20 July 2023

Unconventional multisensory classical concert series hits Wollongong

| Dione David
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Classical musicians on a stage surrounded by hundreds of candles

Classical music done unconventionally, in unexpected places – Candlelight Concerts is heading to Wollongong in September. Photos: Fever Up.

A classical music phenomenon that’s breaking down barriers across the world is headed to the Illawarra for the first time.

Global experience producers Fever Up will debut their wildly popular Candlelight Concerts series in Wollongong in September.

The concept was developed in Europe in 2019 when Fever Up noticed a schism in the behavioural patterns of would-be classical music consumers.

Classical musicians and a ballerina on a stage surrounded by hundreds of candles

Visuals and venue play an important part of the experience.

Younger demographics were clicking on social media links for classical music, but these actions weren’t translating to ticket sales.

“We realised there was a gap in the market for a classical music experience that was less intimidating for younger audiences; something that better matched their expectations of a live music experience,” Fever Up regional manager Phil Mallet says.

“We got to work developing something more intimate, something multisensory, where visual components accompanying the music were an important part of the experience.”

It resulted in Candlelight Concerts, a series that offers “something more in line with how people consume experiences in the 21st Century”.

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Picture an intimate setting awash in the glow of thousands of flickering electronic candles, where the musicians are not aloof figures on a distant stage but positioned to connect with their audience.

The Wollongong program will come in hot with three concerts that demonstrate a diverse repertoire – Vivaldi Four Seasons, Best of Hans Zimmer and a tribute to Coldplay, all held at the Wollongong Uniting Church.

“The choice of venue is always an essential element of a Candlelight experience. We want something intimate, but also different – a departure from the typical concert venue,” Phil says.

“Whether you’re listening to a classical program like Vivaldi, a more contemporary composer like Hans Zimmer or music from your favourite modern artist, part of the Candlelight experience is discovering the character of the buildings where these concerts are held.”

Coldplay may not be the kind of artist usually associated with classical music, but they’re not the most “out there” inspiration for Candlelight Concerts, which have paid homage to modern artists such as Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Pink Floyd, Queen and Radiohead.

It’s one way the series breaks down barriers to a genre that’s generally viewed in a strictly conventional light – along with the cost of tickets and the length of the show.

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The formula seems to be working, with Candlelight Concerts now playing in 300 cities worldwide. Interestingly, about 70 per cent of attendees have never been to a classical concert before.

“Our mission is to democratise culture and entertainment,” Phil says. “We developed the concerts with ages 25 to 40 in mind but in reality, we just wanted to create something accessible for audiences who had never experienced classical music before.”

Musicians on stage surrounded by hundreds of candles

Candlelight Concerts have been held in more than 100 venues around the world.

“To see that the majority of people attending these concerts have never experienced a classical concert before is stunning.

“We see people going to Candlelight Concerts with their kids, we see 18-year-olds on date nights or out with their friends, and we see seasoned classical concert goers who have attended concerts at Sydney Opera House, who are delighted to experience this form of music in an unexpected setting.”

Candlelight Concerts in Wollongong will be delivered by a yet-to-be-announced string quartet on 15 and 16 September at Wollongong Uniting Church. Tickets start at $25. For updates, more information or to purchase tickets visit Fever Up Wollongong.

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