Sunday, March 14, 2010

Get to Know Hana!

So Hana and I met way back in high school playing in the Peabody Preparatory Sinfonia together. Hana started a company called "Ceremony String Players" back then and we played a ton of weddings all over maryland when we were just kids! Years later, Rebecca and I started Hill Chamber Music and as soon as Hana moved back to Baltimore, we snatched her up, and she's been playing with us ever since. We always have such a great time when we play with Hana, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better!

Q. What inspired you to become a musician?
A. I think I knew early on that I wanted to become a musician. However,
I remember seeing the young, glamorous violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama
play when I was in grade school, and I remember thinking then that I
wanted to be "just like her."

Q. What brought you to Baltimore, and what about Baltimore has made you
remain after school?

A. As I am originally from Annapolis, a large part of my family lives in
the Baltimore/D.C. area. Thus, I naturally gravitated back towards
Baltimore upon graduation from Rice University; I Ioved parts of
Houston (and the Tex-Mex food!), but I definitely missed my family and
being on the east coast. I also moved back in order to study the
viola privately with my amazing mentor, a professor at Peabody.

Q. What is the best part about playing for weddings?
A. Seeing that look of elation and relief on the couple's face as they
walk away during the recessional.

Q. What is your favorite moment from an HCM gig?

A. In a wedding last fall, each member of the bridal party recounted a
special memory that he or she had of the couple. It made for some
really personal, touching moments in the ceremony.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to in your down time?
A. I don't know if I should admit this or not, but I don't listen to much
classical musical in my "down time!" You'd find a mix of artists on
my Ipod, including Nickel Creek, Radiohead, Carbon Leaf, Cake, Sufjan
Stevens, and maybe even a little Lady Gaga.

Q. What do you do with yourself when you aren't playing your instrument?
A. I love to cook for friends and family, as well as to hold potlucks and
BBQs in my home. You might also find me at Charm City Yoga or running
along the downtown waterfront path.

Q. What is the best part about living in Baltimore?
A. I love the many unique neighborhoods in the city, from homey Canton to
artsy Mt. Vernon to eclectic Hampden, as well as the pleothora of
great, affordable places to eat. And I definitely cannot complain
about living two blocks from the water!

Q. What is your favorite piece to play during ceremonies?
A. I love it when brides request Beatles tunes during the ceremony -
they're so much fun to play! However, for parties and cocktail hours,
I LOVE playing our collection of tangos!

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a bride, what would it be?
A. Don't be afraid to pick music that's important to you and your fiance,
even it it might seem a little unconventional! We've played some
really awesome recessionals with unusual selections like Journey's
"Don't Stop Believing," and guests always appreciate those unique

Q. What do you do in your spare time?
A. Well, these recent blizzards have definitely given me some extra time
to catch up on favorite shows like Project Runway and Curb Your
Enthusiasm. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get to know Hollis!

Hello everyone! Hollis is one of the fantastic violinists that work with us at HCM. Becky and I met her through the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra Bridges Program about 3 years ago, and she has been playing with us ever since. A fantastic and diverse musician, we always have a fabulous time with her, and we hope you enjoy her Q&A!

Q. What inspired you to become a musician?

A. Growing up, I always loved the different aspects of being a musician, from practicing to performing. I also loved the camaraderie and friendships that developed from being around people who shared my passion for music. After taking several music classes in college, I decided to pursue degrees in it (B.M. Converse College, M.M. Peabody) and have music as my career.

Q. What brought you to Baltimore, and what about Baltimore has made you remain after school?

A. I came to Baltimore to attend Peabody for my master's degree. By graduation, I realized how much I loved the city, and decided to stay. The people here are wonderful, and I found it very easy to "put down roots" here. In addition, there are so many opportunities for musicians here, and the city is very supportive of the arts.

Q. What is the best part about playing for weddings?

A. I love looking at the fashion! Everyone always looks so beautiful, and every wedding is different and special with its own style. It's really a treat to see. And of course, it feels wonderful to play my own part in making the ceremony special through music.

Q. What is your favorite moment from an HCM gig?

A. Rebecca, Anna, Kate and I were playing for a large, busy reception. A little girl wearing a cute, fluffy dress emerged out of the crowd and just stood watching us for such a long time. She was absolutely fascinated by the instruments and music! It was really adorable, and I was touched to see someone getting so much pleasure from our music.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to in your down time?

A. I listen to some of everything, but recently I've been enjoying a lot of world music, particularly Middle-Eastern and Irish. I also love Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Q. What do you do with yourself when you aren't playing your instrument?

A. When I'm not playing my violin, I'm usually writing music. When I'm not doing that, I love going to the gym, cooking and reading.

Q. What is the best part about living in Baltimore?

A. I like that it's made up so many little communities, each with their own vibe and style. Though different, they're each charming; it is Charm City after all, right?

Q. What is your favorite piece to play during ceremonies?

A. It's hard to pick just one, but I would have to go with 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.' It's so elegant and romantic!

Q. What type of music do you love to play?

A. Again, there are so many different types I love. Tangos might be at the top of the list though; they have so much class and flair.

Q. What is the greatest thing about being a musician?

A. The greatest thing is that there's always something new every day. No rehearsal, performance, or event is ever the same twice. That makes life very interesting, and usually in a good way!

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a bride, what would it be?

A. Listen to how wonderful our Hill Chamber Music ensemble sounds. :) Ok, well, you should, but really I would say to just enjoy your day. Make the most out of every moment, because the day really does fly by. If you can just savor it, then you'll have a store of wonderful memories to look back on for the rest of your life.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. I love spending time with my husband. We like to go to the city to visit museums and favorite pubs, and we also like to go hiking whenever we get the chance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HCM's Anna Harris in the News

HCM's Anna Harris was the feature of an article in the Hagerstown Hearld Mail this month. Anna has joined the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's administrative staff as the Operations Manager and Education Coordinator. The MSO is a professional orchestra in Western Maryland which HCM musicians perform with regularly. Anna will be responsible for overseeing all rehearsal and performance schedules, venue rentals, musician's contracts, guest artist travel and itineraries, production budgets and vendor contracts. She will also plan and coordinate all of the MSO's extensive educational programs and activities. On top of all that, Anna will continue to be cellist for HCM performing regularly at HCM events. Congrats to Anna, and don't forget to check out her article which features a blurb on HCM!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Intimate to Grandiose ~ HCM's January Events

HCM started off 2010 with a lovely wedding at one of our favorite venues, the charming Elkridge Furnace Inn. Barb Eaton and Dave Centineo tied the knot on January 1, 2010 in an intimate ceremony under the tent. A former music major, Barb had a fantastic music lineup, ranging from Debussy, Haydn, Bach and Delibes. Barb and Dave sent us this fantastic note after the wedding!

~We wanted to thank you for the pleasure of having Hill Chamber Music play at our wedding ceremony on New Years Day! You brought joy to our day, happiness to our hearts, and warmth to our lives with your music. I can't begin to tell you how many rave reviews we received after the ceremony! I also wanted to personally thank you for being so accommodating on such a short time frame and all your fabulous guidance and support. I would have lost my head without you! Thank you for being a part of our future together!

January 2 was Beatles Day for HCM! Chris Prater and Deann Gavney were married at The Villa, and this fun couple had us perform an all Beatles postlude for their receiving line. The trio had a blast as Chris and Deann's guests danced down the line to the likes of "Yellow Submarine" and "When I'm 64"! January 2 also saw HCM at the nuptials for Molly Legg and Tucker Meneely at the beautiful Marikle Chapel. Molly and Tucker had an all Beatles Wedding, processing in to "In My Life" and "Real Love" and then recessing out to "All You Need Is Love".

HCM next headed over to Cassie Smoot and Mark Menikheim's wedding on January 9th at the fabulous Engineers Club. A long standing favorite venue for us, we were thrilled to get to work with site coordinator Asha Hislop again. Asha is FABULOUS, and for anyone looking for a site and coordinator, these are two that top our list.

January 10th saw HCM at Valerie Lagrome's wedding at the Sheraton. We loved the colorful origami butterflies and flowers that Valerie selected, creating a personal and charming theme to this event! That evening, HCM was honored to be a part of the intimate vows exchanged between Shannon Dochney and Chris LaRoche at Chase Court. This nine guest event didn't leave a dry eye in the house, as the emotional moment between Shannon and Chris was palpable. This lovely couple took the time to come talk to us and thank us for their special song, "Lucky" which has become a new favorite for the HCM musicians.

January 16th was another busy day for HCM. Susan McClure and Keith Sullivan tied the knot at another HCM favorite, the Belvedere. Susan added true class to her event with a wonderful solo vocalist performing "The Lord's Prayer" with our trio. That same evening, Ashley Reeder and Christopher Therkildsen had the HCM quartet perform for their ceremony and cocktail hour at the gorgeous George Peabody Library. This event was styled by the very talented Stephanie Bradshaw. We were truly amazed by Stephanie's work, from the backdrops, to the flowers, to the bridal party couture ~ the effect was glorious! Michael Clark Photographers took some amazing pictures of this event, which we will post as soon as they are ready. This will certainly be an event to inspire future brides!

Next up, HCM has a private concert at Roland Park Place on January 20th. We are looking forward to performing for the residents there! If you are interested in meeting HCM members in person and hearing some music, stop by the open house at the Cloisters Castle on January 30th from 11:00-4:00. We will be handing out information and CD samples as well as answering questions and giving live demos.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Few Favorites from 2009

We have had a busy fall season and end to 2009 over here at Hill Chamber Music. The musicians have been jetting around Maryland and the DC area, performing at our favorite sites as well as some memorable new venues. We finished up 2009 with two events on New Year's Eve, the first at the gorgeous Gramercy Mansion and then a wonderful evening wedding and cocktail hour overlooking the harbor at the Marriott Waterfront. The view of the New Year's Eve fireworks was ideal from this amazing wedding location! We have had such a wonderful time working with all of our 2009 couples and wanted to share a few thoughtful notes we have received and some favorite memories captured in photos. Thank you for a great 2009!

Shane and Jess Ardo sent us this lovely note after their fabulous September wedding at Gertrude's, one of our favorite wedding venues!

~ Thank you so much for playing so beautifully at our wedding last weekend. You and the other musicians did a fantastic job - it was just what we wanted!

Lori and Eric Lee sent us a beautiful note personalized with gorgeous calligraphy after their October event at the Towson Golf and Country Club.

~ Eric and I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the three of you for performing at our wedding ceremony. You all are extremely talented and we are so thankful you were able to share your talents with us and all of our guests. Thank you for the beautiful arrangements you put together for the prelude and I absolutely adored my entrance to Canon - what I've always wanted! Thank you again for being a part of our ceremony.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Q&A with me! (Anna)

Hello there! So today, I interviewed myself. Not much else to say, I've known myself for the almost 25 years now, and it's been great!

Q. What inspired you to become a musician?

A. Both of my parents were professional musicians at one point, and when I started playing at 10 years old, I really wanted to play the violin. But alas, my mother told me, "No! It is too high and squeaky and I don't want to listen to you practice that thing! You can play the cello...." It turned out to be a pretty good idea. My first teacher was amazing, and really taught me how to love music. She would get so excited, and run around the room conducting and waving her arms around. It was so inspiring as a kid to see how someone could be so passionate about music! She definitely passed that on to me, and now I carry that through into everything I do.

Q. What is your favorite part about playing for weddings?

I love seeing the personal touches every couple brings to their ceremony and reception, whether its the decorations, their vows, the readings. Thats what weddings are about after all, the couple and what is special to them.

Q. What is your favorite type of music to listen to on your down time?

I'm in love with Lady Gaga right now. Her music is so much fun! Beyond her, there's a lot of different artists like Feist, Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Ingrid Michaelson, Alexi Murdoch etc etc etc.....

Q. What do you do with yourself when you aren't playing your instrument?

I make jewelry, stationary, clothes, cook, garden, etc. I am always bursting with ideas, so any chance I get to be creative, I take it! I also go and visit my adorable nephew (pictured above at just 3 weeks old!) any chance I get. At 13 months, and first baby in the family, every little thing he does is just the cutest thing I've ever seen. And who knows...with his amazing harmonica skills, he might be the next HCM musician added to the roster, harmonica prelude anyone?

Q. What is your favorite part about living in Baltimore?

A. I love the people and the character of Baltimore. This city is not like any other, and there is so much charm and character - not to mention crabs, natty boh and utz potato chips! Which reminds me of my favorite billboard, which also happens to be wedding related - the one on Charles St, just north of Penn Station with the Natty Boh guy proposing to the Utz girl. Its the best!

Q. What is your favorite piece to play during ceremonies?

I love French impressionistic music, like Debussy's Claire de Lune, and the Flower Song from Lakme. They are so ethereal and romantic - perfect for weddings in my opinion.

Q. What type of music do you love to play?

I actually have a huge passion for contemporary music. I've premiered tons of pieces over the years and love introducing completely new music to audiences and seeing their reactions, its a great rush.

Q. What is the greatest thing about being a musician?

Being able to express myself through my music and sharing that with an audience.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a bride, what would it be?

Have fun with your music! Choose music that is special and important to you and your groom, this your day and everything about it should be personal!

Q. What was your favorite wedding?

My sisters! It was held at the Cloisters, and it was the most perfect evening ever.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Beautiful Garden Wedding

This weekend, we had the wonderful pleasure to play for the Cylc wedding at the Naval Academy Alumni House in Annapolis, MD. I've always loved Annapolis - the adorable old houses, brick streets and small town feel , this was the perfect location for this beautiful little garden party wedding. We played for the cocktail hour inside the alumni house, which was decorated beautifully and the food looked amazing! We had a few guests request some selections from West Side Story, which is one our favorite pieces to play, and we always love to interact with guests and play music they love. We snapped a few pictures of the beautiful table layouts, and a few shots of the Quartet playing, which you can see below. Thanks to Chelsey and Jessica for joining us today, we always have such a fun time playing with these two girls.