Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fun in Virginia Beach Events 10/6/11 through 10/8/11

Pizza place on 10/6/11
Kirill's new Ride

Neil workin on his high score

Deanna, Kirill, and Erik at Cavalier on the Hill

Neil and Deanna

Dinner time

Educational Outreach in Chesapeake, VA

On Friday, October 7, 2011, we were honored to be invited by high school orchestra director, Deanna Kringel to perform for an educational outreach program at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, VA.
It was 10:05am in the morning, and Kirill, Erik and I were escorted to the auditorium to meet with Deanna's freshman orchestra class at 10:30am.  We were already planning which songs we were going to play for the kids.  Deanna recommended the fun pop stuff that we already play.  The first thing that came to mind was Lady Gaga.  We were excited to add in Coldplay, Freebird and other cool stuff.
When the kids entered the auditorium they all seemed excited to hear us play.  Deanna introduced us and we all gave brief speeches on where we went to school, etc. 
I thought it would be fun to turn our performance into a game so I said, "why don't we play Name that Tune"?  We opened the program with "Alejandro".  After the performance, Deanna asked everyone if they knew the tune.  The entire class raised their arms.  At that point, I knew we were a hit with Deanna's orchestra class.  We continued to play Coldplay, Freebird, GnR, and Foo Fighters.  They loved us!  They also asked the most interesting questions.  My favorite questions were "what is the hardest thing you've ever played" and "why do you move like that"? 
Deanna video taped the whole program to show to her 2nd class.  She texted me and was ROFL after she told me that they loved us and that the most memorable things were my green shirt, Erik's viola and Kirill's body movements.  Her kids stated "You're a BEAST".  Again I was ROFL.  All in all, our trip to Virginia Beach was even more rewarding due to our experience with the students at Oscar Smith High.  Thanks for inviting us!
St. Charles Quartet

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The St. Charles quartet has been very busy, which is why we have been negligent about our postings.

Let's see....since our last trip to Alabama, we have been as far north as Milton Pennsylvania and as far South as Jamestown, North Carolina. Both gigs were among our favorites and we had a fun time eating, drinking, and chatting with the guests. Thanks to Matty, from Milton, who shared our dinner table (which the bride and groom so graciously welcomed us to!!) for telling us about the fun sites of Milton- most famously, the Lewisburg Penitentiary who is home to many notorious criminals. The St. Charles quartet drove by the gates of the Penitentiary after the wedding and snapped some pictures. Neil re-enacted some prisoner escape scenes for us.

This is only the beginning of our travels. Already, Neil has been prepping us for the Canada gig (which unfortunately, I will not be able to attend).

In thinking about what would be the most useful postings for our clients, I decided to put together a series of "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" for weddings. After all, I have seen about 200 weddings, and the veterans of the group (Neil and Gabe) have probably witnessed double that amount. Just a few helpful suggestions to our wonderful brides and grooms who are taking the utmost care to make their grand day as flawless as they can make it.

Thou Shalt:
1. anticipate the worst-case weather scenario. The St. Charles quartet has witnessed turbulent rain, wind, thunder, and lightning in the middle of weddings set up only for the outdoors. We make every effort to keep the music going (a la the famous quartet who continued to play as the Titanic sank). It has been so windy that our clothing pins wouldn't hold the music to our stands, and our stands would not stay standing unless we clamped our feet to the bases of the stands. I believe we have even been able to forego our stands and play the music by memory....but even with music accompaniment, guests may not enjoy being rained upon, and your candle-lighting ceremony will be a futile effort if every gust of wind blows out your unity candle before the symbolic unifying flame can be lit. We have also seen guests baking outside. As stated in our contract, the St. Charles quartet will do anything to keep the music going, but we cannot play if our instruments will be subjected to direct sunlight or rain. We, the musicians, love a good tanning opportunity, but unfortunately, our instruments are less resilient and a tanning session for my violin would mean irreversible warping of wood. Also, in humid weather, our instrument pegs will slip out of tune and our bowhair loses tension, making it difficult for us to play with the vibrant upbeat character (a proud signature of the St. Charles Quartet).

Corollary 1: Anticipate the direction of shade in deciding how to set up your chairs, tables, ceremony, cocktail hour event.

Corollary 2: Secure wedding programs if you have programs that you want to pre-distribute by placing in the guests' chairs. Make sure the wind won't blow them around.

Corollary 3: Offer water to guests during the ceremony, if you have an outdoors summer wedding At one wedding, the couple made the cutest customized water bottle labels for the water bottles they distributed to the guests. Unfortunately, they had not anticipated that the cool water bottle surface would collect moisture in the heat, so their printer ink labels smudged and left ink of the guests' hands.

2. Balance floral arrangements: the more glamorously tall the floral arrangements are, the more accident-prone the flowers become. At one event, the St. Charles quartet watched in horror as the wedding planner ran to catch a floral arrangement in a tall glass vase before it tipped. The valiant wedding planner saved the arrangement, but somehow, the almost-mishap triggered a psychological response where every floral arrangement looked slightly precarious. I am not sure if tort laws apply to damages claimed by guests attacked by floral arrangements at a wedding. You do not want to be the first to find out.

3. Beware of Bugs. Offer "off" to guests, if bugs will be a problem.

4. Monitor fertilizer at the venue: Be sure the venue does not put down fertilizer a few days around your event, around where your guests will be.

5. Distribute Sandals (for beach weddings and possible muddy lawn). Self-explanatory to any woman who has tried to walk on sand in 3-inch heels.

6. Avoid trees with falling parts. For a musician, our worst nightmare is explaining to our insurance company how our instrument was destroyed by an acorn that was, yes, tiny, but fell from such great heights that it build enough velocity to crack our instrument. We have dealt with these deadly acorns before and would hate to see your guests struggle similarly.

7. Train toddler/pet ring-bearers. Although it can elicit a lot of laughter and "awws" from the audience, a stray toddler or pet ring-bearer will have to be herded to the proper spot at some point during the ceremony. Be sure to have a back-up plan if your toddler/pet ring-bearer should wander astray.

8. Count on unexpected delays. We have rarely seen a wedding happen exactly on schedule. Occasionally, guests can be held up by weather or traffic. The St. Charles Quartet leaves ample time to get to our gigs because we have been the business long enough to know that anything can happen on the commute to a gig. We take tardiness very seriously, and although the St. Charles Quartet is incredibly loyal to one another and respect eachother, we have been known to get in vicious fights when one member is tardy. And by tardy, we mean the self-imposed 30-minute early call time we set for ourselves. And for special kudos to Neil, during the famous blizzard of 2010, Neil went to extraodinary lengths to make it to a gig in spite of the snow. After the gig, his car was frozen to the curb around the venue, and he had to leave his car behind (which was later towed....) Not a good day for Neil, but just another testimony of the St. Charles Quartet's dedication to making it to our clients' events.

That's all I've got for now. I haven't covered "thou shalt nots." In keeping with positive reinforcement, I have managed to keep all tips in the positive "thou shalt" form.

Above all, recognize that something will definitely go wrong in your wedding. That is part of the charm! After all, the relationship being celebrated is going to be peppered with obstacles. The wedding day will not be exempt from that rule! Once you accept that something is bound to go wrong on the wedding day, embrace the day with a sense of adventure and you're in the right mentality to embark on a life of marital bliss (with all its triumphs and tribulations).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Performance at Bostons in Waldorf

We're peforming at  Bostons Gourmet Pizza in Waldorf this Friday April 23rd
from 5pm-9pm (about five or six 20 minute sets throughout the time frame).

We're performing Jazz, Nirvana, and Coldplay, Oh Yeah!!!!
Performers are:
Neil Puzon, Annelisa Guries, Erik Klevjer, and Kirill Romanov.
No tickets required.  Enjoy music as you dine at Bostons Pizza (awesome pizza!)
Donations accepted.

Visit http://www.bostonsmaryland.com/ for directions.

Friday, April 16, 2010

T-minus 1 hour before roadtrip to Alabama...

I am packed and ready for the St. Charles Quartet road trip to Alabama. Neil and Kirill will be dropping by my apartment to pick me up soon. It will be a grueling 24-hour trip, but we are excited because the bride and groom sound like really awesome people...they even invited us to join them for food and drinks! Too bad Gabe is not coming with us. I sent him the following "Argument for Alabama":


I would like to welcome you to the possibility of endless adventure...in Alabama!

and for some local flavor...

We may even pass this road sign....

Yours Truly,


Gabe was not convinced...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Victoria has a new iPhone - Hallelujah!

Now that Victoria has a new iPhone she will be
posting blogs more often.  This is what she told
me the other night.  So stay tuned for some juicy blogs
from Vic.
She's excited with her new phone.  We're all glad
that she has gotten rid of her poor broken phone (she
had to put on speaker phone to make it work - long story).
Hurray for Victoria!!!!!!