Bach with a spark: Candlelight Concerts debuts in India with music that enthrals

There are certain experiences in life that let you transcend the bounds of your environment: feeling the waves tickle your feet, going on a long, rambling walk with someone you love, digging into a decadent chocolate cake, watching a sunset colour the sky riotous. Listening to Bach and Beethoven in the flickering embrace of 10,000 candles was one such experience. It made you feel lighter, frothier—as though the heavens themselves were within reach. 

Candlelight Concerts debuted at the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts in Delhi on a sultry summer evening. The stairs leading to the auditorium were lit up, and as people made their way up, there was a hushed air of anticipation. “Looks like it will be a beautiful experience,” someone murmured from behind. Inside the auditorium, however, it was pitch-dark, until one’s gaze was directed to the stage, brimming with candlelight.

The pianist, Vashu Tangri, took centre stage, the dancing flames blurring his silhouette. The play of light made him look almost surreal, like a mythical storybook character. Then he began playing and his music—from Mozart to  Chopin—transported you into a dream sequence. The experience was meditative, a massage for the mind. An hour later, the music ended, and for a moment, there was silence. Then came the standing ovation, the thunder after the lightning.

Candlelight

Representational image | Kritajna Naik

The concerts are underway in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Faridabad,  Chennai and Bengaluru, and offer a wide range of choices from classical music and jazz to pop, movie soundtracks and ballet. Candlelight Concerts is the intellectual property of the American company Fever Labs Inc—a  live-entertainment discovery platform. The six-year-old company has a presence in over 100 cities, including London, New York, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan and Toronto. The concerts have been attended by over three million guests in these countries. The brand plans to launch more IPs in India soon, including art exhibitions, and immersive experiences. 

The Candlelight team says that the electric candles are stocked in their inventories after the concert and re-used if the next concert happens nearby.  Otherwise, new candles are brought in. In larger and more open settings, more than 30,000 candles are lit. Their most popular concert remains the one atop Paris’s Eiffel Tower. However, Delhi’s sweltering heat currently makes it impossible to organise a Candlelight Concert in an open space.

Deepa Bajaj, country manager India, Fever Originals, says that the response in the country has been phenomenal and that they would love to organise a concert near Qutub Minar one day, if they get the permits. “We are sold out for the next 30 days,” she says. “We are trying to reach different audiences with concerts themed on classical music, best movie soundtracks and tribute to  [the band] Coldplay. We plan to launch in at least 20 cities this year.” 

The idea is to democratise access to music in intimate settings illuminated by thousands of candles and so, each concert in a new city sees a local artist performing at different venues to reach a larger audience. Bajaj says that candlelight is the best way to engage people in classical music. “The format has been very successful in cities,” she says. “This way, a large audience is listening to classical music, a rarity these days. It is a meditative and cosy experience. Even while playing Coldplay, the artists do a  classical instrument rendition.” 

Much like wine and cheese, or David and Victoria Beckham, candlelight and classical music is a pairing whose time has come.