Shelley van Loen and the Palm Court Strings

Shelley van Loen and the Palm Court Strings are a versatile group of musicians who have made a unique field of performing their own. They have earned themselves a reputation throughout the UK and are increasingly in demand for events that range from Bafta Awards at the Royal Albert Hall to the lounge of the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne.

The group was formed in 1982 when Shelley van Loen acquired a rare collection of salon music. Since this time her library has expanded substantially to include a wide selection of classic tunes from the Salon era.

The band specialise in performing music from the 'Golden' era of the 1920's and 30's wearing original costumes of the period with flapper dresses, tail-coats, wing collars and spats.

Over the years they have performed in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Diana, Lady Margaret Thatcher, John Major and the President of Senegal. In complete contrast they were engaged to provide the music for Alan Ayckbourn's production of 'Tons of Money' which ran for a year at the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank in London.

The list of events for which they have supplied the music is inexhaustible; it includes the BBC Radio 2 broadcast of the Agatha Christie Centenary Celebrations from the Grand Hotel in Torquay, an appearance in the recent TV 'Miss Marple' series with Geraldine McEwen, Lord Olivier's 80th Birthday Party, the celebration at Dover Castle to commemorate Louis Bleriot's First flight across the Channel, the 'Riverdance' 1st Night Party at the Natural History Museum and a sit-down lunch for 800 guests, ten miles into the Channel Tunnel-an event televised by Channel 4 for the programme 'Without Walls'. They also played at the Official Royal Opening of the Tunnel on 6th May 1994.

In 2001 the band were invited to take a residency to play for afternoon tea once a month at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne where they attract capacity audiences from far and wide. On April 21st 2005 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme from the 'Grand' dealing with the late Tom Jenkins and salon music past and present in which Shelley van Loen and the Palm Court Strings participated. It was at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne in 1924 that the BBC made the first broadcast of their legendary Sunday night programme which began: 'We are now taking you over to the Grand Hotel Eastbourne…..'

The Palm Court Strings released their highly acclaimed CD 'Step Lightly' in September 1998. It was reviewed by Richard Baker as his 'CD of the month' in Classic FM magazine. He pointed out that although many members of the older generation will enjoy the disc because it reminds them of their youth: 'the pleasure's not just for us oldies; the light music classics of yesterday are coming back into favour in a big way today.

Biography by Margaret Campbell





Notebook: Heritage

by Sue Corbett

Original sheet music of the Twenties and Thirties is the stock-in-trade of the freelance violinist Shelley van Loen, who this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of her Palm Court Strings, a group performing numbers from the golden era of "salon music". The Strings' birthday season at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, accompanies afternnoon tea on the last Sunday of every month from August 25 to May 25, 2003, with evocative tunes such as Jealousy. Pale Hands I Loved and The Phantom Melody.