An interview with a wedding string quartet

Apr 15, 2020 | Wedding advice & ideas

Carrying on in my ‘An interview with’ series, today I chat with Chris Slatter from Scintillo String Quartet.

I first got to work with Chris and his team last year on Charlotte and Tom’s wedding day at Glemham Hall, Scintillo played strings during the drinks reception amongst the lavender on what was a beautiful summers day. Since then our paths have crossed several times and I am sure we will continue to work many more weddings together.

Thank you Chris for taking part in my interview series it was really insightful learning more about Scintillo and I am sure many couples will find the post really helpful. If you are looking for your wedding String Quartet, do drop Chris at Scintillo a message to see if he and his team are available to play on your day.

Essex wedding string quartet ‘Scintillo‘ answers your questions:

TELL US YOUR STORY

I have been managing quartets since 2002 whilst I was still at music college, as often adverts looking for musicians to play for events in hotels and restaurants, (even The Ritz!), would be put up on the jobs board, in the old days before everything was online!

Our first wedding as Scintillo was for a close friend of ours in 2004, which led to a few more bookings for friends of friends, and the quartet has been going
strong ever since!

 

WHERE ARE YOU BASED AND WHERE DO YOU COVER?

Our musicians all live in Suffolk and Essex, but we perform across the whole of East Anglia including Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and London.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR BUSINESS NAME? AND WHAT DOES IT STAND FOR?

One of the very first pieces we played together was ‘Palladio’ by Karl Jenkins which was used in the De Beers diamond adverts in the 1990’s.  Scintillo comes from the Latin word scintillatus, meaning to sparkle, and as diamonds are the stone of commitment and promise in an engagement, this linked back to weddings, so it felt like a good choice, also an individual one too!

CAN COUPLES REQUEST CERTAIN SONGS FOR YOU TO LEARN?
Definitely, and it’s something we love being able to do! Our couples often have a piece of music which means something special to them, and we take great pride in offering a bespoke service to ensure that we can perform a particular song or piece for them. A string quartet is so versatile and we enjoy putting together playlists which accent particular themes, or to highlight a certain aspect of the day.
WHAT PARTS OF A WEDDING CAN YOU PLAY FOR?
We can provide music for any part of a wedding day including ceremonies, receptions and wedding breakfasts.  We’ve also performed for some beautiful first dances, traditional hymns for church weddings, alongside gospel choirs and for pre-ceremony welcoming drinks receptions too!
TYPICALLY HOW LONG IS ONE SET?

Our bookings tend to vary depending on the type of event,  but the most ‘usual’ duration for a wedding is a three hour booking which most often covers pre-ceremony music to welcome guests as they take their seats, the ceremony itself and the drinks reception. 

We do take some playing breaks on longer bookings, at a convenient time to not disrupt the flow of the day. Some couples book for five to six hours which covers the ceremony, drinks, wedding breakfast and often a first dance too!

DOES IT TAKE LONG FOR YOU TO SET UP?

Our set up is fairly quick. We always arrive at around 45 minutes before our booking start time to liaise with the team at the venue and photographers/videographers.We always have a good tune up and rehearse the music for ceremonies too.

We never charge our couples for set up time and I always organise the music for each booking in advance. 

We’re pretty low maintenance really and only ask that venues provide us with four armless chairs so we can play, and a space to leave our cases and equipment so it’s not on show during an event (or in the couple’s wedding photographs!).  

DO YOU REQUIRE MICROPHONES?

As we provide acoustic music, including beautiful covers of Contemporary pop songs which sound fab on live strings, we don’t require any microphones, audio or electrical equipment at all.

The great thing is that as we’re live musicians we can balance our sound according to the size of the event we are playing at and as we’re not restrained by having to be near power points, we can move around at venues quite freely to play inside and outside.

WHAT STRING INSTRUMENTS MAKE UP A STRING QUARTET?

At the heart of what we offer is a ‘traditional’ string quartet, consisting of two violins, a viola and a cello. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG TO COVER AT THE MOMENT?

There’s so much great music to choose from and over past few months we’ve added some beautiful arrangements of songs from films. Three titles which spring to mind and sound gorgeous on acoustic strings are:

‘Shallow’ from A Star Is Born
‘A Million Dreams’ from The Greatest Showman
‘Someone You Loved’ by Lewis Capaldi

DO YOU/HAVE YOU WORKED WITH OTHER MUSICIANS ON WEDDING DAYS?

We’ve had a brill time collaborating with singers, pianists and trumpeters over the years when our couples have asked for a particular piece or for us to recreate a sound they have envisaged for their day. 

Some memorable moments include performing ‘Wings’ by Birdy for piano and strings with Daniel Law during a ceremony at Hengrave Hall, and Christmas carols with a singer during a winter wedding at Seckford Hall. 

We have sometimes (in secret!) helped friends of our couples deliver a special gift, and have accompanied them singing a song during a wedding ceremony.  For us, these occasions have really given an extra dimension to our work and an added connection to the people we’re playing for.

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 MOST REQUESTED SONGS TO PLAY?

This is a tricky one as our repertoire and clients tastes are so varied, but five pieces which pop up on most of our playlists, and seem to be standing the test of time for us, have got to be;

‘Canon’ by Pachelbel
‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ by Elvis
‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles
‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness
‘Tale As Old As Time’ from Beauty and the Beast

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND COUPLES BOOKING IN?

We’re happy to hear from couples at anytime, and sometimes even manage to fit in ‘last minute’ bookings, but as a rule our couples tend to book us at around 18 months before their wedding date.  That said we have bookings in our diary which are almost three years away! 

WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WEDDING VENUES TO WORK?

East Anglia is full of unique venues so we’d love to mention a few, by county, which we regularly visit;

In Suffolk, it has to be the luxury contemporary barn venue Easton Grange and the exquisite Tudor mansion Hengrave Hall. 

Our favourites in Essex include the romantic and historic Hedingham Castle and Gosfield Hall too, where we recently played for the wedding of Alex & Olivia Bowen Buckland.

Longstowe Hall, in Cambridgeshire, has wonderful gardens and an island, especially for ceremonies.

Finally, in Norfolk we love playing at The Boathouse which is set alongside the charming Ormesby Broad, allowing the bridal party to arrive by boat!

WHERE CAN WE SEE YOUR LATEST UPDATES?

You can follow us on Instagram, where we often put up snippets of new music. We are also on Facebook and Twitter.  We love sharing what we’re doing and where we’ve been on our travels for our clients.

Want to see who else I interviewed in the ‘An interview with’ series? Read all the posts here.