On Saturday I played for a wedding at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. The drinks reception was held outside on the lawn and the drinks reception in the dining hall.
I think this is a perfect venue for ex-Cambridge students – they can eat in the same hall as they probably did together during the time they were studying and, sometimes, in the same room they met their partner.
The Bride and Groom asked me to lean more towards my flamenco repertoire so it was nice to play some flamenco pieces that I hadn’t played in a while, including some Paco de Lucía pieces and some arrangements of Gipsy Kings songs that I have been working on.
… guess who has to play guitar?…
In May my dear friend Esther got married and invited my girlfriend and me to the wedding in Philadelphia. (I must say that I offered to play after she had invited me – she didn’t invite us expecting me to play…)
We met Esther whilst she was studying at UPENN at the same time as my girlfriend. A friend of hers was in a band that was touring from west coast to east coast (L.A. – N.Y.) and they needed a guitarist for the last few shows. I was planning to visit my girlfriend around this time and extended my dates so that I could also play in the last few shows in Pennsylvania and New York. Although Esther lives in Philadelphia, she is from Algeciras in southern Spain, not far from Seville, where I studied and still spend a lot of time so we have met up quite a few times in both Seville and Algeciras.
Being Spanish, Esther knows her Spanish guitar music and so requested some quite specific pieces along with a selection of Sevillanas, a folk dance from southern Spain danced in couples.
The wedding took place a beautiful setting by the river in a state park in Philadelphia. We then had canopés and drinks by the river and the wedding breakfast was held in an open-air restaurant overlooking the river. After the wedding breakfast we hopped on a quirky old bus from the 1950s and headed back into central Philly for a few drinks around the corner from Esther and Norman’s house.
I had a recording project in Salt Lake City with some musicians that I worked with on the Zorro project in 2012 so I travelled there first to record and then had a week gap before Esther’s wedding so I spent a week in Los Angeles as I had never been there before and wanted to see some iconic studios such as Sound City and visit some famous music venues such as The Baked Potato in Burbank and The Troubadour. I also managed a visit to Guitar Guitar in North Hollywood, possibly the biggest guitar store I have ever been to. I then headed to Philadelphia for the wedding and later spent a few days in New York where I played an impromptu gig with Susana Raye at The Bitter End. Susana is an up and coming artist who is the student of a friend of mine, Jon Geist, who has a studio on 54th street, Manhattan. Jon recently bought a long cream leather couch from a Psychiatrist who had a practice in the same block and this couch became my bed for two nights in New York – I must say I felt fantastic after two nights on the Psychiatrist’s couch!
All in all a fantastic trip and I look forward to being back in the U.S. in January 2014!
In case you’re wondering about the “scribbles” on my guitar, these are the autographs of The Gipsy Kings from when I played with them in London for the press night of their new musical Zorro.
* I feel the need to point out that I am a good friend of the Bride and would not normally post such personal pictures of a client’s wedding day on my blog, as you will see if you read my other posts.
Spanish guitar music
On Sunday I played for a civil wedding ceremony at Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckingham. Stowe Gardens are owned by the National Trust and span 250 acres and contains Stowe House, a beautiful building which, now a school, situated in the middle of the estate.
The gardens are very important in the history of English garden landscape design as many of the great garden designers from different period worked on the gardens and there sections have been maintained perfectly so that visitors can view with their own eyes how the design styles changed through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
There are over 40 historic temples and monuments on the grounds and the Bride and Groom who I played for married in the elegant temple in the photos above. The acoustics in this temple were phenomenal so the solo classical guitar sounded beautiful and suited the surrounding perfectly, setting the ideal ambiance for an intimate wedding (there were around 25 guests).
I played the following pieces:
Aisle walk: Canon in D by Pachelbel
Signing of the register: Your Song by Elton John
Exit of the Bride and Groom: The Queen Of Sheba
The ceremony was followed by canopés beside the temple and then the Bride, Groom and guests jumped into the buggies (to the right of the temple in the photo above right) and zoomed off around the gardens to take photos. The reception took place later in the evening in Battersea, London.
Classical Guitarist in Buckinghamshire
On Saturday I played for an outdoor ceremony at Little Hermitage, Kent. This venue from the 18th century has some traditional stone seating facing a traditional stone gazebo under which the Bride and Groom can marry in a civil ceremony. The owners of Little Hermitage live upstairs and rent out the ground floor of the Grade II listed Georgian manor house for weddings and private functions.
The room used for the wedding breakfast faces the gazebo and the Bride starts her aisle walk as she exits this room which means it is a long aisle walk (and meant I could play the full introduction to Canon In D, not always possible). The drinks reception was then held on the lawn between the gazebo and the house and the wedding breakfast in the house itself.
Ceremony song choices:
Processional: Canon in D by Pachelbel
Signing of the register: You Are The Sunshine Of My Life by Stevie Wonder
Recessional: Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai
wedding guitarist kent
On Saturday I played for a wedding ceremony at The Chapel of Royal Holloway, pictured above, in Egham, Surrey.
Royal Holloway is part of the University of London and this magnificent building which forms the main part of the campus is called The Founder’s Building. Construction of the building took place between 1874 and 1881 with funding coming from entrepreneur and philanthropist Thomas Holloway and the architect was William Henry Crossland.
The building was officially opened in 1886 by Queen Victoria, who allowed the use of “Royal” in the college’s name by Royal mandate. There is a statue of Queen Victoria just centre of the “north quadrangle”. The centre of the south quadrangle contains a statue of Thomas Holloway and his wife Jane. The marble statues were sculpted by Prince Voctor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (Count Gleichen).
The following programmes and films have been shot at this venue: Masterchef (2012), Trinity (2009), Honest (2008), Basic Instinct 2 (2006), Midsomer Murders (2002), Antiques Roadshow (2001), Howard’s End (1992), Salt and Pepper (1968).
I have played at this venue twice before; once for a drinks reception in the courtyard, and once in the gallery for a wedding breakfast. This time I played in the Chapel (pictured below).
The song choices for the ceremony were as follows:
Aisle walk: Canon in D
Signing of the register: Chiemsee (one of my compositions)
Exit: The Wedding March (Wagner)
I then also played for the wedding reception which was held at The white house in Beaumont Estate, Windsor.
Wedding Guitarist Surrey
After playing for a church ceremony at Royal Holloway on Saturday, I then also played for the reception drinks and wedding breakfast at The White House in the Beaumont Estate in Windsor. The drinks were outside the main entrance to the building with photos on the lawn and then we moved to the great hall where the meal was served. This room has great acoustics and the afternoon was perfect. The steak was great too.
On Saturday I play for the very first wedding held at Little Park House in Brimpton near Reading. The house has been hired out before for a few parties and sepcial events but this is the first wedding as the owners prepare to begin hosting more in the coming years. The lawn stretches over a very wide area and there is ample room for marquees accommodating 250+ guests. The Bride and Groom have access to the interior of the house and can stay the night. I’m not sure whether Little Park House have a licence to marry on site as the couple I played for were married in a local church. If you are looking for a venue off the beaten track and that not many people know about maybe you should pay Little Park House a visit, it’s well worth considering.
On Sunday I played for a beach wedding in Marbella, Spain. The Bride and Groom saw me play at the International Wedding Show at Earls Court in September when they were looking for ideas for their wedding. I was surprised when they asked if I would travel to Spain for their wedding as there are so many Flamenco Guitarists in Spain (and especially in Andalucía!) but they said most of the Guitarists they had found in the area only played flamenco and not the well-known songs and that they wanted their guests to be able to recognise the music being played. So I mixed in flamenco with popular songs arranged for Flamenco guitar.
Solo guitar music in the background always creates a special atmosphere at a wedding but so does the sound of the Mediterranean Sea lapping up onto the shore!
On Friday I played classical guitar for a wedding that took place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. It is a wonderful setting to hold your wedding with beautiful grounds and when the weather is good, like it was, there are punters on the river and people picnicking in the parks and fields which adds to the atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to playing at Saint Catherine’s College in Cambridge at the end of August for another wedding.
Last Saturday’s wedding was at the impressive Addington Palace near Croydon in Surrey.
The “Great Hall” has a minstrel’s gallery which is very high and offers fantastic acoustics for Spanish Guitar so I played from here on this occasion – the photo on the left above is one I took from the gallery where you can also see the beautiful tall windows.
The original manor house called ‘Addington Place’ was built about the 16th century. It was owned by one family until the 18th century when it was left to distant relatives of the deceased owner and, after a bit of wrangling, sold on to Barlow Trecothick, Lord Mayor of The City Of London.
The house was Grade listed in 1951. In 1953, it was leased to the Royal School of Church Music initially to house choirboys assembled from all over Britain to sing at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation
It is surrounded by a park and golf courses, and its gardens are still largely in their original design. The golf courses give an excellent backdrop and it has become a popular Surrey wedding venue.
I played throughout the drinks reception and wedding breakfast.