Giving Thanks

It has been a busy past few months for Vif, including the arrival of a second honourary quartet member (AKA new baby), with another one on the way! This Thanksgiving weekend, we are pausing to give thanks for family, friends, the opportunity to make music with each other and share it with others. It is always so neat to see the ways that music is meaningful in different people’s lives. I remember playing at a wedding a few seasons ago where the bride requested a particular song that her father always used to play on the piano at home when she was growing up. As soon as the song started playing in the wedding, the father’s surprise and delight was so obvious, and it was such a meaningful gesture to include it. This past summer, at another wedding, the brother of the bride, who is a composer, wrote some string quartet arrangements of his sister’s favourite pop songs for us to play at the ceremony. What a unique wedding present! Music truly is a gift to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving from Vif!

2013 in Review

With the new year comes reflection on the year past, and we thought we’d share some of our favourite moments from 2013:

  • Performing at the Suzuki Charter School, and being able to share some of our favourite pieces from the Romantic era with these budding musicians!
  • Playing at a wedding in which we ended the ceremony with a flash-mob version of “All You Need is Love” (Beatles) – the guests all joined in singing and holding up signs to congratulate the new couple as they walked out!
  • A memorable but non-musical moment: a delicious quartet potluck dinner after one of our rehearsals. Not to brag, but we have some fantastic cooks in the ensemble.
  • Contributing some music to a fundraising event for Ratanak International, which provides access to medical, educational, and social services to the poor, abused, and exploited in Cambodia.

Wishing you all a musical and wonderful 2014!

Festive Earlybird

Can you smell the eggnog and gingerbread yet? It’s on its way, folks, and we’re starting to get into the festive spirit. (For inspiration, read about/listen to our experience playing at last year’s Lululemon’s Yuletide Yoga!)

Book Vif for your seasonal event before November 15th, and we’ll sweeten the deal – 10% off.

 

Do’s and Don’ts

Wedding season 2013 is here, and we’ve got a fantastic summer ahead of us! In particular, I’m looking forward to playing at the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Old Timer’s Cabin, debuting new arrangements of Beatles and Coldplay songs, and getting to pack up our tuxes and gowns and wear jeans and t-shirts (!) to a 50’s greaser style wedding!

To those in the middle of wedding planning, here are a few do’s and don’ts from a musician’s perspective:

DO: Meet with your musicians at least a month in advance to discuss the music. Not only will you choose which pieces you want where, but they will help you factor in things that you might  not have thought of, like how long the aisle at your venue is and how that affects which pieces you choose. Or, if you really love Pachelbel’s Canon in D, but want something similar and not as often-played, they will be able to give suggestions!

DON’T: Expect your musicians to read your (or your officiant’s) mind! If there are any last-minute changes to the ceremony that could affect the music, let them know! If there will be 9, not 7 bridesmaids walking down the aisle, they need to know so they can repeat the song one more time to avoid that awkward (and unnecessary) silence.

DO: Keep to the schedule as much as possible. Things sometimes happen, regardless of how organized you are, but the closer you can start your ceremony on time the better – your guests will appreciate it and will enjoy it more if they haven’t been sitting and waiting for 45 minutes. You will also avoid running into overtime fees for musicians and your officiant, and won’t have to worry about conflicting with the next booking at your venue.

DON’T: Use a CD player or iPod for the music. Not only is it a little tacky (personal opinion), but it is tricky to get the timing right. Experienced musicians are able to start and end pieces elegantly to fit with the ceremony – even if it means ending right in the middle of the piece because your enthusiastic flowergirl ran down the aisle!

DO: Choose pieces that YOU love! Think about what reflects your personality, relationship, family, and culture! Most ensembles are flexible and are able to help you find or arrange sheet music for that song you’re dying to walk down the aisle to. Don’t just choose Wagner’s Bridal Chorus just because you think that’s your duty (unless, of course, you really love it)!

Easter with Vif

Have you ever wanted the chance to sing Handel’s Hallelujah chorus with choir, organ, string quartet (yours truly), and trumpets? Join us next Sunday at Holy Trinity Anglican church for their Easter services (8:30 and 10:30)! 

 

Vif @ Suzuki Charter School

This morning Vif had the opportunity to give a short performance at the Suzuki Charter School here in Edmonton. It goes on the record as the second earliest Vif performance (the earliest was getting up for a 7:00 Breakfast Television spot for Mercury Opera’s 104 Underground - no easy feat for musicians).

The students at the school are studying music from the Romantic era this year, so we chose a program of selections from string quartets by Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. Typically, when children are at concerts, they listen, but they may also be tempted to fidget, sing, talk, dance, and a number of other creative distractions. I can certainly understand this to a point – most kids aren’t used to sitting quietly for upwards of half an hour at a time at a classical music concert. The students at the Suzuki School, however, were angels! I don’t think I heard a peep from these kindergarteners to grade 6-ers. You can tell they all are musicians themselves and have been trained in audience etiquette.

It was also neat for us to play at the Suzuki Charter School because all four of us in the quartet have connections to the school, whether from attending it ourselves many years ago, or currently teaching private and group classes there and at the affiliated Society for Talent Education.

Vif at SCS Jan2013

 

Mozart & Yoga

UPDATE: Check out this video from the event – you can spot us around 0:40!

Last week, Vif had the pleasure of performing for Lululemon‘s holiday staff party. Most company parties are fairly formulaic – usually a mandatory dinner of varying quality at a somewhat nice venue, with forced socialization between co-workers. We were a bit surprised, then, to find out that we would be playing music while the employees and guests … did yoga. To set the scene, imagine a gorgeous ballroom, illuminated by candlelight, with rows upon rows of yoga mats. While guests entered slowly and peacefully, we played seasonal tunes, and during the practice, led by a master teacher, we played soft, soothing classical music. It was an amazing experience to be a part of. Kudos to Lululemon for putting on such a memorable and meaningful celebration. And happy holidays to each and every one of you from Vif!