The Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians and Kristjan Järvi have returned home after an exhilarating first half of their ‘Waterworks’ tour of Germany and Denmark. Over 12 days the orchestra travelled 1,500 km and played to more than 8,000 people. The opening concert in Hattingen, Germany, was a sell-out, with standing ovations setting the tone for the subsequent concerts in Copenhagen and Aarhus, which met with an equally positive response. The players now have a three-month break before the ‘Waterworks’ tour continues in Germany in August.
The music of ‘Waterworks’ focuses on the life-giving power of water, reflecting the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s commitment to the environment, and especially to the Baltic Sea itself. ‘This body of water is the engine of the region,’ says Kristjan Järvi, ‘the thing that gives us all our necessities of life. It’s why people settled around here, and it also connects with all the other water across the world.’
The programme includes one of the most famous of all water-themed pieces, Handel’s Water Music, in a special arrangement featuring variations by Charles Coleman and Daniel Schnyder. The orchestra is also celebrating the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass by performing Aguas da Amazonia, in an orchestration by Charles Coleman, and Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2, with Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan as soloist.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s passion for innovation shone through in the concerts, most noticeably with the introduction of cutting-edge lighting, video art and sound design, which transformed the musical presentation into an immersive concert experience. The musicians also sported a striking new look on stage, thanks to a collaboration with Estonian fashion house Baltika Group. Designers from Monton, one of Baltika’s five international brands, created 13 different outfits for the men and 9 different outfits for the women, all of which were styled to reflect the water theme of the programme.
In another innovation, three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble – trumpeter Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes and percussionist David Rozenblatt – have been embedded in the orchestra. All three featured on Kristjan Järvi’s new recording of Aguas da Amazonia.
Such an innovative approach to performance and repertoire has excited the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s young musicians. Lithuanian violinist Augusta Jusionyté, one of the orchestra’s principals, said: ‘I love having the opportunity to play minimalist music, and what Kristjan is doing – inviting musicians from the Absolute Ensemble, and giving an electronic sound to the orchestra – is what makes this music relevant today. This is what we’re hungry for as musicians, and what makes us very excited.’
Listen to the radio broadcast of the concert in Copenhagen here and watch a video review of the concert in Hattingen here. You can download the ‘Waterworks’ tour programme and book tickets for the remaining tour concerts here.