Festival proves a crowd pleaser

The Adam Chamber Music Festival has ended on a high note with a sold-out finale, a boost in overall ticket sales, and money in the kitty for the next event in two years.

Festival director Bob Bickerton had his first good sleep in two weeks last night after a successful event that brought national and international musicians to Nelson.

The festival, named after Wellington music lovers Denis and Verna Adam, ended with a sold-out grand finale at Nelson Cathedral on Saturday night.

Mr Bickerton had reason to sleep soundly, with close to 6000 tickets sold to this year's event, up on 4300 in 2011.

That figure did not include people who had heard the Troubadour Quartet's free concerts around Nelson, he said.

"We've reached more people in the community too. It's great."

Mr Bickerton said an early focus on marketing, with a new website and regular e-newsletters, paid off.

"We sold tickets much earlier and much more consistently, from October 1 up until the festival." This was different to previous festivals, where 50 per cent of tickets were sold in the last three weeks.

"Our marketing kicked in early, and I think people responded to that. We redesigned our website, and became a lot more e-savvy."

Mr Bickerton said this year's festival would definitely break even, and there would be some money in the bank for the next one.

"We also spent a lot more this time around. We spent 40 per cent more on artists than in previous years, which made the festival more attractive." The festival's budget was about $400,000 over two years, and it was supported through funding from the Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency (EDA).

Mr Bickerton said past festivals generated an estimated $2.3 million in spending in the Nelson economy, and "it certainly looks as though we have increased the economic impact".

He said the EDA would review the $2.3m figure once it had analysed the impact of the latest festival.

Saturday night's grand finale at Nelson Cathedral featured the Penderecki String Quartet, of Canada, and the New Zealand String Quartet.

Mr Bickerton said concert-goers were met with a surprise on leaving, with the Chimuka Marimba Band bursting into life outside the cathedral.

"People looked in a state of shock to begin with, but they couldn't help themselves . . . they just started moving. By the end basically everyone was dancing - the musicians, and the audience. It was a bit of a risk, but it worked really well." Another festival highlight was a bus trip to the Chapel of Christ in St Arnaud to experience an intimate concert with the Penderecki String Quartet.

"People just loved the whole experience, and were wanting to book for 2015 right there and then," he said.

"We managed to build a real festival buzz, and we established what felt like a little community of people. The music was great as well. The whole thing was so positive."

The Nelson Mail