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Velvet Ropes and Grand Pianos

I have said this many, many times before - but I seriously have the BEST. JOB. EVER. Being an event violinist gives me so much satisfaction, it's crazy.

Pretty violinist performs at a cemetery in Utah

The old adage "Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life" (Confucius - David Forman) has really hit home these last few months.

I've had a slew of gravesides services, wedding ceremonies, receptions, and even a couple dinners thrown in. Some of them have been a result of vendors recommending me from previous events, and one was a repeat client. I absolutely love when that happens! It's the highest compliment I can receive.

One special event that I will always remember was a graveside service (and the subsequent celebration of life) for a sweet woman named Carol. The moment I showed up at the graveside, I felt welcomed as a part of the family. Through the memories shared by loved ones that day, I felt like I had known Carol for years.

Her husband, Chris, was an instant favorite of mine and he will live on forever as one of my most conscientious and thoughtful clients.

After the graveside service was complete, he and I began discussing specifics for the upcoming celebration of life for Carol. He said that perhaps he should rent a baby grand piano for my pianist (Kayla Lundberg) so she didn't need to use the upright piano provided by the venue.

Jessica McAllister, violinist, poses in front of beautiful garden hedge

"Oh, I don't think she'll mind using the upright," I told him on the phone. "Kayla is remarkably flexible and she isn't picky in the slightest."

Chris felt as though he ought to rent one, anyhow, seeing as his late wife was a talented musician herself and he wanted to do right by her. So my dear friend (and favorite accompanist) was told to expect a baby grand. Cue the bated breath!

As the date for the event drew nearer, Chris provided a detailed map of the greenhouse and explained where Kayla and I would be set up for the evening.

I jokingly said, "Now, will it be roped off?"

"It can be," he quickly responded.

"No, I was just kidding," I laughed. "It certainly doesn't need to be roped off!"

Well, as you can probably guess, Kayla and I arrived at the event and there stood a GRAND piano (whatever happened to the baby?) alongside a beautiful flower arrangement roughly the size of my entire upper body. . . all safely sequestered behind a beautiful velvet rope.

Pianist stands in front of black grand piano in greenhouse event venue

Naturally, I had to request a password from anyone trying to cross the rope. What good is a roped-off section without a secret password?

This particular piano was previously from the Grand Ol Opry (if memory serves me well) - played by a whole long list of wonderfully famous people. It was acquired and rebuilt by Summerhays (which happens to be Carol's maiden name *wink wink*) and Kayla was the first person to play it after its new lease on life.

One of the lower keys was chipped from a performer hitting it with their foot, if that tells you anything about the stories this piano could spill. :)

Needless to say, Kayla was in heaven the whole night and wished she could fit the piano in her pocket to take home.

two women smile in front of flowers at event center in utah

The night went beautifully and our new-found videographer friend Robert Tanner was a joy to work with all evening.

Chris hired Robert for both the graveside and the celebration of life so that he could look back and listen to the music (and relive the special moments shared by the those present). After one of our pieces, I turned to Kayla and remarked that poor Robert was going to have 8,932 identical pictures of me playing the violin because there's only so much I can do to make the pictures look interesting. hahaha!

(I'll be sure to share some once I receive them, so don't worry!)

The night drew to a close and I was sent home with the MASSIVE flower arrangement and a collection of the best eclairs I have EVER tasted. I'm serious. I'm not usually an eclairs-type-of-person, but I would eat a dozen of those puppies in one sitting if given the chance.

Probably a good thing I only had 6.

Jessica McAllister stands by a large floral arrangement

the best tasting eclairs from event in utah

Oh, you guys. Just looking at the picture makes me remember how delicious they were!

Jessica McAllister, First String Violinist poses with pianist under a lighted arch in a Utah greenhouse venue

All in all, the night was a smashing success and I hope that Carol enjoyed it as much as we did. I only wish she was there to party with us!

Music can be there for us no matter what we're facing in life. It can lift us up and give us comfort and it can join us in our sorrows. It doesn't require anything of us... just a willingness to listen and let the music touch our hearts.

So, whether you're in the market for a violinist for one of life's highs or one of its inevitable lows, I hope you know you can count on me to provide the best possible musical experience I possibly can. Every single event is special to me and I will go out of my way to make it everything you've dreamed of.

I've been doing this for quite some time, and never ONCE have I heard someone say, "Golly. I really wish I didn't have live music at my [fill in the blank] tonight. That was totally not worth it."

I realize I probably sound rather self-serving here, but there's something magical about the sound of a solo violin floating through the room (or on the breeze). You could almost say "haunting"... but in a soothing way, not an exorcist kind of way. Important clarification, there. :)

But regardless of the type of music you decide is best for your event, I hope you know how much it means to the musician. Sharing our passion is what drives us to do what we do.

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