AMAZON PRIME VIDEO RELEASES ‘BASTILLE – REORCHESTRATED’ DOCUMENTARY STARRING BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC AND KRISTJAN JÄRVI

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi star in a new documentary released today on Amazon Prime Video. ‘ReOrchestrated’ is a feature-length film exploring how British pop pand Bastille redefined its sound and the musical experience for its fans by experimenting with orchestral arrangements. The documentary features extensive performance and behind-the-scenes footage from a spectacular charity concert at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on 4 January 2020, when the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi joined Bastille on stage to perform special reorchestrations of the band’s songs. The concert, in support of YouTube charity channel Channel Aid, was a wild success, with 2,100 music fans packing the Elbphilharmonie, and more than 10,000 following a livestream of the performance on YouTube. Bastille lead vocalist Dan Smith said on the collaboration with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic: ‘It was a real privilege to play with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi. To collaborate on stage with so many brilliant musicians was such an incredible experience and one that we’ll never forget.’ A trailer of the documentary is available on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic YouTube channel.

The ‘Bastille – ReOrchestrated’ documentary traces the evolution of the band’s ‘ReOrchestrated’ project, from its origins with a string quartet and choir at London’s Union Chapel in 2017, to Bastille’s huge show with choir and orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018, and finally to the Elbphilharmonie in 2020 and the collaboration with Kristjan Järvi and the full Baltic Sea Philharmonic. Alongside amazing footage from the Hamburg concert, the documentary also features an interview with Kristjan Järvi.

In the run-up to the release of the ‘Bastille Reorchestrated’ film, on 15 January Amazon Music released a new single, ‘Warmth ReOrchestrated’, which was recorded live at the Elbphilharmonie concert. The new track is a supercharged version of Bastille’s song ‘Warmth’, which first appeared on the group’s 2016 album Wild World. A video to accompany the ‘Warmth ReOrchestrated’ single has been released on Amazon Music Unlimited and on Bastille’s social media channels.

Watch to ‘ReOrchestrated’ on Amazon Prime Video here

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC’S DIGITAL TALENT TOUR CONCLUDES AFTER LIVE VIDEO AUDITIONS FOR 91 APPLICANTS FROM ALL AROUND THE BALTIC SEA REGION

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has completed its first-ever Digital Talent Tour, having moved its 2020 recruitment drive online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the week of 18–22 January 2021, the orchestra held live video-conference auditions for 91 candidates from the entire Baltic Sea region. These 91 musicians were selected from more than 200 candidates who had applied between 15 October and 30 November 2020 and had submitted recorded video performances.

The live virtual auditions were held in front of a jury comprising ten Baltic Sea Philharmonic principal musicians and conductor Kristjan Järvi, with the candidates given 15–20 minutes to tell the jury about themselves and perform selected repertoire that they had prepared. Following the live virtual auditions, the jury made a final selection of 70 musicians, who will now join the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s pool of outstanding players for upcoming international tours and exciting opportunities on stage, in the studio and online.

A new kind of audition process for unprecedented times  

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic constantly strives to refresh and expand its roster of musicians, and was set to run its Talent Tour 2020 audition programme alongside its planned ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Poland, Germany and Russia in June and July 2020. When that tour was postponed because of the pandemic, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic immediately started to develop innovative digital projects and solutions. Recognising that there was a significant hunger among musicians to showcase their talents and artistic personality at a time of drastically reduced performance opportunities, the orchestra launched a two-stage Digital Talent Tour combining video and online technology with an in-person virtual audition.

Like the regular Talent Tour, the Digital Talent Tour was open to applicants aged 18 to 28 from, or studying in, one of the ten countries around the Baltic Sea – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The 91 applicants selected for the live virtual auditions represented the full spectrum of orchestral instruments, with 36 string players, 12 brass players, 24 woodwind players, 7 harpists, 6 percussionists and 6 pianists.

Empowering musicians on both sides of the screen

In common with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s other digital initiatives of recent months, including the innovative ‘Musical Chain’ series of classical remix videos, the Digital Talent Tour aims to connect, unite and empower musicians amid an extremely challenging landscape for the performing arts. The orchestra’s principals had important responsibilities throughout the entire Digital Talent Tour audition process, from helping to choose the audition repertoire, to assessing the initial video applications, and then conducting the live virtual auditions. By helping to appraise and interview their peers, these experienced members play a key role in shaping and developing the unique personality of the orchestra as a whole.

As jurors, the principals felt it was important at the live auditions to create a supportive atmosphere for the candidates. Principal flautist Kristine Beitika, from Latvia, said: ‘When I listened to the applicants I wanted them to succeed and feel confident and happy about their playing. Having had this experience I know that it will help me for my own auditions. It was important for applicants to realise that there is not much to worry about when you’re at an audition, that the jury definitely knows how it feels to play an audition and that they will do everything they can to make you feel at ease.’

Applicants who were selected for the second round certainly valued the opportunity to perform in a live virtual audition in front of a jury. Spanish clarinettist Alejandro Lobato, who is studying in Sweden, said: ‘An online audition is the best idea right now, because I consider that an audition has to be live and direct, and not just based on a video recording. During the audition all the jurors were very professional and polite, and it was a good experience to share some music with them and also tell them about my own experience.’ Lobato was one of the second-round candidates chosen by the jury to join the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s pool of talented musicians, and the orchestra looks forward to working with him and all the other successful applicants in the near future.

Read more about the Digital Talent Tour here

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC HAS TO CANCEL ITS MARCH 2021 ‘MIDNIGHT SUN’ CONCERTS IN BERLIN, HAMBURG AND SZCZECIN

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Baltic Sea Philharmonic to cancel its ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Poland and Germany, which was planned for March 2021. The orchestra and Kristjan Järvi had hoped to perform in Szczecin on 12 March, at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg on 14 March, and in Berlin on 15 March. Owing to the virus containment measures imposed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, the three concerts will now not take place. The Szczecin concert has been postponed to September 2021, when it will form part of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s new ‘Nordic Swans’ tour.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is continuing to plan for live concerts later this year including the annual visit to the Usedom Music Festival in September, performing a new ‘Nordic Swans’ programme featuring music by Arvo Pärt, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius.

Orchestra strengthens unique digital presence
Amid the ongoing disruption of live performances, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi  are developing a range of innovative online initiatives, such as ‘Musical Chain’, a series of strikingly original music remix videos bringing musicians from the orchestra together with other artists and creative collaborators. Since its launch in July 2020, ‘Musical Chain’ has so far featured four videos that reimagine iconic classical pieces: ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt; ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, inspired by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; ‘Ascending Swans’, based on Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ from the Swanwhite Suite; and ‘Nutty Christmas’, a fun seasonal take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. ‘Musical Chain’ will continue in 2021 with more international collaborations and guest artists.

Digital kick-off in 2021: Digital Talent Tour and ‘Warmth Reorchestrated’ with Bastille
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is starting 2021 with a range of exciting digital activities. The orchestra and Kristjan Järvi feature on ‘Warmth Reorchestrated’, a new version of pop band Bastille’s single ‘Warmth’ released by Amazon Music on 15 January. The track was recorded live at last January’s ‘Bastille Reorchestrated’ charity concert for Channel Aid at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, where the British indie group joined the Baltic Sea Philharmonic to perform special reorchestrations of the band’s songs. An accompanying ‘Warmth Reorchestrated’ video is released on Amazon Music Unlimited and also on Bastille’s YouTube channel.

Between 18 and 22 January the orchestra is holding live video-conference auditions as part of its Digital Talent Tour to recruit new musicians to the pool of Baltic Sea Philharmonic players. Moving its Talent Tour online in response to the pandemic is, like ‘Musical Chain’, another example of how the orchestra is evolving new ways to unite and empower musicians in the face of an extraordinary situation.

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AMAZON MUSIC RELEASES NEW VERSION OF BASTILLE’S SINGLE ‘WARMTH’ FEATURING BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC AND KRISTJAN JÄRVI

Almost exactly a year to the day since the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi rocked the Elbphilharmonie with pop band Bastille in an epic charity concert, Amazon Music is today exclusively releasing a new single which was recorded live at that spectacular show in Hamburg. ‘Warmth Reorchestrated’, released as an Amazon Original production, is a supercharged version of Bastille’s song ‘Warmth’, which first appeared on the British indie group’s 2016 album Wild World. The new single captures the energy and joy of the sold-out ‘Bastille Reorchestrated’ show for Channel Aid on 4 January 2020, when Kristjan Järvi conducted reorchestrations of Bastille songs in front of 2,100 enthusiastic fans and more than 10,000 viewers who followed a livestream of the event on YouTube.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Bastille were teaming up as part of Channel Aid’s ‘Live in Concert’ series. Channel Aid, the world’s first YouTube charity channel, is an initiative of the Hamburg-based FABS Foundation, which provides access to sports and dance activities for children and the disabled. Every view of the YouTube livestream of the concert resulted in a donation to FABS Foundation social projects. Channel Aid released a series of single videos from the concert in the days after the event. A new video to accompany the ‘Warmth Reorchestrated’ single has been released on Amazon Music Unlimited rand on the Bastille’s social media channels.

A thrilling, wildly well-received collaboration
The concert with Bastille represented a new artistic adventure for the boundary-breaking Baltic Sea Philharmonic, as it was the orchestra’s first collaboration with a major pop band. Sharing the stage with the Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling group, the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi performed specially orchestrated Bastille songs in signature Baltic Sea Philharmonic style, with a gospel choir adding an extra dimension to the sound.

The reaction on social media from concert goers and those watching the YouTube livestream was hugely enthusiastic. Comments on Facebook included: ‘This was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Being in this hall with so many incredibly talented musicians was like a wave of joy washing over me.’ Another Facebook user wrote: ‘Absolutely loved this. Such a pleasure to see the orchestra enjoying performing, and the conductor was fabulous.’

Listen to ‘Warmth’ (Live from the Elbphilharmonie with Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic) here and watch the music video here

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC AND KRISTJAN JÄRVI END 2020 WITH CONTINUING INNOVATION AND RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF THE PANDEMIC

After a year of unprecedented disruption to live performance, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi head into 2021 with a distinctive digital presence that has taken on a new dimension in the face of pandemic challenges. The orchestra’s innovative online ‘Musical Chain’ project, which launched in the summer of 2020, not only strengthened the bonds between the musicians of the orchestra, who were unable to travel and play together. It also set in motion a new creative outlet for the ensemble, with musicians and artistic collaborators coming together with professional production teams to produce strikingly original music videos that build on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s reputation as a fearless, boundary-breaking ensemble. Although the orchestra was able to tour safely and successfully in September 2020, and is carefully planning its return to the stage in 2021, ‘Musical Chain’ has become an important part of the ensemble’s identity, and will continue to develop and inspire in 2021.

2020 in review – innovation and success in the face of adversity
Before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s touring schedule for much of 2020, the orchestra started the year in spectacular style with a charity concert at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie with the pop band Bastille. The orchestra and the British indie group joined forces to headline the event on 4 January for Channel Aid, which livestreamed the performance on its YouTube charity channel. The hugely well-received concert was a sell-out, with 2,100 music fans packing the Elbphilharmonie, and more than 10,000 following the livestream on YouTube.

When the pandemic forced the cancellation of a special performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians came together virtually to record a 20-minute excerpt from the symphony’s first movement. A total of 108 musicians made their own recordings at home, and these recordings were then brought together to create a virtual orchestra performance, which premiered online on 8 May.

With their next digital initiative, ‘Musical Chain’, Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic took the virtual orchestra concept in a completely fresh direction, bringing musicians from the orchestra together with other artists and creative collaborators. ‘Musical Chain’, which launched in July 2020 and will continue in 2021 with further collaborations and special guest artists, showcases how the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is evolving to become more and more like a band, with Järvi as much producer as conductor. The project has so far featured four remix videos that reimagine iconic classical pieces: ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt; Beethoven’s Twilight’, inspired by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; ‘Ascending Swans’, based on Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ from the Swanwhite Suite; and ‘Nutty Christmas’, a fun seasonal take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. For each video, Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians recorded audio tracks at home and filmed themselves outside in atmospheric landscapes. Kristjan Järvi then mixed the audio and a professional video production team edited the final videos, which were released on the orchestra’s social media channels.

‘Musical Chain’ received wide media coverage: Northern German Broadcasting (NDR) and international blogs reported on the innovative project, and the three-country television station 3SAT broadcast ‘Nutty Christmas’ as a Christmas greeting to all its viewers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the release day of 11 December.

In September 2020 the Baltic Sea Philharmonic was able to return to the stage with a shortened ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy and Germany. Touring as a smaller ensemble of 39 musicians, the orchestra gave sell-out concerts at the Merano Music Festival and the Usedom Music Festival, performing to a total of 1,300 concert-goers. The programme took audiences on a thrilling musical voyage through the Baltic Sea region, with composers from all around the region represented. The players performed the entire 70-minute-plus programme from memory, with members of the ensemble taking the soloist roles in several pieces.

Away from the stage, Sony Classical released two recordings by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi in 2020. The first of these, which came out in May, and which features the orchestra and Swiss violinist David Nebel in Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, has been nominated for the 2021 ICMA Classical Music Awards in the concertos category. The second recording, released in November, was Sleeping Beauty, Kristjan Järvi’s innovative arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet as a dramatic symphony. This album received enthusiastic media acclaim in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and David Nebel also feature on Kristjan Järvi’s album Nordic Escapes, which was released on BMG’s Modern Recordings in August, with Järvi conducting the violinist and orchestra in his dynamic and uplifting piece Aurora.

 

Check out our YouTube channel to watch all the ‘Musical Chain’ videos, and see our concert calendar to keep up to date with our 2021 live performance schedule

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC AND KRISTJAN JÄRVI RELEASE NEW ‘MUSICAL CHAIN’ VIDEO – ‘NUTTY CHRISTMAS’

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi today release the fourth video in their innovative digital project ‘Musical Chain’. The new video, ‘Nutty Christmas’, continues the orchestra’s striking transformations and remixes of iconic classical pieces. It follows the release of ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt, ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, inspired by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and ‘Ascending Swans’, based on the ‘Song of Praise’ from Sibelius’s Swanwhite Suite. With ‘Nutty Christmas’ the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi transform the ‘Dance of the Reed Pipes’ and the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker into a unique musical Christmas cracker.

The audio for the new production was recorded by 22 musicians from the orchestra, and the video features 14 musicians, most of whom filmed themselves outside in wintery landscapes and city streets lit up by Christmas decorations. Reflecting the international make-up of the ensemble, the film takes in performances from Wroclaw, Berlin, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Belgrade, Madrid and the countryside of Finland and Lithuania. Kristjan Järvi remixed the audio and a professional production team edited the video, which captures the Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians in a fun and festive mood. ‘Nutty Christmas’ is available to watch from today on the orchestra’s social media channels.

‘Musical Chain’ – a digital evolution

A symbol of unity and solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired by the human chains formed by people across the three Baltic States in August 1989, ‘Musical Chain’ brings together musicians from across Europe in a new kind of virtual orchestra collaboration. Launched in July 2020, ‘Musical Chain’ reflects the orchestra’s boundary-breaking spirit and its dedication to communicating through digital media the energy, style and freedom of its live performances. It also highlights how the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is evolving to become more and more like a band, with Kristjan Järvi as much producer as conductor.

Musical gems recut for the 21st century
The ‘Musical Chain’ project launched with the ‘Rewritten Series’ of music remix videos, the first of which was the Grieg-inspired ‘Midnight Mood’. Released on 23 July, it features 13 musicians under the creative direction of Kristjan Järvi. The video accompanied the orchestra’s performances on the opening day of the 27th Usedom Music Festival on 19 September. The second video in the series, ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, was released on 24 September. This cutting-edge, electronics-infused take on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 features 21 musicians from the orchestra. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was part of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s recent concert programmes, in celebration of this year’s 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The third ‘Musical Chain’ video, ‘Ascending Swans’, is based on the ‘Song of Praise’ from Sibelius’s Swanwhite Suite, one of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s favourite encore pieces. The orchestra recorded the music for ‘Ascending Swans’ in Merano, Italy, in September 2020, during its ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy and Germany. Kristjan Järvi remixed the audio and, as before, a professional production team edited the video. The film features 13 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians, who recorded themselves outdoors in atmospheric landscapes, along with stunning images that celebrate the nature and landscapes of the North. ‘Ascending Swans’, ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’ and ‘Midnight Mood’ have together had more than 130,000 views on Facebook and 64,000 views on YouTube.

‘Musical Chain’ will continue in 2021 with more wide-ranging collaborations involving not only the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic but also guest artists and soloists with whom the orchestra will be performing live in 2021.

Watch ‘Nutty Christmas’ here

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC RELEASES NEW ‘MUSICAL CHAIN’ VIDEO ‒ ‘ASCENDING SWANS’

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi today release the third video in their innovative digital project ‘Musical Chain’. The new video, Ascending Swans, follows the release of ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt, and ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, inspired by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. ‘Ascending Swans’ was written and produced by Kristjan Järvi, and is based on the ‘Song of Praise’ from Sibelius’s Swanwhite Suite, one of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s favourite encore pieces. The fourth and final ‘Musical Chain’ video of 2020 will be based on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. A seasonal gift from Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the video is set for release on 11 December.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic recorded the music for ‘Ascending Swans’ in Merano, Italy, in September 2020, during its ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy and Germany. Kristjan Järvi remixed the audio and a professional production team edited the video, which features 13 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians who recorded themselves outdoors. These videos are interlaced with stunning images that celebrate the nature and landscape of the North. Calming and uplifting, elemental and spiritual, ‘Ascending Swans’ reflects the grace, purity and strength of the eponymous birds, many thousands of which migrate south from the Arctic in October and November. ‘Ascending Swans’ is available to watch from today on the orchestra’s social media channels.

‘Musical Chain’ – connections and creativity in challenging times

A symbol of unity and solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired by the human chains formed by people across the three Baltic States in August 1989, ‘Musical Chain’ brings together musicians from across Europe in a new kind of virtual orchestra collaboration. Launched in July 2020, ‘Musical Chain’ reflects the orchestra’s boundary-breaking spirit and its dedication to communicating through digital media the energy, style and freedom of its live performances. Kristjan Järvi says: ‘The pandemic put us into a situation where we’ve had to come out of our normal groove and comfort zone, our usual structures, methods and routines. Physically we can’t produce the same energy in the same room, but we’re creating a new way to convey our energy and spirit to people around the world who are inspired by what we do and the way we make music.’

Find out more about ‘Musical Chain’ in our storyboard.

Watch ‘Ascending Swans’ now on YouTube

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC MOVES PLAYER RECRUITMENT ONLINE WITH LAUNCH OF DIGITAL TALENT TOUR 2020

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic today launches its Digital Talent Tour 2020, a new programme of virtual auditions in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Talent Tour is open to applicants aged 18 to 28 who are from, or studying in, one of the ten countries around the Baltic Sea – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The orchestra is seeking musicians who share some of the same qualities and spirit that make the Baltic Sea Philharmonic unique in the orchestral world: a fearlessness, a willingness to push boundaries and embrace new levels of freedom and ways of performing, and a passion for storytelling in their music making and in their communication with audiences and their fellow musicians.

The Digital Talent Tour will have two audition rounds – a video audition round and a live digital audition in front of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi and a panel of principal players from the orchestra. Applications open today and close on 30 November. The live digital auditions will take place in the week of 18 January 2021. Successful applicants will have the chance to join the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s pool of musicians for upcoming international tours and exciting opportunities on stage, in the studio and online. Full details and regulations for the Digital Talent Tour 2020 are available on the orchestra’s website, www.bmef.eu/digitaltalenttour2020.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic constantly strives to refresh and expand its pool of outstanding musicians, and was set to run its Talent Tour 2020 audition programme alongside its planned ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Poland, Germany and Russia in June and July 2020. When that tour was postponed to March 2021 because of the pandemic, far from standing still, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic immediately started to develop innovative digital projects and solutions. The Digital Talent Tour follows the success of digital projects such as ‘Musical Chain’, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi’s ongoing series of cutting-edge classical music remix videos, which launched in July.

A new kind of virtual audition from the Baltic Sea Philharmonic
The Digital Talent Tour will combine video and online technology with an in-person audition. After submitting a short video audition to be assessed by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic principals and Kristjan Järvi, successful applicants will be invited to a live video audition consisting of an interview and a performance of an excerpt from the orchestra’s past and future repertoire. Candidates will be expected to perform this excerpt from memory, as playing by heart has become a trademark of Baltic Sea Philharmonic concerts, and is just one of the many ways in which the orchestra is shaking up the classical music world.

Principal violist Marzena Malinowska from Poland explains the philosophy behind the Digital Talent Tour 2020 auditions: ‘We are trying to get players out of their comfort zone – not in search of failure or perfection, but to see who they really are as people. We let them show and share their passion, and then we ask them to do things they might have thought they couldn’t do, to show that crossing mental boundaries is fun. Maybe our approach on the Digital Talent Tour 2020 will make a little change in the musicians’ world, a world in which we all deal with self-doubt and self-judgement. Because there is no right and wrong in music – only fun and freedom.’

Empowering musicians on every level
With the Digital Talent Tour, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is giving musicians from all across the Baltic Sea region a chance to showcase their musical talent and artistic personality at a time when performance opportunities have been drastically reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In common with the orchestra’s other digital initiatives of recent months, the Digital Talent Tour aims to connect, unite and empower musicians in the face of a challenging landscape for the performing arts.

The audition process not only allows candidates to discover new possibilities in their playing and tap into different aspects of their identity as performers. It also empowers the Baltic Sea Philharmonic principals on the audition panel. These experienced members can continue to develop their leadership and mentoring skills, and, by helping to assess and interview their peers, play a key role in shaping and developing the unique personality of the orchestra as a whole.

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SONY CLASSICAL TO RELEASE NEW BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC ALBUM SLEEPING BEAUTY ON 13 NOVEMBER 2020

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s latest album Sleeping Beauty will be released on 13 November. The new Sony Classical recording sees Kristjan Järvi conducting the orchestra in his own arrangement of Tchaikovksy’s fairytale ballet Sleeping Beauty. Condensing and transforming the near three-hour score into a dramatic symphony of around 70 minutes, Järvi gives new life to this most iconic of theatre music compositions. The musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed this version of Sleeping Beauty entirely from memory during their March 2019 ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia, and the album was recorded in St. Petersburg at the end of the tour. Playing the score by heart transformed the musicians into storytellers who felt like they were telling the fairytale for the first time.

As well as releasing the complete album on 13 November, Sony will release three singles showcasing celebrated moments and characters from the ballet – ‘Pas d’action: Desiré sees Aurora’ (9 October), ‘Garland Waltz’ (23 October), and ‘The Blue Bird and Princess Florine’ (9 November).

From ballet to dramatic symphony

The new album follows in the spirit of Järvi’s previous Tchaikovsky releases on Sony – The Snow Maiden and Swan Lake – in reshaping sublime fairytale pieces for contemporary audiences. Järvi believes that masterworks such as Sleeping Beauty have lost some of their appeal in the theatre world with the evolution of technology. ‘Great music will always remain great music,’ he says, ‘but it constantly needs to be updated and modernised, not only interpreted. Making a dramatic symphony from a ballet is a step in this direction of constant reinvention.’

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is the perfect partner for Järvi’s enterprising reinvention of Tchaikovsky’s music. The ensemble is constantly renewing the musical heritage of the Nordic lands around the Baltic Sea, and furthermore is reimagining what an orchestra can be in today’s society. Challenging classical music conventions, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic creates unique concert experiences that fuse sound, light, visual art and technology, and performs entire programmes from memory, with the musicians able to stand, move and interact more freely with each other, the conductor and the audience.

Storytelling and the art of memorisation

The musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic were no strangers to memorising complex scores when they started working on Järvi’s version of Sleeping Beauty ahead of the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour in early 2019. However, for many of the players, this was the longest piece of music they had ever memorised. Adding to the challenge posed by the music’s duration, some of the many sections in Järvi’s adaptation were unlabelled in the score, offering the players no mental connection with characters or moments from the ballet. However, Polish principal violist Marzena Malinowska came up with a solution that helped both her and other musicians in the orchestra memorise the complete score. ‘I knew I needed to make more connections and signposts in the score to be able to memorise the music,’ she says. ‘So I added titles for the untitled sections, sourcing them from the original fairytale but mostly from the ballet itself. Adding in the names of dances, or of the other fairytale characters from Act III, helped complete the picture in my mind, and gave me a route to follow.’

Memorising the score and playing it by heart turned the musicians into storytellers who felt like they were telling this famous fairytale for the first time. ‘Performing from memory changed our relationship with Tchaikovsky’s music,’ says Malinowska. ‘When you’re playing ballets and operas in an orchestra you’re usually hidden in the pit, and the stars of the show are the dancers or singers, who are responsible for telling the story and making it strong. We knew it was our responsibility to be the storytellers. In that moment you feel incredibly connected to each other on stage, and to the audience. And you feel creative: you don’t feel that you’re recreating something that has been done hundreds of times already.’

A burgeoning Sony Classical discography

Sleeping Beauty joins the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s growing discography on Sony Classical. The orchestra and Järvi’s first recording for the label, released in September 2016, was The Ring: An Orchestral Adventure, an arrangement for orchestra of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. In May of this year Sony Classical released an album of Stravinsky and Glass violin concertos featuring the young Swiss violinist David Nebel in his debut concerto recording, with Järvi conducting the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto in D major and the London Symphony Orchestra in Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Gramophone praised Nebel’s interpretation of the Stravinsky and the energetic playing of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, with the magazine’s reviewer concluding: ‘This is a tremendously impressive debut album, and the Stravinsky performance is among the very best.’    

Listen to the first single ‘Pas d’Action: Desiré sees Aurora’ here.

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC AND KRISTJAN JÄRVI RELEASE NEW ‘MUSICAL CHAIN’ VIDEO – ‘BEETHOVEN’S TWILIGHT’

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have released ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, the second video in their innovative digital project ‘Musical Chain’. The new video is part of the orchestra’s ‘Rewritten Series’ of music videos featuring striking transformations of iconic classical pieces, and follows the release on 23 July of ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt.

A cutting-edge, electronics-infused take on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’ features 21 musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The players made recordings at home under the creative direction of Kristjan Järvi, who then mixed the tracks and produced the final audio. The video is unlike any other orchestral production: the musicians filmed themselves performing outside in atmospheric landscapes, and these scenes are intercut with emotive scenes of love, loss, pain and peace, along with elemental images of nature, cities and space. A professional production team edited the film, creating a dynamic and captivating video that reinvents the 1980s MTV aesthetic for the YouTube generation. ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’ is available to watch from today on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s social media channels.

‘Musical Chain’ – connections and creativity in challenging times
A symbol of unity and solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired by the human chains formed by people across the three Baltic States in August 1989, ‘Musical Chain’ brings together musicians from across Europe in a new kind of virtual orchestra collaboration. Launched in July, when the Baltic Sea Philharmonic would have been touring Poland, Germany and Russia were it not for the pandemic, ‘Musical Chain’ reflects the orchestra’s boundary-breaking spirit and its dedication to communicating through digital media the energy, style and freedom of its live performances.

‘Rewritten Series’ – musical gems recut for the 21st century
The ‘Rewritten Series’ will involve at least 60 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians in total by the end of this year. The first video, the Grieg-inspired ‘Midnight Mood’, featured 13 musicians. Since its release on 23 July, ‘Midnight Mood’ has had over 30,000 views on Facebook and more than 20,000 views on YouTube. ‘Midnight Mood’ was also performed live with a full orchestra on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy and Germany earlier this month. In addition, the video of ‘Midnight Mood’ accompanied the orchestra’s performance on the opening day of the 27th Usedom Music Festival on 19 September, when Kristjan Järvi and an ensemble of 14 musicians, who were replacing Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek at short notice, showcased their own unique take on jazz. The Ostsee-Zeitung praised the performance as ‘art at the highest level, enchanting and accurate to the point’.

Music by Beethoven was also part of the orchestra’s recent concert programmes, and for Kristjan Järvi, the opportunity to celebrate in live performance and with ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’ this year’s 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth could not be more important given the global challenges today. He says: ‘In our orchestra we have chosen to come together from many different Baltic Sea countries, overlooking all of our histories and differences and embracing our unity at a time when the world seems to be lacking in humanity. We are trying to escape and come together in something that is truly a vehicle of togetherness and love. We are celebrating Beethoven’s legacy this year, and he was somebody who stood for all these same things over 200 years ago.’

The next video in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Rewritten Series’ will be Kristjan Järvi’s take on Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ from Swanwhite, a piece that has become one of the orchestra’s favourite encores. This video is set for release in November.

Watch ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’ now on YouTube

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