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Places I've Played - Opryland Hotel Atrium

During my early years in the wedding music business, I performed at a wedding ceremony in the atrium at the Opryland Hotel.

Usually, for most weddings, it's considered normal and usual to have a rehearsal the day/evening before the wedding at the place where the wedding will take place, like your typical church.

This was different. I had a young man and woman getting married, who were both brass instrument players (he played trumpet, she played french hom).

Usually I either bring a demo or have the couple come to my house and I demonstrate what kinds of instrument sounds that they can have for their wedding ceremony. I showed them what standard wedding music sounds like as played on an organ, or a grand piano, or as a string ensemble, or in this case, a brass band. The option of a brass band got their attention.

However, since the couple decided to have their wedding at the Opryland Hotel atrium, there was going to be no "reheasal before the wedding". All of this was going to go live and unscripted to a point. The wedding party, the priest, and I were given a set of basic instructions as to how we were going to run the ceremony, but in my case it was going to be totally "sight unseen", or rather, a total surprise.

I had most of the music arranged ahead of time and I got down to the Opryland Hotel with about four hours to spare, as I had to get my keyboards set up AND coordinate that with the Opryland Hotel staff. Even though I knew "where" I was playing, I had to wait for FIVE technicians to be available to help set up AND I had to use THEIR sound system (the PA). What would typically take me only about 20 minutes to set up took these guys a bit longer, mostly only because they had their own setup calibrated to the accoustics and the decibel level that they required. (It IS a hotel, you know, I couldn't blast out across the open space surrounded by guest rooms...)

I got along fine, even though they weren't exactly understanding what I was doing. I was taking synthesizers and replicating a brass band ensemble. That went over their heads. They just saw the keyboards and thought I was going to do some organ or piano thing.

After a few minutes of explaining what I do, they got their sound systems all set up and turned on. They had to have ONE technician standing around to monitor their equipment, but he just mostly stood around and watched his meters on his console.

Just before the ceremony, I played some simple, rather reserved, classical music and preludes as the guests were coming into that part of the atrium. All was going good.

At the beginning of the ceremony, I kicked into the Wedding March, but with brass sounds (trumpets, trombones, horns) ablazing. Since it was a BIT louder than the earlier music and all in brass, it surprised the tech, he jumped and ran over to his console to bring the volume level to where he thought it should be. I wasn't surprised or annoyed, again, he was probably keeping things under control and with a volume level that, although allowing the ceremony to proceed, it also kept it so that most of the guests in the exposed guest rooms facing the atrium weren't blasted out.

Nearby onlookers walking through the atrium were all looking towards the wedding ceremony and stood by during the entire thing. After all was done and I performed the Bridal Chorus (still in brass) on their way out, I got some great comments and was able to pass out quite a few business cards in the process. The big comment I got was that "I didn't know you could sound like trumpets!".

All good. I'm all prepared to do the same thing again, and I'd be happy to do another open venue like that. Just maybe without a tech standing by...

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