Music can serve as a language. After all, what more is language than different sounds with assigned meaning? When translating between languages, there is no direct translation: sentence structure alters, tones affect meaning, words don’t have direct counterparts. This is much in part to how culture influences language, building a way to communicate for a similar group of people. Like language, translating a song from pop to classical cannot take a direct route. Available instruments change, certain sounds are no longer available—it can’t be a direct translation.
Candlelight, a Fever Original, began exclusively as classical concerts, featuring music from composers such as Beethoven and Bach. Recently, they’ve transformed songs you love into a new language.
“We wanted to make the [classical] genre more accessible,” says Ashleigh Southard, Associate Producer for Fever.
Instead of the guitar and drums you’re used to, you’ll hear cello and violin at Candlelight’s tribute concerts, preforming music from artists including, Queen, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, ABBA, and Ed Sheeran.
“Our goal is to connect people to unique experiences in their city,” Ashleigh states. “Every venue I’ve talked to has never heard of an event like this.”
At Wings Over the Rockies, musicians, candles and audience members are towered over by retired aircraft. The museum inside an old hangar began hosting Candlelight events in 2020 to allow for proper social distancing. Ashleigh enjoys museum venues because they offer “something extra along with the performance.” Doors open over an hour before the show, allowing audience members to enjoy the exhibit before taking their seats.
Accompanying the newly turned, classical arrangements are over two thousand LED candles. Their flicker is meditative, allowing a racing mind to solely focus on the music. The musicians of the string quartet, Range Ensemble, ease you into this meditative state. Their dedication to the music overflows from the stage, each understanding how they best contribute to the composition. Depending on who you focus on, you are able to pick out the distinctive pieces that build a song: harmony, melody, rhythm.
Translating a song from a recording studio to a string quartet commands creativity. With two violins, a viola and a cello, instruments are used in innovative ways to craft novel sounds. Performers scrape their bow across the strings on the wrong side of the bridge. Bows are harshly scratched against the strings. Metal ends of bows are tapped onto strings. An originally EDM song is mixed with fiddle components.
This all builds as each song reaches the bridge. The tempo hastens and the musicians’ passion becomes palpable. One violinist’s bow glides across the strings with fluidity, the other attacks each note, his bow trembling with each strike. Grace and power are at odds, but the musicians themselves sway back and forth in harmony. Their bows syncs: up and down, up and down. Within these moments, grace and power find equilibrium.
Watching this dance unfold is what makes live music superior. You find yourself rooting for the violist when she gets a chance to play the melody. Your skin crawls at the stroke of a high note. You feel the deep murmur of the cello in your chest. Your throat clenches as the violinist’s bow slams onto the strings over and over and over again. You catch knowing glances between musicians. Whether you liked classical music before the performance is irrelevant because you do now, now that you understand this new language that's been played before you in the candlelight.