To unite the people of this region and bridge national boundaries forms the basis of the orchestra’s ambition to enable cultural and social cooperation. Just as the Baltic Sea both separates and connects its ten surrounding countries, BYP celebrates the diverse national characteristics of the musicians and the music while creating a united voice for the entire region. The orchestra was formed in 2008, when Festival Director Thomas Hummel brought together the two founding partners – Usedom Music Festival and Nord Stream AG, the operator of the natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea which continues to support the orchestra – and the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic was born.
Each year, the finest musicians are chosen from across Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden to form a unique orchestra. Guided by Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, BYP prepares original programmes for international tours that bring the rich sounds of the Baltic Sea to the world, including many world premieres. In its commissioning of new music by living composers and in reimagining familiar works, BYP dedicates itself to keeping the musical landscape of the region alive.
Since then, BYP’s reputation and ambitions have grown steadily and it has toured the famous concert halls and festivals of Europe, including White Nights Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, Bonn Beethovenfest, Rheingau Music Festival and Usedom Music Festival, its original birthplace. Concert tours have taken BYP to Italy several times, including to Meraner Festwochen and MiTo Festival. In 2014 the orchestra made its debut at Berlin’s prestigious Philharmonie and one year later it performed at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris for the first time. It has performed with some of the world’s finest soloists, such as Julia Fischer, Valentina Lisitsa, Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorgiu and Daniel Hope, and been heard around the world, thanks to radio recordings for NDR Germany and Deutschlandradio Kultur and broadcasts by Mezzo and Classica.
Another highlight for the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic was its concert at the Summit of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in 2012 on the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who praised BYP as ‘a compelling example of using music as a powerful medium for cooperation and integration across borders.’ The group has also won international acclaim for its performances (Tagesspiegel wrote: ‘The joy in discovery of Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic knows no boundaries. One simply had to get carried away’), and its recent CD on French label Naïve, ‘Baltic Sea Voyage’, of which review website www.planethugill.com wrote: Throughout the orchestra plays with a fine combination of technical finesse and emotional depth.’ In 2015 the orchestra was awarded the European Cultural Prize in recognition of the enormous impact it has made on the culture of the region.
Over time the educational aspect of BYP’s work with 18–28-year-olds intensified, with the formation of ‘Baltic Sea Music Academy’ including its orchestra LAB, workshops, composer programmes and mini-masterclass–auditions. In 2013 Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation (BMEF) was created to develop these elements into a consolidated music educational system for the area. And in April 2016 Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the sister orchestra of BYP was launched to become the primary public-facing part of the foundation, coming together several times a year to tour specific projects.