Laurel Thomsen - Solo Violin, Duos, Trios, Quartets

Based in Bonny doon CA

Since 1998, violinist/violist Laurel Thomsen and her colleagues have provided sweet, soulful, and sassy music for private and public events and venues, including weddings, cocktail hours and receptions, memorials, marriage proposals, art galleries, parties, corporate events, restaurant events, and house concerts.

Laurel's repertoire features diverse genres and can be performed on solo violin or with an ensemble featuring various instrumentation, including her violin-guitar duo, violin-guitar-doublebass trio, violin-cello duo, string trio or quartet, and ensembles including vocalists. We look forward to helping make your event a success!

"Laurel Thomsen was an essential part of our wedding celebration. She was a pleasure to work with from beginning to end and really went out of her way to make sure that her music fit with our overall vision, including arranging an accompanying musician. She is so talented and all of our guests were amazed that we had someone of her caliber providing music for our wedding. We were truly lucky to have her and would recommend her for any wedding, or party for that matter - from a small garden get-together to a formal gala!" -Lauren and Eli, Bride and Groom

Laurel prides herself in selecting music to fit the atmosphere of an event, moment to moment. But beyond the playlist and the performance are other elements that help make hosting live music a success. Performing professionally since she was a teenager, Laurel creates a focal point of not only beautiful music, but of professionalism and poise, marrying her decades of performance experience with her sweet, intuitive, and accommodating personality. Clients and promoters can rest assured that they are in good hands.

Choosing Solo Violin or an Ensemble Type:
It’s nice to have options! When deciding upon the instrumentation of a new song or piece, songwriters and composers consider the style of the music they’re writing, the inherent sound of each instrument, and the roles each instrument typically plays within an ensemble as well as the playability of the part on a given instrument. Along with considerations like venue and guest list size, budget, length of the event, and whether or not the group will be acoustic or amplified, it’s helpful to think like a composer when booking a musical act. A violinist can perform solo or be accompanied by a range of instruments, however, not all songs will sound as rich or convincing with every type of ensemble.

- Solo Violin: Solo violin is an elegant and intimate choice best suited for small to medium sized venues and events (50 people or less), unless amplified. Solo violin shines with playlists emphasizing Classical, Celtic/Folk, and sometimes Jazz, Latin, and contemporary music as long as the songs contain strong melodies that are memorable even when heard independently of the original lyrics and without any accompaniment. Solo violin creates a dynamic focal point and is poised to gracefully flow with the mood and needs of an event. However, being a solo voice, it’s also usually best suited for shorter events (2 hours or less, such as a wedding ceremony, marriage proposal, memorial, or gallery opening).

- Violin-Guitar Duo or Violin-Guitar-Double Bass Trio: Either of these two options are superb for clients with a slightly higher music budget, a larger venue or guest list size, a longer event, and most importantly, desiring a diverse playlist! These ensembles are truly the best of both worlds and perform convincingly, from Classical favorites to contemporary pop and just about everything in between, including Jazz, Rock, Latin, Country and Bluegrass, Celtic and Irish, Folk, Blues, and even Reggae.

With the violin typically taking the lead role, the guitar in duet orchestrates the harmony, rhythm, and even bass lines for the most economical symphony or band available. When adding double bass, we realize a paramount blend of mini orchestra and band, with the violin soaring above the complex chordal structure and rhythm of the guitar, and the double bass conjuring either the arco (played with the bow) counterpoint of a cello in a string quartet or orchestra, or the grooving pizzicato (plucked) bass lines of a band (that sound we love to “feel” the most).

The most frequent comments heard from guests about both the violin-guitar duo or violin-guitar-double bass trio are:
“How do you make it sound like a whole orchestra/band with only two/three people?”

“I heard the music (style) change so I came over to see who’s playing now and I can’t believe it’s still you guys!”

With either of these groups comes the additional perk of being able to add vocals (these musicians sing too!) if desired for a reception or event.

- Violin-Cello Duo, String Trio or Quartet: The sound of violin family instruments played in harmony is a classic choice for weddings and other events. While contemporary music and alternative genres are possible, string ensembles and players excel at the Classical music that was written for them. For clients wanting primarily Classical music, choosing between a duo, trio, or quartet is largely a matter of budget, venue and event size, but as each player’s part fills a specific role within the music, it’s especially important to determine the playlist ahead of time to ensure that suitable arrangements are available for the desired instrumentation.

In a quartet, the first violin is usually responsible for the melody, the cello fills out the bass lines, and the “inner voices” create the chordal structure and rhythm - second violin most often playing harmony and viola acting as go-between with the cello, offering chord voicing but frequently also rhythm. When booking a smaller string ensemble we need to ensure that we choose music that won’t be sparse with only two or three of the roles filled.

Rather than book the ensemble and choose the music later, it’s very helpful to identify at least a few key songs or the genre a client wishes to feature at the start of the booking process. From there we’re able to choose the instrumentation that will be best suited to make your favorite songs come to life.

Event Location Considerations and Acoustic Instruments:
The weather on the California Central Coast is always changing. By the coast it could be foggy in the morning, sunny and warm by noon, and windy and cold in the afternoon. Inland and mountain areas may often see triple digits in the summer, and ice or snow in the winter. For as many beautiful outdoor wedding locations as we have, there are just as many weather patterns.

Please be aware of that stringed instruments are made of fine wood and may be ruined if exposed to extreme weather conditions; this includes precipitation, hot sun and low humidity, and cold temperatures. Wind makes it hard to keep the bow on the strings and music on the stand, while icy fingers struggle to play. If an alternate location is not available, we reserve the right to cancel services in the event of inclement weather.

For all outdoor events we require shade (canopy tent, umbrella, tree, etc.) to protect our instruments from sun and heat damage and/or drizzle/rain.

Acoustic versus Amplified?:
Depending on the event size and location, music can be performed acoustically or using a small sound system for larger spaces when sound reinforcement is needed. Please get in touch to discuss what would be most appropriate for your situation.

Solo Violin/Viola Sampler
Violin-Guitar-Doublebass Trio Sampler
Violin-Guitar Duo Sampler
Violin-Cello Duo Sampler