What is a string quartet?
One of the most popular ensembles in classical music, a string quartet is a group of four string players – traditionally two violinists, a viola player and a cellist. Live string quartets specialise in performing a variety of classical and popular music for all occasions, from formal to informal.
Their performances are tailored specifically for the requirements of functions, with string quartets often being booked as wedding ceremony musicians or to provide background music during a wedding drinks reception, as well as private parties and corporate events.
What music will a string quartet play?
Traditionally, a string quartet gives recitals of works by the classical masters. However, most quartets also incorporate a modern repertoire that includes jazz, swing, pop, folk, Bollywood, show tunes and film themes that most audiences will know. You could expect music by composers and artists such as:
- John Williams
- Hans Zimmer
- Cole Porter
- The Beatles
- Etta James
- Stevie Wonder
- Take That
- Van Morrison
The profile page for each string quartet features a set list, where you can browse their repertoire.
Popular types of string quartet
1. Classical Music
Traditional chamber music offers an elegant and refined ambience, and is the mainstay of the classically-trained string quartet. You can expect symphonies from the giants of the classical world, including Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi.
2. Popular Music
Playing modern music in a string quartet style can add a real buzz to events – it’s not only exciting but enchanting too. Covering artists like Queen, Sinatra, The Beatles, Adele, and Abba, string quartets can lend a relaxed and upbeat twist on popular tunes that many of your guests will know – the perfect backdrop to your stylish event.
Where in the UK do Alive string quartets perform?
String quartets usually perform at weddings, corporate events, parties, gala balls, and in venues across the UK and internationally. Our string quartets most often play in locations such as:
Most popular counties:
Most popular cities:
Is a string quartet suitable for my event?
Usually the headline daytime entertainment, string quartets perform live classical chamber music and popular tunes, depending on your event requirements. Many also provide a variety of other musical styles, from jazz, swing, or folk to big show tunes and film themes. Whatever music you choose, a string quartet will set a range of moods, from relaxed and elegant to lively and uplifting – but always stylish! String quartets are an elegant choice for most occasions, including:
Our String quartets are popular with couples looking to create a special ambience at their wedding. Music can be played for guests as they gather before the ceremony to creating an exciting atmosphere in the build up to the ceremony. During the ceremony, the string quartet will play for the bride’s entrance, the signing of the register, and the exit of the married couple. Strings also work beautifully for a drinks reception and wedding breakfast.
Because they generally perform unamplified, string quartets can change locations relatively easily. This helps if you’re having a church ceremony followed by a champagne reception elsewhere.
For corporate events, string quartets can provide a very effective soundtrack to mingling, cocktails and fizz, as well as performing walk-on music for awards.
Some quartets can offer a trio option, which comprises of 2 violins and a cello. These options can alter the repertoire and sound, but often suit smaller functions and can be an effective alternative if budget is limited. The options available for each string quartet are shown on their profile page. Simply select your preferences when you make an online enquiry.
Where string quartets are not part of the wedding ceremony, usual standard performance times are 45 minutes to 1 hour, with short breaks in between – up to 3 hours’ time in total.
Volume considerations at your event
If you’ve ever heard a live string quartet, you’ll know they can play as quietly or as loudly as the performance requires, or the venue acoustics and occasion demands. Volumes are regularly in the region of 70dB – 85dB. This is a pleasant, medium volume over which most conversation can be heard.
As such, string quartets are often a good choice for venue’s with a sound limiter or noise restrictions a string quartet. Feel free to check with our Entertianment Coordinators who can help advise you in such instances. For more information about sound limiters check out our guide here
Space considerations at your event
A typical string quartet will need space for four musicians to sit in a semi-circle with their instruments and music stands, and with room to bow – approximately 3 metres wide by 2 metres deep.
For approximate requirements, see ‘How much space will a string quartet need?’, below.
How much does a string quartet cost?
Prices vary depending on the quality and experience of the quartet, and the distance artists need to travel to your event.
In 2017, the average price of a string quartet is around £620.
Top-billed quartets who specialise in corporate events vary in price between £2,200 – £3,500 depending on their experience.
The best way to reduce costs is to find a string quartet who are based locally. The home town location of all Alive Network string quartets is shown on the roster pages and also on each artists’ profile page. You can also ask your coordinator to recommend the best string quartet local to your event.
Who are the top 10 best string quartets in the UK right now?
Below are the acts that we feel currently stand out as the principal string quartets in the UK, based on a combination of popularity, performance quality and innovation:
For a list of Alive's most booked string quartets right now, see our 'Top 10 String Quartets For Hire in 2017' article
How long will a string quartet play for?
Depending on the event and your requirements, string quartets usually perform 45 minute to 1 hour sets followed by a short break. They are most often booked to perform between 3 – 4 sets
How much space will a string quartet need?
To perform to the best of their abilities, string quartets need plenty of room to play their instruments comfortably. They usually sit on armless chairs in a semi-circle, facing the room, with their music stands in front of them.
Minimum stage size requirements
3 × 2 metres
String players can accommodate most situations as long as it’s safe, flat, and their musical movement is unrestricted. A comfortable performance area is best, however, to ensure you and your guests get the best performance possible!
How long will it take for a string quartet to set up?
A string quartet will usually arrive 30 – 45 minutes prior to their performance to set and tune up, depending on how close to the performance area the quartet can park. Some city centre hotels insist musicians load in via a suppliers’ entrance, using an elevator shared with caterers and staff – this can extend set-up times.
Following their performance, it can take around 15 minutes for a string quartet to pack away and load out.
What equipment will a string quartet need?
To enable a great performance, most string quartets require:
- 4 armless chairs
- a flat, suitably-sized, dry and safe performance area. If playing outside, they will require cover – either from the rain or from the scorching sun!
- 13 amp power sockets, if they’re an electric string quartet or have electric elements to their line up
- parking provision, preferably with easy access to the venue
- a secure, lockable changing room
- refreshments such as soft drinks and sometimes food, depending on how long you have booked them for.
String quartets will provide all of their own instruments, music stands, and lights for their music stands, if required.
If a PA system is needed, this will normally be provided by the client. Please ask your Alive Network co-ordinator if you need help with this.
For a more comprehensive string quartet booking guide please read ‘Booking a string quartet – Everything you’ll ever need to know’.
If you have any other queries, simply visit our FAQ page.
Alternatively, our dedicated expert entertainment coordinators are on-hand to help. Simply call 0845 108 5500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.