Covid 19 Health and Safety for everybody

Now that lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted I am pleased to announce that I am ready to play as a soloist or part of our string quartet (Exe Valley String Quartet). We will follow all of the government guidlines and make sure that both all of the venue staff and guests are safe and that we as musicians are also safe when performing at your wedding or special event.  I/we also have included a Covid - 19 clause in our 'contract of engagement' so that everybody is clear from the beginning where we stand and we completely acknowledge that this is nobodys fault.

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The music starts again - in Weymouth!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Lockdown hasn't stopped the music!!

On March 14th I put my violin away in it's case and made my way home for the evening just like I would after any gig.  I had just played at a beautiful wedding in the Moorland Garden Hotel.  Little did anybody know what was about to happen across the nation.  Lockdown! What did this mean?  In short, all live music work would be cancelled or postponed.  No more weddings for the foreseeable future.  No more Rock Choir rehearsals or Rock Choir gigs for the foreseeable future. More importantly for me I think - no more musical interaction with other musicians.  What do I do now?  It is so important at times like these to keep a positive mind and to keep a healthy mind and not let things get you down.  Yes there have been bad days and indifferent days where you start to wonder if there will be any gigs ever again and we are certainly not out of the woods yet.  We have just entered July and I am making this written note of what I have been doing since lockdown began.  First things first - get in touch with all my clients and re arrange all the gigs in the diary until at least October 2020.  It was a difficult task but thankfully this has been done and achieved with success.  What about Rock Choir?  We cant meet like we used to and every gig in the summer programme has disappeared because all the events have been cancelled. As you can see from the photo I have had to get my head around the latest technology as the only way forward was to move the choir online!  Those people that know me well will also know that this wasnt something that I found particularly easy and certainly not an enjoyable prospect!  With help from many friends and colleagues, far more knowledgeable than me, we did it!  I host three Zoom choir sessions every week.  To start with I was very unimpressed!  How can I run a choir and not be able to hear them sing? (Singers have to muted due to the latency!) I am just conducting my mac!  Urgh!!!! Over time I have come to realize that you have to make the very best of any given situation.  It was Zoom choir or no choir. Alongside my lovely choir members we have learnt to really enjoy Zooming.  Its lovely to see each other and I can teach the choir new material and we can sing through older songs.  Yes the members are singing in isolation but you can see your choir buddies and you can hear them in the rehearsal tracks so it is close to what we had!  We are coming to the end of a very different 'virtual' term but it has been a great experience.  Alongside Zoom sessions I have put together individual video tutorials for each section of the choir for each of the five songs that we have learnt together.  We have had facebook live sessions, Zoom quizes, fancy dress sing alongs as well as a lockdown recording project with the members for We are the Champions by Queen.  (This was brilliant by the way!). 

As a violinist I have been grateful in many ways for the down time.  It has given me the time to practice so much more which I have really enjoyed.  I have been working on new arrangements of songs and pieces ready for when we can get out there and gig again.  I have been a part of some recording projects alongside local friends and musicians.  All in all I am making the very best of a difficult situation.  We still dont know when large weddings will start again and we still dont know when my choirs can meet up safely so this may only be 'half time' at the moment. If this goes on for a long time then I may well come back and give you all an update.  In the meantime I am in a good place, enjoying the downtime and practice time and enjoying working with my choir members to keep us all singing and in good health! Take care and stay safe.

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Dartmoor Wedding and St Patricks gig...

Lovely wedding ceremony yesterday at The Moorland Garden Hotel. Congratulations to Olivia and James on a beautiful wedding. Olivia walked into Canon by Pachelbel. I played 'All of me' and 'Say a little prayer for you' during the signing of the register and the wedding party exited to 'Sky full of stars' by Coldplay. This was my first visit to this hotel and really enjoyed my first experience. Lovely hotel, lovely setting and lovely staff.  Busy day yesterday. After playing at a wedding in Yelverton I dashed back to Dawlish to play at the St Patricks night at the The Ugly Duckling Dawlish. I joined Francine (Guitar and vocals) and Colin (Bass) as we played Irish jigs, reels and airs and other tiddly tiddly tunes. We also had a good sing of many classic Irish songs. Lovely evening with lovely food in a lovely restaurant. Thank you for the invitation to play.

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A very special Rock Choir experience.

We spent a lovely afternoon yesterday visiting a school for children of all ages who have both learning and physical disabilities. We were invited to perform because three of our rockies are teaching staff at this amazing school. What a wonderful and extremely humbling experience it was for us all! The kids, aged from about 5 up to 18 loved it! They sang and clapped and danced throughout the set and were totally engaged with the choir. One young girl signed the entire performance of 'All of me' - stunning. I love these small, intimate and personal gigs as do all the rockies who by the way were awesome! Thanks everyone and well done to the four rockies performing their debut gig! You were amazing!

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What do we do in the winter break?

January and February is always a little bit quieter in terms of concerts and gigs.  This gives us the oportunity to have a little breather.  We still continue to practice and work on new material.  We recently spent the afternoon meeting clients at Bovey castle for their Wedding open day.  I have also been busy arranging new pieces for weddings and events coming up in the spring.  These new pieces include Tchaikovsky Waltz from Eugene and Onegin and Tightrope (Greatest Showman), Never Gonna Let you down (Rita Ora) and Past the point of no return (Phantom).

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Les Miserables Vocal Workshop January 4th 2020

What a great way to start the new year and the new century!  200 singers came together in Newton Abbot with one thing on their mind - The amazing music from Les Miserables!  The enormous choir was made up of rock choir members from all Devon and Cornwall and we also welcomed a large number of singers from other choirs as well as people who just fancied to start the new year with a good sing!  It was amazing!  It was emotional!  It was so uplifting!  Richard arranged bespoke versions of the hits 'I dreamed a dream', 'Bring him home', 'Castle on a cloud' and 'At the end of the day'.  The choir rose to the challenge as we knew they would!  There were many many beautiful musical vocal moments in the three and a bit hours we spent together.  We sang, we laughed and we cried together.  Les Miserables Vocal Workshop 2020 was a huge success!  What shall we do next time?

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Christmas Wedding at Langdon Court, Wembury.

Lovely Christmas wedding at the very beautiful Langdon Court. Congratulations to Laura and Matt on a lovely wedding. Busy one for me (as I like it!). Violin for the ceremony (All of me, I will wait and Best day of my life). Upbeat tunes and songs on the violin for the drinks reception. To finish off the day I played some background piano classics for the wedding breakfast. Phew! That is it for the year now.

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Traditional Christmas Wedding at Ottery St Mary Church

We played at the very beautiful Ottery St Mary Church today for a festive Christmas wedding. Although the weather was awful outside there was a warm and festive atmosphere inside. This was a wedding with all the trimmings. String Quartet, Organist, Choir and Bell Ringers. Pachelbels Canon for the brides entrance and then some of Handel's Water Music for the signing. This was our final gig of 2019. We would love to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a huge thank you for following us this year and in fact this decade. 2020 is already looking like another great year for the Exe Valley String Quartet. Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year everybody!

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Rockies in Tavistock battling the elements (exceptionally well!)

On Sunday we had another trip to Tavistock with the Rockies from Plymouth and Saltash.  Following on from our successful visit in November and the Tree Lights switch on event we joined Miss Ivy Events again to sing in the Christmas market and festival.  It was cold and wet and very windy but in true Rock Choir fashion we just got on with it and sung our hearts out!  Well done everyone and Happy Christmas.

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Exe Valley String Quartet play for 'Light up a life' service in Exeter Cathedral

Last night we played as part of the Light up a life service in Exeter Cathedral and as always it was a real pleasure to be a part of such a special evening. We played a new arrangement of 'Something inside so strong' as the book of memory was brought forward and the congregation spent time reflecting and remembering loved ones.

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Rock Choir Rock Yurt in Cornwall!

Well, in all my years in the music business I have performed and conducted in some wonderful venues but this is my first ever performance in a YURT in December!! A huge shout out and well done to Rockies from Saltash and Plymouth with one or two very dedicated rockies from Torquay and Newton Abbot for not only turning out to sing in awful weather - well done for finding the Yurt!! I have to say though it turned out to be a cracking night with a great audience. I know I am biased but I think we sounded particularly good last night. The singing was full of passion, intensity and energy. Really good! On to Tavistock on Sunday. Thank you Miss Ivy Events for a gig with a difference!

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Beyonce and Bach at Exmouth Wedding!

I always enjoy a traditional church wedding. On Friday I was at St Johns Church in Exmouth to play for the wedding of Stevie and Ryan. It was beautiful. The acoustics were great and the guests were very appreciative. I was on the piano for the hymns and the violin for the pre ceremony, brides entrance, signing of the register and wedding party exit. It was so nice to play Ave Maria, Air on G string, Greensleeves and Canon in D. I then played a bespoke and incredibly unique arrangement of Beyonce's Crazy in Love!!! What a job - so cool!

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100 Rockies singing for the Guide Dogs in Newton Abbot

Wow Wow Wow!!! What a sound, what a gig, what a choir! We had a brilliant day in Newton Abbot singing for the Christmas shoppers and raising some serious money for Guide Dogs South West. 100 Rockies singing passionately is a privilege to stand in front of and direct! You were all awesome and I am very proud of you all this evening. Huge thanks to Phil at Prosound Solutions SW Limited for doing us proud again with the sound. A wonderful Rock Choir vibe today. We go again at Cockington Court tomorrow at 1pm. Harrison is putting together a video of the day which I will share with all when finished!

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Rocking Teignmouth!

Rockies from Teigmouth, Newton Abbot and Torquay had the pleasure of rocking Teignmouth at their Christmas Tree Light switch on event last night. It was a lovely festive afternoon and evening with live music, stalls, festive food and drink and a lantern parade. The rock choir rounded off the event and as always looked and sounded superb!  Well done rockies on another great night.

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Rock Choir rock Tavistock

We had lovely day out yesterday in beautiful Tavistock. We went as a family to look around the markets and the historic town which was a really nice thing to do in the lead up to Christmas. I then joined 60 rockies and rocked Tavistock in the evening as they turned on their Christmas lights. It was so nice to see some past rockies in the crowd supporting the choir. Considering there was no sound check for anybody we sounded fab! Yvonne and the children who were in the crowd said it sounded great! Well done everyone and thank you Tavistock.

 

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Corporate Champagne Reception Gig

Great evening at Somerset County Cricket Club last night. I played live electric violin for the drinks reception event for the Devon and Law Society Devon & Somerset Law Society. This was a pre drinks champagne reception before their meal. I played a mixture of contemporary covers as well as a set of new light jazz classics like I've got rhythm, The girl from Ipanema and Summertime. Enjoyable evening. I even got to meet Beefy Botham (kind of!)

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Somerset Weddings

I have just come to the end of another busy weekend as a wedding and event violinist and pianist. I spent the weekend in Somerset playing at the very lovely Coombe Lodge at Blagdon and also today I had the pleasure of playing at Clevedon Hall. Both stunning venues (even if Saturday was very wet and windy.) Two lovely weddings and as always a privilege to play at both. Requests included All of Me, A Million Dreams and A Thousand Years. I also played on the grand piano at Coombe Lodge for the drinks reception including a bit of Bob Marley for the bride! Congratulations Sherrol, Chris, Rhiannon and Sam.  Nice to be back in Weston Super Mare as it gave me the chance to catch up with mum and dad and my sister Sarah.

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Gigging on the Pont Aven!

I have just returned from three days on the Pont Aven sailing from Plymouth to Santander. We all had such a great time and it gave me a real insight into being a musician on a ship.  Tiring and demanding but a whole load of fun! This is Rozzy Turner the entertainment manager for the mini cruise.  She is ace and has an amzing voice!  I directed the Rock Choirs as we flash mobbed the passengers and sang three more full sets rocking the ship (literally!).  We also sang around the piano and I even managed to play a 30 minute set on my electric violin which was great fun!  Until next time!

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Exe Valley Strings at Rockbeare Manor

I had a lovely afternoon with @ExeValleyStringQuartet yesterday. Even though the weather was wet we played for a really beautiful wedding ceremony and reception at Rockbeare Manor. We played the wedding theme from 'Up' which is gorgeous and then we wrote a bespoke arrangement of 'Came here for love' for the bride and groom which is another great tune for strings to play.

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