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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!

Vif Cellist Gets Hitched!

Congratulations to our amazing cellist, Caitlin, who married the love of her life this past weekend! Her husband Court, also a musician, is well known to us from our Edmonton Youth Orchestra and University Symphony Orchestra days. The ceremony was simple and beautiful. One of my favourite parts was a reading taken from the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was perfect for Court and Caitlin- a bit offbeat and quirky, but honest, and it speaks about authenticity and love in a wonderful way. Our quartet had the honour of playing for the ceremony, although we begrudgingly gave Caitlin the day off of cello, and had another cellist friend fill in for her. 🙂 Court wrote a great string quartet arrangement of Ben Fold’s song The Luckiest, which we played during the signing of the register. The reception was a lot of fun as well, as we connected with old friends, rocked the dance floor, and celebrated the happy couple. Congratulations, you two!!

Klezmer Quartet

Recently, Vif had the opportunity to perform for the Jewish National Fund of Canada here in Edmonton. It was a lovely soirée, with a few items of business, but mostly full of delicious food, music, and celebration. When JNF first contacted us in the summer, asking if we knew any Jewish klezmer music, I admitted that we didn’t, but realized that it was the perfect time to get some sheet music and start learning! After consulting their executive director, we ordered music for Dodi Li, Erev Shel Shoshanim, Jerusalem of Gold, Hevenu Shalom Alechem/ Siman Tov, Nigun Atik, a Jewish wedding dance, and a few klezmer dances. On the evening of the event, we played these infectiously fun selections alternating with classical pieces. As a side note, I was also looking forward to performing in a house, where chamber music was originally meant to be performed. In this intimate environment, you can sense and feed off of the audience’s energy as you play. There was certainly no lack of energy on this particular evening, as the listeners assisted with our pronunciation of the various Hebrew titles, and sang and clapped along with the familiar Jewish melodies. As a performer, this is one of the best feelings – knowing that you are sharing the joy of music with others. Truly an evening to remember.

Blue Chair & Coldplay

This summer, Vif had the opportunity to serenade brunch diners at the Blue Chair Café. What a fun environment to play in – delicious food, and a wonderful, appreciative crowd! Many thanks to Harold and the staff for being such welcoming hosts. We thought it was the perfect time to bring out a new Vif arrangement – Coldplay’s Yellow:

Vif Welcomes Very Tiny Honourary Member

Last weekend, Vif was proud to welcome a baby into our musical family!

More precisely the progeny of our violinist Aaron and his wife Tegan, the baby seems to already have acquired a certain comfort level with being an honourary junior Vif member. Although she doesn’t have quartet voting rights, she sure has won over our hearts.

Congratulations, Tegan and Aaron!