The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have arrived in Visby, on the picturesque Swedish island of Gotland, for the first stop on their new ‘Baltic Folk’ tour. Following six days of intensive rehearsals, the orchestra will take to the stage of the Wisby Strand Concert Hall on Saturday 19 August to perform a folk-inspired programme of music by Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Arvo Pärt. The musicians will then travel to Wiesbaden in Germany for a concert the next day as part of the Rheingau Music Festival. The tour concludes on 23 August in Merano, northern Italy, where the orchestra has the honour of opening the Merano Music Festival.
Both festival appearances will be return visits for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The orchestra last played at the Merano Music Festival in 2011, and the Rheingau Music Festival is welcoming us back in its 30th anniversary year, after our previous appearance in 2014. The orchestra’s concert in Wiesbaden this month will be the first ever livestreamed event in the history of this prestigious festival to be broadcasted on the festival’s website.
Visby is a special place for the orchestra, and is in many ways the perfect location for the start of our new tour. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has always been concerned for the environment, and on Gotland, with its picturesque beaches, lakes and rocky outcrops, it’s impossible not to feel deeply connected to nature. One of the best-preserved medieval cities in northern Europe, Visby is also where the idea for the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic was born ten years ago in a concert of a project orchestra called the Baltic Youth Orchestra.
‘Baltic Folk’ is the orchestra’s second tour of 2017, after its ‘Waterworks’ tour of Germany and Denmark, which began on 5 May and will conclude this August with a series of concerts in Berlin, Peenemünde, Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Hamburg. For ‘Waterworks’, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic pioneered an immersive concert show format fusing music, lighting, sound design and projection art. With ‘Baltic Folk’ the orchestra will again enter uncharted territory by performing Stravinsky’s The Firebird – in its 1945 orchestral suite version – entirely from memory. For Kristjan, this approach opens up a new world of expression for the musicians. ‘Performing The Firebird from memory is all about chemistry and communication,’ he says. ‘It should feel like the players are improvising music that they have known for a long time.’
Alongside Stravinsky’s groundbreaking ballet music, the ‘Baltic Folk’ programme will feature Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a work that Kristjan calls ‘the most nostalgic, the most Russian-themed concerto ever’. As soloist, we welcome our youngest ever collaborator, the 15-year-old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev, one of the outstanding talents of his generation.
Preceding the two much-loved Russian works by Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky will be a contemporary piece by the celebrated Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. His contemplative, hymn-like Swansong, which was premiered in 2014, is an orchestration of an earlier choral composition, ‘Littlemore Tractus’.
Download the full ‘Baltic Folk tour programme here.
Baltic Folk Tour 2017
Saturday, 19 August 2017, 7.00 pm
Visby (Congress Hall Wisby Strand, Island of Gotland), Sweden
Sunday, 20 August, 7.00 pm
Rheingau Music Festival, Wiesbaden (Kursaal), Germany
Wednesday, 23 August, 8.30 pm
Merano Music Festival, Merano (Kursaal), Italy
Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Arvo Pärt: Swansong (Littlemore Tractus) for orchestra
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird (1945)