SA’s brightest new festival: Rachael Azzopardi’s journey to Illuminate Adelaide

Rachael Azzopardi - Illuminate Adelaide

Rachael Azzopardi considers herself ‘lucky’ to have worked with an array of amazing companies on a number of projects in the arts, festivals and events industries. In reality, she has worked hard at a career spanning the last 30 years to become one of the most respected and influential producers and event creators in the country.

With a number of impressive positions under her belt at Chunky Move Dance Company, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Festival, to name a few, Rachael has travelled nationally and internationally creating unique and memorable productions and experiences for audiences and communities across the world. 

Now, she returns home to South Australia to take on her most exciting project to date as co-founder and creative director of the highly anticipated new winter event, Illuminate Adelaide.

“There have been so many great moments in my career, and I think now coming home to Adelaide and being the co-founder and creator of a brand new event on the scale of Illuminate Adelaide, is something I am incredibly proud of,” she said.

Rachael’s career started on stage in the spotlight, studying as a drama student for two years before pursuing a professional singing career with a Bachelor of Music (Voice and Ethnomusicology) at the Elder Conservatorium.

“The Con was a great place to be. What was fantastic was everyone was together, the musicians and singers, across genres from jazz to classical – it was a melting pot of creativity,” Rachael said.

Though she was always passionate about performing, it was during her undergraduate degree when she realised all the incredible opportunities available to her in the arts, running the show from the wings. 

“When I was at Uni, we had choir performances and concert practices. I started organising those, which introduced me to producing.

“I didn’t realise I was producing at the time, but I started to enjoy that side of it, more so than performing. 

“That’s when the light flicked on in my head and I thought maybe there’s another side of the arts of which I could be part,” she said.

After graduating, Rachael produced countless shows and events, including working as Executive Producer of the Sydney Theatre Company’s Broadway season of The Present with Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh. 

Eventually, she felt the time was right to return to her hometown and give back to the arts community in South Australia, where it all began.

“A lot of people in the creative arts disperse and go national or international. Now, there are so many more opportunities in Adelaide, we’re doing so many great things in the creative Industries here in South Australia. 

“And I think that’s a great thing and that’s why I’ve chosen to come home to Adelaide, because I can think of no better place to be.”

As a University of Adelaide alumna, it means the world to Rachael to be able to light up the city with Illuminate Adelaide, the state’s new major winter event.

“I feel immensely proud and honoured as a South Australian, having worked a lot nationally and internationally, to have brought the big one back home.”

“We’ve got a wonderful partnership with The University of Adelaide this year, it’s amazing to have come full circle. I could never have imagined when I was a student that I would be partnering with The University of Adelaide to deliver a major event for South Australia,” she said.

Focusing on light, music and technology, Illuminate Adelaide will take over the city for two weeks during what has typically been a quieter time. With a variety of ticketed and free events, the program is packed full of interactive and unique experiences for all event-goers, featuring soundscapes, immersive tennchnology and installations, all tied together under an underlying theme of ‘bright future’.

Rachael hopes the festival can bring some physical and metaphorical light and positivity to the community, after an extremely difficult 18 months.

“We’re lucky that we can deliver this at a time when people need experiences like this, and we’re hoping it will make people happy.

“We are the event and festival city. We want to celebrate what we do here and get everyone out and about.

“We want the community to own Illuminate Adelaide, to embrace it, for it to grow and become part of the DNA of this city,” she said.

You can experience the wonder of Illuminate Adelaide in the Adelaide CBD from Friday 16 July – Sunday 1 August 2021. More details and the full program available here.

Story by Sasha Champion.

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