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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can we use classical music in our event?

A: Classical music can be a great addition to:

  • WEDDING CEREMONY: Whether the traditional "Here Comes the Bride", the equally beautiful "Pachelbel Canon", or some other selection, the sound of classical music will enrich the atmosphere with an ambiance of elegance and sophistication.
  • COCKTAIL RECEPTION / HORS D'OEUVRES: Light Classics are best, so the music does not demand too much attention, but creates a beautiful background.
  • DINNER: We recommend Baroque and early Classical (Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart). After all, many of these pieces were written specifically for these occasions.
  • DANCING: Waltzes are an excellent way to liven up the evening!
  • CORPORATE EVENTS: Strings add just the right touch to an important meeting.
  • CHRISTMAS PARTIES: "Nutcracker" favorites, Christmas carols, and/or popular tunes evoke the holiday spirit.
  • WINE TASTING: Start with Baroque and early Classical, followed by popular tunes and opera arrangements.
  • GRAND OPENINGS: Combination of all styles, depending on acoustics and audience reaction.

Q: Where is music appropriate during the wedding ceremony?

A: Traditionally:

  • Preludes: 15-30 minutes before ceremony, as guests arrive and as family is seated. Music should be happy, but not too fast.
  • Wedding party processional: attendants, flower girl, etc., music should be appropriate for a slow walk.
  • Processional: consider something dramatic, but elegant – this is the most important moment!
  • Interludes: soft music adds a nice background to candle lighting, moments of silence, readings, etc.
  • Recessional: couple exit followed by guests – the celebration begins with the first sounds of this music!

Q: How do I choose my musical selections?

A: We usually suggest three ways:

  • We have a list of recommendations on our Hear Us page, which is based on most popular and traditional requests.
  • There are many CDs available in stores devoted entirely to wedding music which could help you to choose your selections; try a search for "Wedding Music" at amazon.com.
  • It is good to have some music which has sentimental value for your family. We would be happy to find and perform it for you. (There may be a small fee to make an arrangement of a nonstandard selection.)

Q: Which ensemble should I choose?

A: Visit our Ensembles page for a description of our various groups.

Q: How can I hear the ensembles before I hire?

A: We have an extensive list of audio samples on this site. For weddings, you can go to wedding music websites, as well as purchase wedding compilation CDs at amazon.com or at record stores. These can be invaluable tools, as you may recognize a piece when you hear it but do not know the name of it.

Included in our price is a consultation with Paloma by phone or in person. Together we will go over the details of your event and plan the exact music you would like played. Please provide an outline of your ceremony or event.

For a fee of $100 per musician, we can also arrange a consultation with the group(s) of your choice. Each consultation will last 30 minutes to one hour, and can be held at a location of your choice.

Q: For how long should I hire the musicians?

A: Here is what you need to know:

  • Specifically for weddings:
    • 90 minutes is ideal when you are hiring musicians for a wedding ceremony only. Weddings rarely begin on time (normally 10-15 minutes late). Start the music 30 minutes before and have it played until the ceremony is ready to proceed; your guests will be entertained as they arrive, and you will have the flexibility to take care of last minute details. When the ceremony is over, the musicians will play a few more upbeat pieces as guests leave.
    • 2 hours is recommended when your ceremony is longer (40 minutes and up), or when the ceremony is short, but you would like the group to stay (or move) and play for the cocktail hour.
    • 2.5 hours will serve a long ceremony (Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) and the reception afterwards.
    • 3+ hours provides music for the entire event (ceremony, reception and dinner). Musicians do not charge a travel fee for most engagements of 3 hours or longer. Our ensembles are very mobile and can be easily moved from one site to another (setting up takes about 5 minutes).
    • Overtime: If on the day of your event you would like the musicians to stay and play longer than the amount of time you originally hired them, the group will be happy to oblige, providing they have no prior commitment. This is considered overtime and is charged in 30 minute intervals, depending on the group. This rate will be indicated on the contract.

Q: Do I need to tip the musicians?

A: It is up to you. Musicians do not expect it, but it is always greatly appreciated.

Q: Will the musicians take a break during the wedding ceremony?

A: No! They will take their break after the ceremony finishes, which for some Catholic ceremonies may be after two hours. The musicians are always happy to accommodate special circumstances, and can easily arrange their breaks around toasts, speeches, or other events. Under regular circumstances, the ensemble will take a 10 minute rest period after the first hour of playing, and again after every additional 50 minutes played. The Brass Quintet will break for 15 minutes after every 45 minutes played.

Q: What kind of equipment and set up is required?

A: Two things:

  • Chairs without arms, enough to accommodate the number of players in the ensemble.
  • Good lighting. Musicians should be notified in advance if lighting is poor, and a power outlet should be close by for their stand lights.
  • For outdoor performances, make sure the musicians have a flat, stable surface to set up and perform on.

Q: Will the musicians play outdoors?

A: Under most conditions, although there are exceptions. Our instruments are made of wood and brass and are often very rare and expensive. Therefore, in the case of an outdoor event, it is understood that the performers must be provided with shelter from rain and direct sunlight. The temperature must be between 55 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q: Can the ensemble accompany a singer or another musician?

A: Yes.

  • We have artists we work with regularly.
  • We may also accompany our clients when they sing or play an instrument for their guests. Ask for details.

Q: How do I reserve the date?

A: Email or call us at (503) 957-0055. For more information, see our Fees & Booking page.

Q: How do I make payments?

A: You can pay for your event music either by check or credit card. See the Fees & Booking page for details.

Q: Will there be any travel expenses?

A:To calculate the distance and travel time we use Mapquest. The starting point is always the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland.

  • Travel is free when the destination is less then 20 miles away.
  • For greater distances, mileage for travel by automobile outside the 20-mile radius is 60¢/mile per musician. For all other types of travel, contact us for a quote. The cost will be determined by group size, travel time and distance, and necessity for overnight accommodations.

Q: How far in advance should I hire?

A: We book up to one year in advance.

  • To ensure availability, it is best to book as soon as you know the details of your event.
  • Remember! Your deposit is fully refundable up to 60 days before the event.

Q: Does the group attend the wedding rehearsal?

A: It is possible.

  • We can arrange to have either a member of the group or the whole ensemble attend, but it is an unnecessary expense for you. The rehearsal is more to assemble the wedding party and organize how to walk, stand and exit. These are professional, experienced musicians who have played hundreds of weddings and do not need to rehearse.
  • If you would like to practice with the music, we would be happy to put together a tape or CD of your selections so that you may play them at the rehearsal.

Q: What will the musicians wear?

A: Men traditionally wear tuxedos, and women dressy black unless otherwise requested. However, some clients prefer the men to wear elegant suits with long ties instead of tuxedos, and dressy colors for women. Please let us know your preference.

Q: How well do the instruments project?

A: It depends on the ensemble and location.

  • For wedding ceremonies and most outdoor events, the sound of the instruments will carry and no amplification is needed.
  • For indoor receptions, the brass quintet and string quartet should be able to service up to 200 guests easily, up to 400 if the room is large and resonant (old wood buildings, mansions, churches . . . ).
  • For fewer guests you may want to choose a trio or duo.
  • If you have more than 200 people, and the room is large with a low ceiling and carpets, we would strongly recommend the string quartet.
  • It is also very important to position the musicians where the most number of people are likely to enjoy them; close to the hors d'oeuvres, buffet or entrance. We do not provide amplification, but if it is arranged for us, we are experienced with microphones and are happy to work with them.

Q: Do I need to provide anything else for the musicians?

A: You are under no obligation to provide food for the musicians, but it is always appreciated.

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