Pulling Classical Strings

M edia entrepreneur Pendra Lee Snyder has spent her career traveling the roads, broadcasting and writing the news, taking pride in all she creates. The Indiana State graduate is currently celebrating a decade of strings with her traveling ensemble Viva La Strings. After operating The Christian Citizen newspaper she dusted off the violin, and started […]

Brunch and Ballyhoo at The Dublin Pub with Viva La Strings    

Eclectic choices of instruments to create unusual ensembles is a Viva La Strings hallmark.

By Mike Ritchie

Media entrepreneur Pendra Lee Snyder has spent her career traveling the roads, broadcasting and writing the news, taking pride in all she creates. The Indiana State graduate is currently celebrating a decade of strings with her traveling ensemble Viva La Strings.

After operating The Christian Citizen newspaper she dusted off the violin, and started playing again. Viva was born after a chance wedding invitation. “A girlfriend asked if I’d play a wedding with her,” Snyder says. “I didn’t really have a plan to create it. It just… kind of unfolded. It keeps me busy and has grown exponentially.”

Because of the newspaper, they were involved with Dayton Right to Life, who holds an annual fundraiser called Viva La Vita. After becoming a trio, they asked Right to Life if they wanted some event music.  Snyder was asked their name for the program book. “Their name is Viva La Vita, ours is Viva La Strings.” That’s how the name came to be. Snyder clarifies they’re an ensemble, not a band. “We’re a collection of string musicians,” she says. “Now we’re larger with pianists, guitars and flutes.” They recently added a hammered dulcimer player.

This year they have a few weddings booked with strings, trumpets and harps. “We have a core group of 10 people with semi regulars we add, on request.” 

Their size and orchestration depends on venue and instruments requested. “Generally a quartet or trio, depending on venue size. Occasionally we’ll have a solo.” A trio could be any combination of instruments, with different arrangements of different instrumentations for different folks. They’re acoustic except when keyboards substitute for piano or someone wants a guitar.

Everyone is classically trained with different careers. “It’s a great opportunity to do something for extra income doing what they love,” Snyder says. “That’s the thrill I get from Viva La Strings. At the core of my being, I’m an entrepreneur. I like making things happen.”

One of the gentlemen that joined early on told them after a few months he was able to pay off his car. “That was such a cool thing,” Snyder remembers. “That really touched my heart.”

Weddings are their biggest market. Snyder says weddings aren’t traditional in the classic sense anymore. “We have an array of current, popular music, accommodating the best we can. We have arrangers that will arrange special requests.” Their wedding ‘set’ is usually a 30-minute prelude, ceremony, then three or four songs for a postlude. “Sometimes they’ll hire us for cocktail hour.”

Snyder says any song can be transferred to strings, within reason, even NIN, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. They’ve even played the throne room scene from Star Wars. “It’s a different style, attitude and class of music,” Snyder explains. “You’re attacking the music differently. You wouldn’t play in the same style as Mozart.” Kip the Acoustic Pirate loves their renditions of rock songs. 

They have an upcoming gig that’s almost all heavy metal music on strings. “Some of its kinda pretty,” Snyder says with a wink. 

Being instrumental they’ve never turned down songs for lyrical content, though a crowd did Karaoke “Sweet Caroline” once.

Last year they played 200 shows in Dayton and Columbus with 51 in Nashville, some serious strings for a touring ensemble. “Every year we’ve grown,” Snyder states. “This year, we’re launching a separately managed Columbus group. Two years ago, I launched Viva La Strings in Nashville.” Nashville was a separate accomplishment and they’re getting booked up fast this year.

The Nashville group has done weddings for one of Dolly Parton’s personal assistants and other artists.

They’ve played in Richmond, Indiana and Northern Kentucky. “That’s far enough,” Snyder jokes.

During Christmas season they often play in building lobbies spreading stringed cheer.

Last summer, they played in a forest in Richmond, Indiana with a sinking floor anchoring seats down next to trees and rocks. “Next thing we know, a full sized tree came crashing down,” Snyder recalls. “A tree falling in the forest that was heard, including our screams,” Snyder quips. “It was crazy. Somebody could’ve been killed…in the cold and spooky woods.”

They also play summer Smith Park gigs in Oakwood, lunchtime church events and assisted living centers. 

Snyder enjoys her creations. “I like creating things to see what happens. It shocks me sometimes, how small Viva La Strings started. Now look at the number of people involved and how large it’s gotten.” It’s made a big positive community impact.   

As a Christian she really enjoys Christian weddings but doesn’t judge who or how people want to get married. “They’re doing what they feel is right. I just play the music.”

They’ve played The Dublin Pub for five years but don’t play bars often. Though, they welcome everyone to celebrate Father’s Day with live music till 2 p.m. with great food and drink till 3 p.m.

Viva La Strings play June 17 at The Dublin Pub, 300 Wayne Ave, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go to www.dubpub.com for more details, or vivalastrings.com.

Tags: , ,

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?

YourOpinionMatters

We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Plugged In

IMG_0400 (meijer)

The next sound you hear will be…well, I don’t know what it will be but I know what it won’t […]

Debate 6/12: A tweet too far

gv053118dAPC

Was anyone really surprised? Roseanne Barr has stepped in it again. Always a loose cannon, she managed to offend just […]

If you’ve seen one ‘Ocean’, you’ve seen ‘Ocean’s 8’

Oceans8-6

Near the start of “Ocean’s 8,” we’re led to believe that Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is dead and his sister […]

Gin and Tonic on the Horizon

VH+live+cr-+Brett+Missick

On June 13, The Rose Music Center is the place to be to get your 90s nostalgia fix as Gin […]

Goodnight Goodnight’s new morning

_MG_0158

“We’ve known Larry for years,” says Gary Thornton of Goodnight Goodnight. He’s talking about the newest addition to their lineup, […]