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String Quartet Booking Guide – 2020 Prices, Advice and FAQs

City String Ensemble String Quartet in London

Are you curious about hiring a string quartet for a wedding, private event, or corporate function, but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top string quartets to make things as easy as possible!

Browse all String Quartets →

You can hire a string quartet for recording sessions and any kind of events including; weddings, corporate functions, private parties and pretty much anytime you’d like to inject some elegant string music into your life!

Keep reading for all you need to know about string quartets!

If you’ve already decided to hire a quartet and you’re looking for options, you can either:

  1. Browse and compare over 165 wonderful string quartets available in the UK
  2. Contact us to discuss your requirements: [email protected]

You can think of Encore as your equivalent of typing in “string quartet for hire near me” into your search engine, as we can filter our list of string quartets based on your location!

Contents:

  1. The Basics
  2. Equipment & Setup
  3. Repertoire
  4. Booking

 

Beautiful string-playing by Grazia Strings

The Basics

Which instruments are in a string quartet?

A string quartet is comprised of two violins, a viola, and a cello. The lead violinist will play the melody supported by the second violinist. The viola provides mid-range harmonies, and the cello provides a deep bassline, with occasional melodies.

There is also the option of hiring an electric string quartet. Consisting of electric versions of the normal string quartet line-up, you can expect funky instrument designs and more of a show/performance than an acoustic string quartet.

Why choose a string quartet over a string trio?

Due to their larger size, string quartets naturally have a more resonant and fuller sound than a string trio. The fourth instrument allows for richer harmonies—especially important if you want to be able to hear the ensemble over background noise at a busy event or wedding.

Most classical music (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) and pop arrangements are written for string quartet, but can easily be arranged for a trio.

String quartets who regularly perform at functions and weddings will usually provide string duo and string trio options for events in smaller spaces or with lower budgets. A duo costs half the price of a quartet, and a trio costs 3/4, so it’s worth considering these smaller line-ups if your budget doesn’t stretch to the full quartet.

Looking for information on the differences between string ensembles? Find out more here: Duo, Trio, or Quartet? — A Beginner’s Guide to String Ensembles

Which parts of the wedding ceremony will a string quartet play at?

When hiring a string quartet for your wedding ceremony, you’ll receive music during the following parts of the ceremony:

  • Music as guests arrive, usually 15-30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony.
  • Music for the bridal procession
  • Music during the signing of the register
  • Music as you and your partner leave the ceremony

String quartets will often play at the reception as well, for example during the cocktail hour and/or during dinner. String quartets are loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that they’ll drown out conversation. This makes them the perfect choice for providing background music without compromising on the energy of live music performance!

City String Ensemble, performing their ‘best of 2019’ modern pop songs.

Equipment & Setup

How much space does a string quartet need?

Approximately 2m x 3m. The image below shows a 2 x 3-meter gazebo that would be big enough for a string quartet.

2m x 3m gazebo big enough for a string quartet
An example gazebo, perfect to provide cover for a string quartet

What equipment do I need to provide for a string quartet?

String quartets will require four chairs with no arms so that they can perform freely without knocking their arms against the chair. They bring their own music stands and would just need access to a secure room to leave their instrument cases and belongings while performing.

Do I need to provide food?

Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though not required.

What dress code can I expect from a string quartet?

All black is the standard dress code for string quartets providing wedding entertainment. However, quartets can often provide alternative dress e.g. colourful dresses to match a summer wedding or a particular theme.

Many string quartets are able to provide traditional dress for Asian or Jewish weddings. You can liaise with one of our talented wedding string quartets to see if this is something they can offer.

Crystal Palace String Quartet, Bollywood wedding attire
Crystal Palace String Quartet, Bollywood wedding attire
Crystal Palace String Quartet, wedding attire
Crystal Palace String Quartet, wedding attire

 

Do I need a PA system?

Not usually – string quartets are acoustic instruments with a mellow sound that both blends and projects. If you think you will need extremely loud instruments, perhaps if you’re hosting an event in a large space or a noisy public place, you could consider an electric string quartet, or asking the quartet to bring microphones and amplification at additional cost.

You might not necessarily see an electric string quartet at a wedding but for large-scale corporate events or outdoor performances, an electric string quartet with PA system is definitely an option.

The Element String Quartet with a stunning rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon

Repertoire

What is the most popular classical wedding repertoire for string quartets?

Here is our list of some of the most popular classical string quartet wedding processional, signing of the register and recessional music that is most popular and expected to be in most string quartets repertoire list.

Seating of the guests
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart
Queen of Sheba – Handel

Bridal procession
Canon in D – Pachelbel
Air on a G string – Bach

The signing of the registry
Ave Maria – Gounod
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

Walkout
Bridal March from ‘Lohengrin’ – Wagner
Wedding March – Mendelssohn
Ode to Joy – Beethoven
Air and Hornpipe from Water Music – Handel

What are the most popular pop songs for wedding string quartets?

String quartet repertoire lists can vary from group to group but some of the most popular string quartet wedding songs from the popular genre are:

All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Elton John
Come Away with Me – Norah Jones
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

Giardino Strings play Viva La Vida

Can the quartet play my favourite song?

Yes! Quartets can use existing arrangements of popular songs, or can even create one themselves exclusively for your event. Creating a bespoke arrangement of a song will increase the fee for your booking, but nothing beats hearing your favourite tune played in a fresh new way!

What is the most popular party/event repertoire?

This depends on the style of your event and your individual music preference. Popular styles include classical, pop, or a combination. All of the pieces listed above will work well as background music for a party. Also, we have dedicated pages for our string quartets based on the occasion, so you can find an experienced quartet used to the type of event you’re organising music for. We have wedding string quartets, as well as experienced quartets for corporate events.

I’m not sure what type of music I want. Where can I go for ideas?

Go to Encore’s string quartet page and listen to different groups’ audio/video clips and get ideas of which styles you like. There is also the option to filter the quartets by location to find groups that are local to you.

Most string quartets will tell you that performing a mixture of styles to help suit all tastes and ages at events and weddings is what is most commonly asked for. If you need advice on string quartet wedding songs to walk down the aisle, the best people to ask are the musicians who have probably played for 100s of weddings and have the most experience!

Can the quartet play with a singer?

Absolutely! A singer is a perfect addition to a string quartet, allowing you to have the soaring beauty of the voice combined with the richness of the string quartet.

Jennifer Coleman specialises in singing with string quartets

Booking a String Quartet

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests. String quartets are particularly busy during wedding season (May to October), so if you would like a string quartet to perform at your wedding, we recommend booking as soon as you have your venue arranged.

That being said, we regularly handle last-minute bookings at Encore and string quartet hire is easy for us to arrange for you at short notice.

If you’re looking for a string quartet for an event within the next few weeks, get in touch with our team at [email protected]!

How much does it cost to hire a string quartet?

If you are looking for the average costs of string quartets for wedding ceremonies, or how much it is to hire a string quartet for any other kind of event, you’ll find a variety of different prices depending on the length of booking, location of the event and the quality/experience of the group.

String quartet wedding hire prices and other event prices tend to be quite similar. If you let the string quartet know as much detail as possible, they can provide you with an accurate quote for your requirements.

When you submit your Encore enquiry, we’ll show you a graph of expected rates to guide your budget selection.

Typical string quartet prices:

Up to 1 hour £700
1 to 2 hours £850
2 to 3 hours £950

Do I have to pay travel fees?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the quartet is not local. Most groups will travel for free within a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and will charge extra for any travel outside that area.

The standard rate is 47p/mile per person, so if the quartet needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47 per person for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide – each quartet will set their own fees, depending on whether they can travel together or separately.

We recommend booking a string quartet local to your venue to save on travel costs—remember, on Encore, you can always filter by location when searching for string quartets.

Browse all String Quartets →


Hopefully, this guide answers all of your questions but if you have any further questions about string quartets, or would just like to go ahead and begin your search for the perfect string quartet, you can:


Cover image courtesy of City String Ensemble

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James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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