Candlelight Club – Style Weekly

In talking about the Bolling Haxall House, an opulent Italianate mansion built in 1858, Leighann Boland says, “The house shines when it has people in it.”

The East Franklin Street landmark is the home and headquarters of The Woman’s Club and, as the private social club’s executive director, it’s part of Boland’s job to bring people into the building as often as possible.

One of the biggest draws over the past year has been the Candlelight Concerts, a series of performances by a string quartet that are open to the public, each one focused on a contemporary artist, and presented in a venue lit only by candlelight.

“It’s just gorgeous,” says Boland. “You can enjoy a concert with the music of an artist like Taylor Swift or Pink Floyd in this beautiful setting. The public has reacted very positively and that’s very nice for the club.”

“The house is meant for entertaining and for outreach, so the popularity of the series has been very rewarding for all of us.”

Photo by Vanessa Medina

The Candlelight Concert idea started in Europe but the live-event development and discovery platform Fever brought it to America in 2019 with a show in New York. Since then, the company has expanded the series to over 100 cities across the country. Fever’s Richmond project manager, Peter Sourbis, says that Bolling Haxall House matches the event profile perfectly.

“We’re always looking for unique venues and [the house] fits very snugly with our brand,” he says. “A lot of times, when you go see classical music, it’s in a big auditorium, which can be fine. But we try to create a more intimate setting in a place that looks great in candlelight. The sound quality there is excellent, too.”

Sourbis says this kind of unique concert experience was one of the rare events that benefited from the pandemic. “So many people were starved for entertainment at that time and we found that we could perform safely outdoors,” he explains. “So this was a new option people could enjoy. Later on, with masks and social distancing, we could also keep things safe when we moved indoors.”

The popularity of the events may surprise people: Fever has scheduled three or four shows per month at Bolling Haxall House almost since the beginning. “You don’t always assume that a classical music performance will bring in the kind of audience that it does,” says Sourbis. “But there is a big appetite for it.”

The concerts generally happen on Tuesday or Wednesday so as to not interfere with other Woman’s Club programming and each show is about 65 minutes long. “Each of the concerts will have two performances that can handle 200 people max per performance and they sell out,” says Boland. “It’s a nice option for people because it’s something to do during the week.”

Other arts and cultural events hosted by The Woman’s Club include flower shows, baking classes and a weekly lecture series. Photo by Samantha Ellis

While the Candlelight shows have become a key component of The Woman’s Club’s cultural profile, Boland says the organization is committed to offering members an array of interesting options.

“The club was formed with the idea of giving members the opportunity to enjoy the delightful friction of well-trained minds,” she says. Founded in 1894, The Woman’s Club is the fifth oldest women’s club in the country and arts and cultural events have been a key aspect of its appeal since the beginning.

Foremost among its offerings is a weekly speaker series, open only to members and their guests. Every Monday afternoon, an outside expert gives a talk, then hangs around afterwards to mingle and answer questions. Topics of upcoming talks range from the history of fingerprints in forensics, combating ageism, and flashpoints in US-China relations.

“The two things that our members value most are the Monday programs and the fellowship they find in belonging to the club,” Boland says. “This is a place where women come together to support women, where they can interact with friends and have conversations in a less formal atmosphere.”

Events the club offers to support fellowship include museum field trips and cooking classes, like an upcoming scones and biscotti baking class for Valentine’s Day. And, as the run up begins to another presidential election, there is a surprising willingness to dig into difficult conversations about various political viewpoints and other current issues.

“We invite people with a variety of opinions and with different backgrounds so we can have dynamic discussions,” says Boland. “That’s really the basis of the club. There’s just a real thirst out there for knowledge and discussion.”

Upcoming Candlelight Concerts include a Valentine’s Day Special focused on “Romeo and Juliet” on Feb. 14 and A Tribute to Taylor Swift on Feb. 15. Tickets and information at More information on The Woman’s Club available at


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