Today I played for the morning brunch at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora. If you're from the Buffalo area and haven't been to the Roycroft, make a point of stopping in sometime. They have a string quartet that plays from 10:30-12:30 during Sunday Brunch, and today I got to play.
I say 'I got to play' because it's really a pleasure more than a gig. For two hours, I get to play string quartets with my friends for an appreciative audience, followed by bacon. It's low stress, and it's always a new combination of players. There is a regular quartet, don't get me wrong, but they're busy musicians and more often than not one or more will be doing something else, and I'll get a call.
Today I played with one of the regulars, and two other players that I've played with before, but never in this combination. It's always fascinating to me how different players in a string quartet can change the entire sound of a piece of music I've played dozens of times. Today I played second violin on Haydn's Op.64, No.5, "The Lark." The violist had a completely different way of articulating the opening measures than how I usually play it, and I really enjoyed it. Our first violinist did some different things as well, especially in the Menuetto, and it was charming. This is one of the reasons I like playing weddings so much, I think; every time I play Pachelbel's Canon, (and it's hundreds of times by now,) there is something unique and different, and I learn a new way to play it.
Afterwards, we all stayed for the incredible buffet brunch, and talked shop. I had a very nice conversation with the other violinist about the gigging quartet scene in Western New York. We both run our own quartets, and it's nice to have friends in the business who I can talk to about marketing, who we can call to sub, new musicians in the area, and maybe just a bit o' gossip. All in all, it was a very pleasant morning with my quartet friends, and I'm already looking forward to the next time.
I've heard those words hundreds of times.
"And now it is my pleasure to introduce, for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs....!"
It's always a wonderful moment. Two people becoming one. The quartet starts to play, and the happy couple walks back down the aisle into married life.
I feel a bit like that now.
This is the beginning of Queen City Strings. My name is Ted Smeltz, and I'm the founder.
For years, I've been playing string quartets in Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA. Sometimes with my previous quartet, sometimes with other quartets. (I currently play or sub in six quartets, including QCS; the life of a gigging musician is a busy one!) My previous quartet was the Presto String Quartet, and we played together for ten years in the Buffalo area. We played weddings, ceremonies, cocktail hours, corporate events, you name it, we played it. We played concerts, coffee houses, brunches. We were busy, and it was good.
But life intrudes. Over the years, we had people come in and out of the group for various reasons. One had to take a sabbatical while working on a doctorate. One of our founding members graduated with a degree in pharmacy science, and got a really good job in Delaware. It's a little long for a commute, Delaware. Another of our founders had shoulder problems and couldn't play as much as before. Eventually, it just became time to end. It's sad, and I'm going to miss those times together. I was one of the founding members and now it's over.
But as something ends, another begins. When it became obvious even to me that Presto was going to close, I decided to begin Queen City Strings.
Queen City is going to be the string quartet that I'll lead for the rest of my career, if I'm lucky. (Not that I'll stop playing in other quartets; heavens, no! Gigging musician here!) I'll be able to bring my two-plus decades of string quartet and gig experience to the table, and make Queen City Strings something special. We're going to make good music in Buffalo, and hopefully beyond. We're going to grow and evolve, and gain followers and fans. And one day, we hope to play for you.
I have the honor to introduce, for the very first time, Queen City Strings.
|Queen City Strings- Buffalo, New York's wedding, event, and corporate string quartet solution.|