Hiring major venues in Sydney is a costly exercise. Albeit the performers get a world class stage and the support services to boot. However, the budget involved is more often than not, beyond the means of smaller and emerging artistes; and the larger auditoriums are not always acoustically suited to the performers.
Meeting these needs are a selection of alternative venues – originally church halls, art galleries and even the plain outdoors – which are being turned into performance spaces. Seating, sight lines, and acoustics may not have the strictly controlled aspects of the concert hall – but performers and concert presenters are keen to please the audience and this trend creates a frisson that is out of the ordinary.
I Musici the Rome based chamber ensemble is soon to perform in the Royal Botanic Gardens; ArtSong NSW this year moves from St John’s Church in Neutral Bay to the Mosman Art Gallery; cellist Rachel Scott presents her Bach in the Dark series in a candle-lit church crypt. The Jenolan Caves, and now even Sydney harbour (La Traviata presented by Opera Australia and Handa) are places that are being put to new theatrical and music experiences – and reaching out to new audiences.
A pair of articles in the recent Sydney press takes a look at two such ventures: