Frequently Asked Questions
This page covers many of the common questions people have. Whether you have any questions as yet or not, you may find this page informative.
If you don't find an answer to your question here, you'll find a link at the bottom of the page from which you may email us your inquiry. Or, simply include your question in the "Comments" portion of the Booking Inquiry Form.
How do I get price quotes?
To obtain a quote simply fill out and submit the Booking Inquiry Form and we'll give you a call within twenty-four hours. You can also call us directly at (617) 821-0597. Sorry, we do not provide quotes on this site or by email. This is because we prefer to establish direct contact with you, to provide you with a level of personalized service that helps to meet your unique needs.
Do you hire one core group of players, or do you hire out to a lot of different players?
Our musicians are comprised of a core of top, excellent professionals who have much experience performing together in chamber music and orchestral settings, as well as weddings and other events. They are hand-picked based on personal knowledge of their level of excellence and reliability, knowledge obtained from having performed together with them, not simply from verbal recommendation or hearsay. If one musician is unavailable for a date, another will be called, always from this small core of players very familiar with performing together.
How do I go about reserving a date?
The first step is to fill out and submit a Booking Inquiry Form or call us at (617) 821-0597. If you submit the form, we will call you within twenty-four hours to discuss your event and provide a quote. Then, after we've spoken and you think you're ready to reserve musicians, just call us or send an email letting us know you're ready to go forward. We will email you a contract that carries no obligation just for receiving it.
You are obligated to book with us only after returning the contract together with a 50% deposit. In order to ensure your sincerity in booking, the deposit is NON-REFUNDABLE in the event that you cancel the engagement. (Corporate clients may supply a P.O. number in lieu of sending a deposit.)
After we receive your deposit (or P.O. number) and the signed contract with deposit, we will proceed with booking the musicians. The balance of the fee is due one week before the engagement date.
Do you accept credit cards?
We no longer accept credit cards, as we found when we did accept them that most of our clients seem most comfortable paying by personal check anyway. We accept payments via PayPal or by personal check or money orders only, which means we don't have to pass on our bank's credit card fees to you, keeping your costs lower
Is a cash gratuity required, and if so, how much should it be?
A cash gratuity is a gracious gesture that will be gratefully accepted by the musicians. For bookings that are two hours or longer, or for those that are located 50 miles or more from Boston, a cash gratuity is especially appreciated.
A typical gratuity would be 10% of the booking fee. We leave it to your discretion as to whether or not to offer one; whatever you're comfortable doing, rest assured we will treat you as a valued client every bit as much either way.
Do you service locations outside of greater Boston?
We provide music for a large radius beyond Boston that includes the Cape and Islands, Rhode Island, points west as far as Worcester, southern New Hampshire/Maine, northeastern Connecticut, and any locations within that radius. If your event is outside of this radius, you should still contact us to see if we can service your area. (You will pay a per-musician mileage fee for locations more than twenty miles from Boston.)
I just need music for a half hour, maybe even less. Is this possible?
Our minimum hire for most instruments is one hour (harp is a two hour minimum hire). So, you'll be paying the same price for a half-hour of music as for one hour. It's best to find a way to use the musicians for more of the full hour for which you're paying.
If your wedding ceremony will be very short, keep in mind that we will play prelude music for fifteen minutes before the ceremony starts. Add that to a very possible late start (we often experience delays in ceremony start times on the part of the wedding party), and recessional and postude music. You'll probably find that more of the hour ends up being used than you might think
Am I responsible for choosing all of the wedding ceremony or cocktail hour music?
Not at all -- you choose only what you'd like to choose! Unless you have special requests for the prelude or for cocktail hour/reception music, we take care of that for you. For ceremony music, brides typically like to choose the processionals, interludes if any, and recessional. But we can take care of that, too, if you prefer.
Will you play music that we specifically request that isn't a standard part of your repertoire?
In most cases, yes, we certainly will. Usually we ask that the client provide us with piano sheet music for the special request. In virtually all cases we can read special requests off of the piano music.
Will your musicians play with a singer or other musician not hired by Classical Occasions, and if so, is rehearsal necessary?
We are happy to play with a singer who is not hired by Classical Occasions, and in certain cases we will play with an outside instrumentalist. If we have exactly the same music as they do, rehearsal is often not needed (usually the other musician provides us with the music they are using). Or, we can add a small amount of rehearsal time to the booking, which would take place right before we start playing the prelude to the ceremony. Whether we rehearse or not is really dependent upon the comfort level of your musician. If he or she is a professional, rehearsal may be unnecessary. You should talk to your musician to gauge his or her comfort level.
Will your musicians play outdoors?
In most cases, yes. The situations in which musicians will not play outdoors are probably about the same as those in which anyone else would not want to be outdoors - rainy or chilly weather. One exception, though, is excessive sunlight -- instruments are very sensitive to prolonged exposure to sunlight. And you'll find your musicians quickly ducking for cover at the slightest drop of rain, whether they're in the middle of playing or not. It is best if the musicians can be under some sort of covering (such as a gazebo or tent), to avoid any issues coming up related to too much sun or any rain at all. If the air temperature is below 60 degrees F., our musicians reserve the right to play outdoors at their discretion only.
Another issue to consider in planning for music outdoors is acoustics - or the lack thereof. Without any chamber within which the sound can reverberate, it quickly dissipates and thus can be hard to hear - especially if the wind is blowing. One solution is to rent amplification equipment (mikes, amp, and speakers).
Should I consider renting amplification equipment? Do you provide it?
Indoor wedding ceremonies: no amplification necessary.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies: amplification is optional. You might want to consider it, since it can help ensure that the musicians (and for that matter the officiator, bride, and groom) are heard.
Cocktail hours/receptions: amplification is optional. It is rarely used, although often there is so much loud talking it is very hard to hear the musicians. Amplification would ensure that what you are paying for is heard.
Classical Occasions does not generally provide amplification. We do provide it when a professional electronic keyboard is needed, or when a harp is hired for events with more than 60 guests. Decent amplification equipment for four instruments can be rented for a day at a relatively modest price.
I would like to hire a pianist, but there is no piano at the venue.
No problem -- if there is no piano onsite, we will supply a professional keyboard with amplifier. (There is an additional cartage charge for this equipment.)
I'm not exactly sure when my event will end. Can we leave the booking end time open?
It's best to pin down an end time. You will incur premium overtime charges if the musicians remain beyond the time stipulated in the contract.
I need continuous music without a break at my event.
If your event is one hour long, you're all set. We do not require that the musicians take a break on an hour's engagement. If the engagement is longer than one hour, we do not offer continuous music without a break. Like anyone else doing work requiring intensive concentration, musicians need to rest periodically or their ability to perform and concentrate may be compromised.
I have never even thought about what kind of ensemble or what music I would want at my event, and I have no idea where to start!
Don't worry. We've thought about it many times, for many people, and we're here to help! We'll happily work with you as much as you need us to, in bringing just the right ensemble and musical selections to your event. To get some ideas, we encourage you to check out our Ensembles page and our Ceremony Music Selector page.
My event is very soon. Is it too late to book musicians?
It's probably not too late. In an extreme case, we once provided a musician for a wedding with only eight hours' notice from the client. Often we can have a group ready for you with just a couple of days' advance notice. We can't guarantee short notice bookings, since we are very much subject to individual schedules, but we'll sure do our best to make it happen for you!
Once we've booked with you, should we meet in person to discuss the particulars of our event?
With all the meetings you probably have to schedule to make your event happen, you'll be glad to know that an in-person meeting with us is not necessary in order to cover details such as musical selections, cues during wedding ceremonies, and logistics. These and other issues are covered perfectly by telephone and email.
How do your musicians dress?
Our musicians are always professionally dressed; normally that means tuxedo and black bow tie for men, and black formal wear for women.
Do you attend wedding rehearsals?
We do not attend wedding rehearsals. Our musicians have played hundreds and hundreds of weddings; all we need to know is which parts of the ceremony you'd like us to play, and which selections we are to play. That'll give us everything we need to perform flawlessly for you just as if we had been at the previous day's rehearsal. If for some reason you really need us at your wedding rehearsal, we can attend for an additional fee.