Tag Archives: Elton John

2nd September 2017 – Wedding at Lauderdale House, Highgate, London – Piano Music for Ceremony and Drinks Reception

Piano Keyboard

Piano Keyboard

Yesterdays job was quite a lot different from the norm in that I could go by train, rather than drive. If I am playing the piano in London, as on this occasion, I usually opt for going by train if at all possible. I had tried to phone the groom previously to try and find out if the venue had a piano that I could use. I’d also left a message, but he hadn’t got back to me. So this meant that I had to take a digital piano with me on the train just in case it was needed. I do this by using a foldable sack trolley and placing the digital piano in a padded case and strapping it, together with a foldable keyboard stand, to the trolley. I have a small amplifier which is quite powerful (150 watt) which fits easily into a small rucksack. This rucksack easily holds this together with essential power supply units, cables, pedals and a small extension lead.

I managed to catch the 9:45am train from Lingfield and I eventually arrived at Lauderdale House in Waterlow Park, Highgate at 11:45am. On arrival the staff were surprised to see me arrive with a digital piano. There was a lovely Steinway grand piano In the room that I was going to be playing in and it was there for my use. I wasn’t going to be playing until 2:30pm, so I asked them if they could put my digital piano somewhere while I went into Highgate for something to eat. While I was in Highgate I just happened to have a chat with a lady who knew someone who had got married at Lauderdale House and she was telling me how expensive it is to hire as a venue. She also told me that they charge by the hour for the venue hire and then charge extra for nearly everything that you need including £5 for each chair that you use. If I had paid £5 for the use of a chair, I would want to take it home afterwards.

I returned at around 2:20pm and there were already a few people gathering in the ceremony room, so I started playing a few tunes. I played for around forty minutes and then the registrar announced the entrance of the bride. This was my cue to start playing “Little Dancer” by Elton John which had been requested by the groom. For the signing I played Elton John’s “Your Song” and “At Last” which were both my choice of music. Then for the recession I played “The Love Cats” by The Cure which is a piece that I have never been asked to play before, apparently it was a particular favourite of the bride’s.  Everyone then left the ceremony and stood outside in the sunshine for the drinks reception. They kept the ceremony room doors open so that I could carry on playing and the music could be easily heard outside. I then played throughout the drinks reception until Holly (the bride), James (the groom) and all the guests went into the room where they were going to have their wedding breakfast .

It was a really lovely wedding and I really enjoyed playing the lovely Steinway grand piano.


Contact details of Lauderdale House

Address: Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG
Telephone: 020 8348 8716
Email: enquiries@lauderdale.org.uk
Web: www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk/


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26th August 2017 – Wedding at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire – Piano Music for Evening Reception

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Yesterday’s event was a late one so I made the fatal mistake of setting off a bit later than usual. I had been booked as a pianist in Oxfordshire for a wedding reception. If you have read previous entries on my blog you will know that on Saturdays I like to set off early, so that I’ve got the bulk of the journey done by 9am. This usually ensures that I avoid most of the heavy traffic. Due to the fact that I was due at the venue at 6pm to set up, I decided to set off at around 11:45am. According to my Satnav I was due to be at the venue by 1:15pm, this would allow me plenty of time to have a good look around nearby Thame. The first ten miles was fine, but then I reached the motorway. From then on I spent most of my time in first and second gear or in neutral with the handbrake on. The arrival time on my Satnav got later and later. This traffic jam lasted all the way round the M25 until I left for the M40. By now my Satnav gave me an arrival time of 2:25 which was the exact time that I arrived at the venue.

I was still three and a half hours early so I drove down the road to Thame to kill a few hours there. I’ve played the piano at venues around Thame on many an occasion, but I’ve never actually had a look around the town. It is a lovely place, which is what you come to expect in Oxfordshire, and it has more than it’s fair share of historic buildings. It is an old fashioned market town and has managed to survive the modern age without being spoilt by too much modern development.

Having whiled away my afternoon, I decided to go back to the hotel. The venue is named Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, which is a bit of a mouth full if you come from Barnsley like me. It is a wonderful venue and is owned by the same company that owns the Orient Express. I’ve been to this venue once before and I do hope that I get the chance to perform here again. It is situated just a short walk from Great Milton, which is a really picturesque village. 

It had come time for me to set up all my equipment, so I went into the reception to find out exactly where I was supposed to go. I was greeted by an extremely friendly and helpful receptionist who took me over to the room where I was going to be setting up. She also introduced me to a very friendly co-ordinator who was in charge of the event that I was playing for. To be honest every single member of staff I met at this venue was extremely friendly and helpful, especially the barman who gave me a nice cold beer later in the evening.

The Greenhouse at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

The Greenhouse at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

I was due to start playing at 8pm and it was now around 6:10pm, so I should be all set up by around 7pm. I was going to set up the grand piano shell and it does take a while to put together, but it does look the part and there is a big demand for something that looks more like a piano than the normal digital keyboard. I got to work and I was tightening up the last bolt at around 7pm. I still had an hour to kill before I was due to start playing the piano, so I took a stroll into the village.

I came back an was ready to start, but the guests hadn’t yet come into the room where I was playing. I had been hired to play solo piano for the evening reception, so I was there instead of the usual disco or band. This sort of thing happens a lot these days, as a lot of people have realised that the most important thing at a wedding is that people are able to talk freely. A loud disco or band can often kill conversation.

It was a further half an hour before they came in and I started playing the piano as soon as the first person entered the room. The bride and groom had made a preference for jazz and swing, so I was in my element playing all the jazz standards from the 30s and 40s. It’s really nice to play for an event where I can the style of music I love, and just let my imagination take me where it wants to. There was a guy sat to my left and I couldn’t help notice that he would stop talking and his foot would start to tap every time I played a swing number, so I knew that I had got this guy on my side at least. The evening progressed and I had a ball, especially when quite a few of the guests started dancing. This developed and I started playing more modern numbers (but not too modern!) by the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John and The Beatles.

The evening went well and Sarah (the Bride) and Alex (the groom) definitely had a great time. It took me about 50 minutes to pack everthing up when I after I had finished at around 11:30pm. My drive home was a lot more pleasant than my journey to the venue and took me a lot lesss time.


Contact details of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Address: Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD, UK
Telephone: 01844 278 881
Email: manoir.mqs@belmond.com
Web: Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

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16th July 2017 – Wedding at the Tythe Barn, Bicester, Oxfordshire – Piano Music for Ceremony

Baby Grand Piano Shell

I arrived at the the Tythe Barn in Bicester, Oxfordshire at around 10:15pm after spending the night at the nearby Travelodge. The weather was overcast, but at least it was dry. I had to set up my grand piano shell, so dry weather really hepls. I found the woman in charge of the venue, who was exceptionally friendly and helpful. She showed me where to set up and I started the process of getting my gear out of the car.  It takes nearly an hour to unpack and set up the grand piano shell, so it is essential that I allow enough time for this. I was due to start playing at around 12:30 ready for the entrance of the bride at 1:00pm – so there was plenty of time.

It was a wedding blessing that I was playing for and both Juliette and Richard (the bride and groom) were keen pianists themselves. Their musical background meant that they wanted to make a substantial input into the choice of music that I was going to play. The following is a list of the music they chose:

Gathering of the Congregation

Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith
Wonderwall – Oasis
Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland
I Wish I Knew What it Was to be Free – Billy Taylor
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra
Time After Time – Ella Fitzgerald
Eternal Flame – The Bangles
Pink Panther (Theme From)
Your Song – Elton John
I Giorni – Einaudi

Entrance of the Bride – Clair De Lune by Debussy

Hymn 1 – Lord Of All Hopefulness
Hymn 2 – I Vow To Thee My Country
Hymn 3 – The Trees Of The Fields

Recession – Summertime – Gershwin

The ceremony went very well and everyone sang with great confidence went it came to the hymns. It wasn’t long before I was playing “Summertime” for the recession and the ceremony was over. After everyone had gone outside for the drinks reception I started to pack up my baby grand piano shell and all my other equipment.After packing the last piece of equipment into the car, I set off on my journey home.

It was my first visit to this lovely venue and I really hope that it won’t be the last. The staff were very amiable and the whole place had a really good feel to it.

Venue Contact Details:

Address: Tythe Barn, Charbridge Ln, Launton, Bicester OX26 4SR

Telephone: 01869 321442

Web: www.thetythebarn.co.uk

Email: info@thetythebarn.co.uk


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