What is a string quartet?
A string quartet consists of two violins, a viola, and a cello. String quartets have traditionally played music specifically written for this combination of instruments, by composers such as Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. Famous string quartets, such as the Juillard or the Orford, usually perform quartet literature exclusively. Some explore different genres of music, like the Turtle Island String Quartet, which arranges and performs standard and original jazz tunes, and the Lapsus String Quartet which combines classical and rock/pop themes.
What does “ Bel Canto” mean?
The term “ bel canto” (literally, “beautiful song”), referred to an Italian style or technique of singing used in the operas of the first half of the 19th century, mostly by Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. It emphasized elegant phrasing, beautiful tone, articulation, and brilliant technique, and showcased the great flexibility and range of the human voice.
How can the Bel Canto String Quartet make our special event memorable?
We can add that final touch of elegance to make the occasion extraordinary. We will work with you to create a special blend of music that will be just what you need. Not only do we have a large repertoire with many varied styles (classical, baroque, jazz, contemporary, operas, musicals, TV themes, seasonal music), but we are constantly expanding our repertoire as a result of special requests. We are able to write arrangements for music as necessary and whenever possible. Our versatility allows us to fit seamlessly into your unique occasion.
WEDDING MUSIC FAQ
I’m not familiar with many styles of music. Can you give me some guidance in what to pick?
We are happy to give you as much guidance as you would like! Often we find that as our discussion with the couple progresses, they recall more and more music that they like, and also recognize music that they didn’t think they knew! You can make all the musical selections yourself, or some of them, or leave it all up to us, after giving us any pertinent information about your wedding (e.g. style, mood, number of guests, guest information, etc.)
How would the Bel Canto String Quartet fit into my wedding ceremony?
The elements of a ceremony that are traditionally accompanied by music are the Prelude (as guests enter, approximately 20 minutes), the Procession, the Signing of the Register, and the Recession. The Processional can be a single piece of music, or a different selection for each entry (bridesmaids, flower girls, bride). Other elements that could be accompanied by music are the Unity Candle lighting, Communion, and Postlude (as guests are leaving). You may have other places you would like to incorporate our music, or would just like to have a musical interlude.
I would like to have a vocalist sing at my ceremony. Can the quartet accompany a singer? We have worked with vocalists many times. In fact, we’ve accompanied other instrumentalists as well, such as trumpet, oboe, and even bagpipes! (Needless to say, that last one was an outdoor ceremony.) We can certainly recommend musicians with whom we’ve already worked, if you are interested in pursuing this option. If you already have secured the services of a vocalist, it then becomes a case of determining whether the music selected will require extra time to re-arrange in a new key, and/or to rehearse it. In most instances it is possible to rehearse immediately before the ceremony at no extra cost. Please contact us for rates for extra rehearsal time and arranging.
Can the quartet attend my dress rehearsal?
As long as there is good communication before the ceremony, things should go smoothly during the wedding without us attending the rehearsal. What we have found very helpful is a phone call from the bride or wedding coordinator right after the dress rehearsal to inform us of any changes that may have been made during it. You may, however, book the leader to attend the dress rehearsal if you wish.
So, how do you keep things running smoothly and make sure that every piece of music is the right length?
In a word: experience! No matter how well things have been planned and orchestrated, there will always be many split-second decisions the leader must make. For example, the bridesmaids and the flower girls are to have separate pieces of music, but in the excitement of the moment the flower girls have forgotten and are skipping down the aisle on the heels of the last bridesmaid. In this case we’ll either play an abbreviated version of the flower girls’ music, if appropriate, or go right ahead to the bride’s music.Our experience is also evident in our advance planning: when asked what music will work well for the procession, we will suggest music that doesn’t have long cadences, but rather many places where we can make a natural “close,” so it won’t sound as if someone pushed the “STOP” button on a recording. Also, the leader knows these pieces well enough, if not from memory, so she can keep a close eye on the proceedings and cue the rest of the quartet on what’s happening next.Our extensive repertoire also shows our experience: We once played an extra-long prelude when the bride was 40 minutes late, without repeating any selections.
How can we avoid those glitches and awkward moments when it comes to the musical accompaniment?
There are a few steps you can take during your wedding planning:1. Keep us informed of any changes you make regarding the procession. Often these changes are made during the dress rehearsal, and can be communicated to us by a wedding coordinator, at a time when you’d like to focus on preparing yourself for your special day rather than concerning yourself with last-minute details.2. Make sure everyone in the wedding party knows their cue. For example, the wedding coordinator can inform the bridesmaids of the exact piece of music before their entrance so they can wait for that tune's final notes before proceeding down the aisle. 3. Ask everyone to walk at a normal pace!4. Basically the more information we receive about the ceremony, the better! The more elements there are in the ceremony (such as in a Catholic service), the more important this becomes.
I would love to have Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony” played for our recessional. Can you do that for us?
Funny you should ask that! We had exactly that request a while ago, and arranged the exuberant first movement theme for a recessional. Another bride wanted to walk down the aisle to “Butterfly Kisses,” and we were able to honour that request as well, with wonderful results.There will be some selections that may not work as well as others, but we can give you an assessment of the feasibility of arranging these. It doesn’t hurt to ask! We enjoy expanding our repertoire, and will make every effort to fulfill your special requests.
OK, so how about your track record? Can we hear you play?
Please check our reviews and feel free to contact our references. If you need more information than is available in our posted reviews, please contact us. Also listen to the samples of our performances. If you would like to attend a live performance, contact us and we’ll let you know of the next available opportunity.
Members of the Bel Canto String Quartet of Winnipeg are professional musicians and belong to the Winnipeg Musicians’ Association Local #190.