways to encourage what he called the superconscious  in performance. One of his ideas was that an actor needed to focus on the inner character of the role he was playing and allow that to take on a life of its own. Translated into concert performance this  means concentrating on your own interpretation of the music, rather than on nerves, technique or ensemble. Of course actors become immersed in a single character, while concerts involve a variety of styles. But the feeling of connection when all goes well is the same; and this applies to playing in wedding quartets, trios and duos as well as in recitals.

Othello StanislavskiStanislavsky in the role of Othello

Some of the concerts I have been most affected by have not been by the greatest performers; but they have all involved commitment and creativity. One was an informal concert of Vivaldi’s Double Violin Concerto  by two struggling children , which was conducted so imaginatively by Emmanuel Hurwitz that none of the mistakes mattered. The other was a Rachmaninoff piano piece played by a teenage boy, who was not technically perfect, but put his whole soul into the performance.

Is the message then never to worry about technique? No, just that ultimately what people remember is communication; and while you need to work at technique when practising, in performance you have to have the courage to forget about all that and reveal yourself, imperfections and all.  JB

  •   Follow up reading: An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavsky