An Interview With A Strings Duo

An Interview With A Strings Duo

This professional pair call themselves “Chapel Hill” and together they make up a string duo sensation! Playing the cello and violin since they were both very young, Jaya and Sarah originally started their professional musical careers playing in a string quartet having met at Music Conservatoire in 2011. Over time, four became two in a musical sense, then also romantically when they became a couple! Chapel Hill was formed, and it wasn’t long before duo evolved when the realisation occured that there was so much flexibility and fun to be had as a pair. Rehearsals became easier to organise and a whole world of opportunity seemed to open up. Jaya says of becoming duo, “We were pleasantly surprised at how much we could do with just two instruments! Now we play as full time professionals and the variety of music we play has no limits!”

The committed duo work tirelessly to keep their repertoire current and continually renewing. Their set-list can be found to range from classical pieces such as Handel’s ‘Arrival of The Queen of Sheba’, through to pop covers like ‘Royals’ by Lorde and Ed Sheeran’s‘ Shape of You’. “We pride ourselves on having a go at any style of music but most of the time we play a mixture of pop covers and film music, (we love Disney!). We are always working on new music and are happy to learn new songs for our clients,” enthuses Sarah.

The duo have a long, varied list of songs for clients to choose from and if there's a song requested that they haven’t yet got in their repertoire, they will not hesitate to learn it for the occasion. Sarah describes, “For weddings especially, we think it's very important to work closely with our clients to help them choose the perfect music to enhance their day. We have never turned down a request!”

While the majority of functions Chapel Hill play are weddings, these accomplished musicians are very used to featuring at a large variety of events including birthday parties, Christmas parties, dinner parties, corporate events, concerts, conferences and educational workshops. This experience has taken them to hundreds of different types of venues all over the country giving them the flexibility to perform in nearly any space, from grand hotels to private back gardens. When asked about their favourite type of venue Sarah muses; “We do enjoy visiting older venues (castles especially) as we are always interested in the history of the place.”

Chapel Hill remain one of the only full time professional violin and cello duos in the country, with very few rivalling their unique sound and electrifying dynamic. Highly trained musicians, their daily lives are dedicated to practicing and preparing music for each event that they play, with the goal to entertain and enhance the atmosphere of every bespoke occasion, “...there's a certain entertainment factor that you just can't replicate with a “CD player” and live musicians will always be able to adjust to the atmosphere and events of the day” says Jaya. 

He shares a story explaining how the flexibility of live music can really be a lifesaver for an event, “We were playing a bride down the aisle...she had even planned and practiced the timings of the song so that her entrance would be the highlight of the bridal party walk...however, on the day the flower girl got stage fright and took a long time to pluck up the courage to walk down the aisle. Because we knew the bride’s plan we were able to adjust the music so that when she was ready, we started the chorus for her. If it had been a recording she would've missed her big moment.” It’s true. No playlist waits for nerves, fills in the awkward silences or boost a lull in the atmosphere. What we love about this duo is that they can really read the crowd and totally know what is needed to lift spirits, soften the mood or change the ambience appropriately.

Way beyond a bit of background music, Chapel Hill are a standout act, producing the same full sound as a string quartet despite only requiring half the space! Being in high demand they continue to tour all over the country, playing their ever-growing unique song list that covers a vast range of styles and genres. Flexible with set lengths and able to amplify or play acoustically, these two professionals play comfortably to a large audience or are happy fitting into smaller, more intimate events.

Here at Toast Functions we are proud to recommend this fabulous pair who treat every event with care and attention, and truly love what they do. “We can honestly say that every engagement we've ever played at has been a highlight for us, especially weddings. No two weddings are the same and as well as getting to visit some incredible venues we will never tire of playing a bride down the aisle to her favourite song.”

For more information and to enquire about booking Chapel Hill drop us a line at:

Posted 08 February 2018 by Nathan Evans

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