Harpist Janet King: Harp at your wedding
Most of my wedding work entails playing for the wedding ceremony, the cocktail hour, or both. I play in every kind of setting: churches, Jewish centers, nearly every catering hall on Long Island, outdoor gardens, tented backyards, on the beach, on boats, by the Montauk Lighthouse!
If you are not planning on having dance music with a band or DJ, but rather want a longer more elegant affair, you can book me for continuous music, up to four hours, sometimes longer.
I also play at engagement parties, baby showers, corporate events, fundraisers, holiday parties, you name it. Christmas music on the harp is truly magical!
Are you a non-profit with a good humanitarian cause? Please call me when planning a special event; I'd love to help.
The majority of my bookings is for the harp alone. Virtually all of the music that I play can be done on the harp alone: certainly all the traditional wedding music works well on just the harp.
A growing percentage of my bookings are for the harp together with other musicians, in a chamber ensemble. I LOVE playing in ensemble!! Mostly because the musicians with whom I work are great artists and good friends, so that we bring good vibes along with good music to your wedding. We'll also bring reverence for the wedding moment, and a spirit of creative fun.
I feature a harp/flute/cello trio, which can be heard at the sound samples here. Duos are also available (harp/cello, harp/flute, etc), as are quartets and larger ensembles. Classical trumpet is also available, especially for the ceremony; and violin too.
For a ceremony, adding voice is a good choice, especially if you want to imbue a more religious flavor to a ceremony being held outside of a religious setting. A beautiful song really helps make a ceremony into a sacred event, and I can recommend a number of wonderful, appropriate songs. I have several vocalists available, each with a different sound, including male and female voices. Most are willing to sing for you over the phone so you can hear how they sound. Also listen to the sound samples.
Booking a chamber ensemble is easy. I set the whole thing up, book the other musicians (ie, handle all the money and paperwork for everyone from my office), and act as the music director, so that you need only talk with me about the music, and then I take your instructions to the group and direct it to play what, when, and how you want.
Playing with your musicians
If you have a musician friend or family member whom you'd like to include in the music for your wedding, I'm game to play with them too. If they are a vocalist or instrumentalist, I can accompany them. My only requirement is that they be comfortable performing. I don't care so much whether or not they are "great musicians" (if you don't care!) so long as they are cool under the pressure of performing at your wedding. If there is any question about that, you might be jeopardizing your own cool on your wedding day!
However, if they are up to it, I heartily encourage you to include special people in the music for your wedding. It can be very meaningful and poignant.
Generally, a quick run-through the music immediately before the event is adequate (and with competent musicians, if we're playing familiar music, even that isn't really necessary). However, if an additional meeting to rehearse is necessary, there will an additional charge. (If a lot of rehearsing seems necessary, it's a sign that maybe this is not such a good idea.)
I'll also play with your church's musicians if you want, and if they are willing.
For cocktail hours and larger parties, amplification is available, so the harp is always loud enough and able to be heard. There is no additional charge for amplification.
OTHER KINDS OF HARP
When you book me, I bring my big, beautiful classical harp, as you see in these photos. It's ornately hand-carved, with gold paint on an expanded soundboard, and I've owned it for decades (we're like an old married couple together!). However, I have other harps available...
STROLLING HARP: You've never seen anything like this before. I've never seen anything like this before!! I have a very small harp with a very big, beautiful sound, that I strap on like a guitar and play strolling. It's the coolest! See photos at my photos page here. Strolling harp is a great idea for large, sprawling parties, especially for outdoor cocktail hours; for wedding ceremonies on a remote beach or a boat, settings where I won't bring my big harp; and also for hospitality hours preceding a wedding ceremony, where sometimes it's impractical to move the large classical harp from one room to the next. (Generally, moving the harp from one room to another is not difficult, but occasionally, under certain circumstances, moving the harp is too cumbersome to do quickly.) I am limited to playing only certain kinds of music on the strolling harp, so it's not the best substitute for the big harp where specific music selection matters. But it's very fun!
FOLK HARP: I also have a beautiful folk harp available. This harp, while much larger than the strolling harp, is smaller than the classical harp. Visually it looks much more "folk" – it's four feet tall, a simpler design, with a rustic, dark walnut wood finish. It sounds no less beautiful, though, believe it or not. I am limited musically on this harp, although not as much as I am on the strolling harp. This harp is a good option for ceremonies on the beach or other unusual, awkward places (boats); or for a more specifically Celtic flavor.
COSTUMES: I have some Renaissance-styled costumes, purchased from a high-end clothier at the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, New York. If the usual black-formal attire isn't dramatic enough for you, go for the costumed harpist! See one example of Renaissance garb at the Photos page. I have many colors available.
I play all the traditional wedding music, such as
•The Bridal Chorus, aka "Here Comes the Bride"
•Pachelbel's Canon in D
•The Wedding March
•Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
•the Lord's Prayer
•the Wedding Song ("There is Love")
•the Irish Wedding Song
•One Hand, One Heart
I also play the following styles of music:
•Broadway (eg, Phantom of the Opera)
•religious, of various traditions
•Christmas (very magical!)
•Jewish traditional (eg, Erev Shel Shoshanim)
•"Happy Birthday," "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," "Stairway to Heaven" for the guys! and other special and oddball requests
•my own special style of improv, which is very popular!
I don't have a more specific list of selections, because it wouldn't mean much to read titles of music you've probably never heard of. My repertoire is enormous: I could probably sit and play for ten hours or more without repeating anything, if I didn't get too tired.
If you want to be involved in music selection, we consult together for no additional fee. You can request whatever you want: I have an excellent track record for honoring requests. I'll be happy to learn new music for you, at no additional fee. If you don't know what to ask for, but you know what you like when you hear it, I'll play different things for you (often in a simple phone consultation, where I play for you over the phone, by appointment) and together we'll find what you like. If you don't have anything specific in mind, you can leave selection up to me.
I'm here to be helpful. I can help you select music. I can speak directly with your church's music director, if need be. I can handle pesky catering hall demands for liability insurance. And I enjoy helping you with suggestions and referrals for other aspects of your wedding plans. Ask me who my favorite wedding band is! Catch me at the right moment, and I'll enjoy brainstorming with you about where to have the party, if you haven't booked a caterer yet.
My experience and professionalism mean that things are virtually guaranteed to go smoothly and easily, just the way you want it. I'm familiar with nearly every catering hall on Long Island; I'm familiar with the Catholic Mass and many other kinds of services; so you're assured that questions will be easily resolved and there'll be no problem. And I'm always willing to go the extra mile to make sure you're confident that I'll do a great job for you.
Because my calendar fills up, I also provide the services of other excellent harpists for dates when I am not personally available. The fee is the same whether it's me or someone else, and all of my harpists are excellent musicians, very professional, and easy to deal with personally. You don't need to take my word for it – you're welcome to check them out for yourself before booking them.
I am always very clear with you about whether you are booking me or someone else. Don't worry, I don't send subs for myself unless something extraordinary comes up for me personally, and then I always talk with you about it first, if humanly possible.
It's first come, first served. My calendar tends to fill up early. I often book dates over a year in advance. But I can also often accommodate dates that are coming up very soon.
I travel all over the tri-state area with the harp, and I will go from Queens out to the distant exits of the Long Island Expressway without charging a travel fee.
2. Fee quotes
Just ask. My fee structure is simple and all-inclusive. There are never any hidden surprises or unforeseen charges, not if I can help it.
3. To hear me
To hear me, click on the sound samples here at the website!
If you'd like to hear me in person, come to one of my occasional bridal showcases. My showcase schedule is also here at this website. ...I used to showcase more frequently, but these days it's hard to find a good showcase.
If you wish, I'll also play for you over the phone. Either catch me at an opportune moment, or we'll make an appointment to do so.
Harpist Janet King
Office hours are
Monday through Friday, 9am to 9pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 8pm.
(This is a home office – please wait until office hours to call!)
•for a rate quote
•to check my availability for your date
•to hear a live, over-the-phone demo!
•with other questions
•to book me
Generally, talking on the phone is better than emailing, if you really want to explore having me play at your wedding. If you email me, we may miss some details, but if we can talk we can really cover everything.
5. To book me
To book me, there are three steps:
1. First, call me and tell me so. As soon as you tell me you want to book me, you go in my calendar, in ink, and I hold your date for you.
2. Send me a deposit, to secure the date. Generally this means putting a personal check in the mail. It's good to have a paper trail at this stage.
3. After I've received your deposit, I mail back to you a confirmation notice which has everything in writing along with my signature. I don't have a contract for you to sign and send back to me – I'm not quite so formal – but you'll have solid documentation for your records.
My own harp is over 30 years old, and as a used harp I don't know how much it is worth. It is certainly worth plenty in sentimental value!! I've played/owned this one for almost all of its life.
However, if you bought this same model new, today, you'd pay over $22,000.
THE HARP HAS PEDALS!? WHAT ARE THEY FOR?
Yep, the harp has seven pedals. They are very different in function from the pedals on a piano.
The seven pedals correspond to the seven notes in the musical alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Each pedal has three positions. When the A pedal is all the way up, all the A strings sound as A-flat. Move the pedal into the middle position, and all the A strings sound as A natural. Put the A pedal down all the way and all the A strings sound as A-sharp. Same goes for moving any of the other pedals: it makes the corresponding strings all sound flat, natural, or sharp. I move my feet and make changes while I'm playing with my hands all the time. Sort of like driving a stick shift car.
WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENT COLORED STRINGS? ARE ALL HARPS LIKE THAT?
The different colors are basically landmarks so that we harpists know where we are. All the C strings are red; all the dark strings (blue, purple, black...) are F. The rest are white (or white-ish).
Virtually all harps nowadays have this same color scheme, although historically it wasn't always so.
CAN YOU PLAY "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN?"
C'mon, guys, I get this all the time!! Yeah, I can play it.
DON'T YOU WISH YOU PLAYED THE FLUTE, WHEN YOU MOVE THAT BIG HARP AROUND?
But I wouldn't have been invited to play so many weddings with only a flute!
HOW DO YOU GET IT AROUND? AND WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?
I have a good system, and LOTS of practice! I have a hand truck that makes moving the harp easy. I used to drive a Ford Taurus station wagon; now I have a Toyota Matrix, and I'm still amazed that the harp fits in the Matrix. The harp lies flat on a baby mattress in the back, and slides right in. No, it doesn't come apart for transport – heaven forbid!
IS IT HARD TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY?
That varies from student to student, but it is easy for everyone to make a beautiful sound on the harp. You just brush your hand across the strings and it sound beautiful. Try it!
now that you've booked me: the "small print," selecting music, spelling of music for your program - March 23, 2006
A deposit is necessary to reserved the date and time, and is non-refundable. Partial cancellations may result in a partial forfeiture of the deposit. In actual practice, I often do return deposits for cancelled plans when given enough advance notice; your best bet is to telephone me immediately (don't write, don't email, don't stand on ceremony) in the event of a change of plans. This agreement is for the date and time indicated only. Even slight adjustments in time must be approved, contingent upon availability. Please check with me first before changing your plans! Overtime can be arranged, depending on availability, but terms must be agreed to before any overtime is played.
In the event that (due to unforeseen circumstances) I am unable to keep our agreement, it is my commitment to provide you with another qualified harpist if at all possible, or to otherwise assist you in making compensatory arrangements.
Playing conditions must be suitable for the harp and harpist (especially outdoors). PLEASE: NO BUBBLES!!
Please call me one week prior to the event to reconfirm.
Contact me immediately if the above information is incorrect or incomplete. My hours are: Monday through Friday, 9am to 9pm; and weekends, 10am to 8pm. Feel free to call me then with any questions or concerns.
Please inform me of any changes; I like to be updated about new addresses and telephone numbers.
2. Music selection
a. How to select music
While I am very open to any request you may have, I recommend that you NOT research music by listening to CDs and commercial recordings (and especially, don't bother reading lists of music out of bridal magazines, when you don't even know what any of it sounds like!). Commercial recordings do not even begin to scratch the surface of my enormous repertoire, and even if they did, they would not represent how it sounds when I play it.
If you want to make selections for your wedding, the best way to start is by calling me and talking to me. Even if you're not sure what you want, we can usually figure it out by talking and listening to the harp in an interactive way. It'll save you a lot of time and confusion, believe me.
If you don't have strong feelings about specific music selection (other than simply wanting me there with my harp!), you can leave selection up to me. I'm fine with that.
If you are getting married in church, let the church's music director tell you what they require and define where in the ceremony music belongs; and then you and I can fill in those blanks.
b. Spelling of music titles and composers for your program
Here is a list of the most typical ceremony music, with the proper spelling of titles and composers, if you are doing a program. It's not necessary to list the composer; if you do, it is acceptable just to put the last name.
•The Bridal Chorus, by Richard Wagner
•Canon in D, by Johannes Pachelbel
•The Wedding March, by Felix Mendelssohn
•Ave Maria, by Franz Schubert (or the "other" Ave Maria, by Bach-Gounod)
•Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, by J.S. Bach
•the Lord's Prayer, by A. Malotte
•the Wedding Song ("There is Love"), by Paul Stuckey
•the Irish Wedding Song, traditional (I think!...)
•One Hand, One Heart, by Leonard Bernstein