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FAQ


  1. How much does it cost to book your services?
    Wedding ceremonies start at $850. Contact us for custom pricing on cocktail hours, rehearsal and wedding dinners and similar events.
  2. At what types of events does the Quartet perform?
    The Quartet performs for a wide variety of events. This has included weddings, receptions, corporate functions, religious services, concerts, radio broadcasts and recordings.
  3. What does the Quartet wear when performing?
    Your event is special and we will dress for the occasion. Unless otherwise requested, formal black is the attire.
  4. Does the Quartet perform outdoors?
    We enjoy performing outdoors but our instruments can not be exposed to:
    - Extreme temperatures (below 60 degrees or above 95 degrees)
    - Direct sunlight
    - Rain or other precipitation
    - Any elements, natural or man-made that could cause damage.

    Stringed instruments require great care, are very costly to repair and in most cases are not replaceable. We require contingency plans be made and communicated in advance of the event in case of inclement weather.
  5. What do I need to provide for the Quartet on the day of the performance?
    We will need four chairs without arms set up in the area where we will perform. Folding chairs are fine. We will bring our own stands and work with the people at the location site to ensure that everything is set up properly.

    If the performance is to take place out of doors, the Quartet will need a consistent source of shade, from a building, tent or tree cover. Direct sunlight will soften and eventually melt the varnish on the instruments.
  6. What happens if a member of the Quartet is sick or unable to perform at my event?
    Should a Quartet member become unable to attend a given performance, we will call on one of our highly qualified Guest Artists or substitutes who perform with us on just such occasions.
  7. Does the Quartet play at events outside of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) metropolitan area?
    Yes. Travel within 40 minutes of our office is included in the Quartet’s fee. Outside the 40-minute ring, travel fees are based on time and distance. Events that are significantly far away, requiring airplane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms, will need to be arranged individually. Please contact us directly with the specifics of your request.
  8. We have a vocalist/another instrumentalist performing at our event. Can the Quartet accompany them?
    We often collaborate with vocalists and other musicians on commonly performed repertoire. The Quartet can also make recommendations for other respected instrumentalists (such as trumpet, flute, guitar) or vocalists. Contact us directly with details or to ask for more information.
  9. Will the Quartet need to take breaks?
    A 10-minute break is required hourly for total performance times longer than 90 minutes
  1. How does the Quartet fit into a wedding ceremony?
    Generally the quartet plays 20-30 minutes of prelude music before the ceremony while guests are being seated. The prelude music is followed by the ceremony music which can include 1-2 processional pieces, optional interlude pieces and the recessional. Postlude music is played as your guests leave.
  2. Will the Quartet be at the wedding rehearsal?
    We do not normally attend wedding rehearsals as most of the details which directly affect the Quartet's performance during the service will have been worked out before the rehearsal date.
  3. Where should the quartet be positioned at the ceremony and reception?
    When performing a wedding ceremony, the quartet needs to be located where they can see the processional or the person giving cues for the processional. They will also need to be able to hear the officiant. At your reception the best location is in an area close to you and your guests, but out of the flow of traffic. In both cases the performance area needs to be at least 10 feet by 10 feet and well lit.
  4. Will the Quartet be able to work with our minister/organist/vocalist/etc.?
    Yes. If there are specific things that need to be coordinated, please provide the name and contact information in the comments box and we will work out details with them directly.
  5. Can we help choose the repertoire for our ceremony and reception? Will the Quartet play a particular song we want to request?
    Yes to both questions. You can start by reviewing our Repertoire List. Contact Us directly if you don't see what you are looking for. Likewise, if there is a piece you definitely do not want to hear, please let us know that too.
  6. Will the Quartet be able to play music associated with my religious denomination at my wedding ceremony?
    Yes. If the music you want is not in our repertoire, we will need copies of the music from a hymnal or other source prior to the ceremony.
  7. Why does the Quartet recommend a Cantor for congregational singing?
    Most wedding guests do not tend to sing during a wedding if the music is unfamiliar. If you want people to sing as part of your wedding ceremony a cantor can help the congregation feel more comfortable and encouraged to join in the singing. Some denominations actually require a cantor for sung services. Please consult your minister on requirements for your ceremony. If you do have a cantor or vocalist and you would like us to accompany them, please provide us with their contact information so we can coordinate the music.
  8. We have a vocalist/another instrumentalist performing at our wedding. Can the Quartet accompany them?
    We often collaborate with vocalists and other musicians on commonly performed wedding music, such as Ave Maria or Trumpet Voluntary. Contact us directly with details. If you would like an additional performer and need referrals, the Quartet can make recommendations for other respected instrumentalists (such as trumpet, flute, guitar) or vocalists. Contact us for more information.
  9. What if a key participant is late to the ceremony?
    We will continue playing prelude music until all celebrants arrive as our schedule permits.
  10. What happens if an unforeseen event occurs during the ceremony?
    Over the years we have seen and accommodated many unexpected events. Whether it is a flower girl who doesn't quite make it down the aisle during the processional or a minister who makes a mistake in the flow of the ceremony, we are able to provide a smooth transition from the unanticipated.
  1. What music does the Quartet perform?
    You can find titles and composers of pieces we play, as well as listening samples on the Music pages. These pages are updated frequently and includes many classical and non-classical selections. If there is a piece you would like to have performed that isn’t on the list, let us know and we’ll see if we can find it. We will try to find published music, but if it's not available or the music does not work for strings, we may be able to have it arranged for the quartet for a fee.
  2. Are audio samples of the Quartet available?
    Yes. There are audio samples throughout this web site. The Music pages have the most comprehensive collection of audio links.
  3. I'm not sure which pieces to include. What should I do?
    Contact us with a description of your event and we will be happy to offer suggestions. If you are planning a wedding, you can check out the Wedding Music page to get some ideas.
  4. Am I able to pick specific pieces and/or the order I want to have them played at my event?
    Yes. You can make selections from our Music pages or inquire about specific pieces not on these lists - or we can make selections for you based upon the type of mood you are looking to set for your event - whatever you prefer. We tailor the type of music performed specifically to your event and are able to accommodate special requests as well.
  5. One of the pieces I want played at my event is not on the list. Will the Quartet be able to get it and perform it at my event?
    Most requests for special music can be accommodated. Contact the Quartet directly with your question.
  6. I don't want a particular piece played at my event. What should I do?
    If you don't want to hear it, we won't play it! Just be sure to tell us in advance so we can leave it out.
  7. Will the Quartet be able to play music associated with my religious denomination at my wedding ceremony?
    Yes. If the music you want is not in our repertoire, we will need copies of the music from a hymnal or other source prior to the ceremony.
  1. How can I reserve the Quartet for my event?
    • The first step is to fill out the information on the Contact page so we can determine if the Quartet is available for your event. We will reply to your inquiry with our availability and give you a price quote based on the length of performance time requested.

    • Once the Quartet's availability is verified, you may call or send a reply stating you would like to reserve the Quartete for your event. At that time, we will put a hold on your date and send you a contract.

    • To finalize the reservation, return a signed copy of the contract with your deposit. The deposit can be made by check, or with a credit card.
  2. What happens after I make the reservation?
    After your reservation is confirmed, we will ask for a detailed description of your event so we can choose the most appropriate music, as well as discuss how you would like the music to fit into your event. If your event is a wedding you will prepare and submit a list from our Planning Page outlining the specific pieces you want performed at your ceremony. We ask that you submit this at least two weeks before your wedding date.
  3. How far in advance do I need to book the Quartet?
    You can book the quartet up to 18 months in advance. You should book us as early as possible, especially if your event is on a Saturday or close to a holiday. Bookings are done on a first-come, first-served basis.
  4. How are performance fees calculated?
    Wedding ceremonies are billed at a flat rate. This includes up to 1 and 1/2 hours of performance time, music selection consultations, coordination required to facilitate performance of specific requests (special liturgical selections, rehearsals with other musicians, etc.), prelude music while your guests are being seated, the ceremony music and postlude music while your guests leave the venue.

    Quartet fees for other events, including wedding receptions, are based on the amount of performance time requested. Hours can be prorated to the ½ hour after the first full hour.

    Travel within a 40 minute radius of our office in south Minneapolis is free. Charges begin outside the 40-minute perimeter and are calculated in 15-minute intervals.
  5. How and when do we pay the Quartet for their services?
    We require a deposit when you return your signed contract. This will confirm your reservation and secure the Quartet's performance at your event. The balance is due two weeks before your event. We accept checks, cash and all major credit cards (through PayPal) from the Box Office page. Checks should be made out to The Birchwood String Quartet and mailed to our office at 1726 Stanford Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105.
  1. What is a string quartet?
    A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four acoustical wooden instruments that are all played with a bow. It includes:
    -Two violins; The violin is the smallest member of the string family; it has the highest range in the quartet and is most easily recognized as the melodic instrument.
    -One viola; The viola is slightly larger than the violin. It has a more mellow sound and slightly lower range and complements the violin melody in harmony.
    -One cello; Larger than both the violin and viola with an much lower range, the cello has a deep, rich sound and is played upright, resting between the cellist's knees. It is usually played as a solo instrument or as the bass voice in an ensemble.

    The string quartet became prominent in the late 1700s and was popularized by the composer Franz Joseph Haydn. Many composers after him, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok and Shostakovich continued to compose for the string quartet. It continues to be a very popular configuration to this day. Recently, string quartet repertoire has expanded to include show tunes, jazz, rock, pop, African and other world music.
  2. Where did The Birchwood String Quartet get its name?
    Our name was inspired by the breathtaking birch tree forests near the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. It is the reflectiveness and beauty of these natural surroundings that is at the heart of our music.
  3. Who made the recordings on this web site?
    All sound files on this web site were recorded by members of the Birchwood String Quartet. Over the years we have had a few personnel changes so not all the recordings are with current members, but all the arrangements heard here are still in our repertoire.