The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have completed a landmark tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour, which featured performances in Abu Dhabi on 11 November and Dubai on 14 November for over 2,800 people, was its first concert tour outside Europe and the final tour of its tenth-anniversary year. In another first for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the entire programme was performed from memory at both concerts.
‘Waterworks’: from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf
The historic tour of the UAE involved 60 musicians, who came together in Germany for three days of intensive rehearsals before making the 6,500 km journey to Abu Dhabi. The orchestra’s revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ programme, presented in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, brought a new dimension to the concert experience for audiences at the Dubai Opera and a sold-out Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. State-of-the-art lighting by Bertil Mark, sound design by Chris Ekers and cutting-edge projection art by Philipp Geist created an immersive environment in which sound and music were fused with light and images.
The water-inspired musical programme brought together selections from Handel’s Water Music with a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. Handel’s music was framed by two contemporary pieces, Drenched by Charles Coleman and Flux by David Rozenblatt. The concert in Dubai also featured Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’, performed by Russian-born soloist Mikhail Simonyan. For both concerts, the orchestra was joined by three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble: trumpet player Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes, and percussionist and Flux composer David Rozenblatt.
Championing memorised performances has given the Baltic Sea Philharmonic a unique identity in recent years. Having made history in 2017 by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory, the ensemble took playing by heart to a new level on its tour of the UAE by performing the entire concert programme from memory.
Audience members praised the orchestra’s performances, with Julie Adrienne Troup, who attended the concert in Abu Dhabi, commenting afterwards on Facebook: ‘A performance of mesmerising inspirational beauty that resonated with us. Wow!’ Another Abu Dhabi concert goer, Grace S. Thomson, wrote on Facebook: ‘It was spectacular. Young musicians and a beautiful selection of masterpieces. We loved it!’
New partnership with UAE Ministry for Culture and Knowledge Development
The orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour marked the start of a strategic collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, one of the tour’s principal supporters. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and the Ministry anticipate that this successful tour will lay the ground for future cultural collaborations between the Baltic Sea countries and the United Arab Emirates. As a celebration of the new partnership, Emirati singer Jasim Mohamed Abdullah joined the orchestra at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace to perform the traditional song ‘Sayyidi ya sayyed saddati’. The concert in Abu Dhabi was attended by the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi.
A return to the Baltics in March 2019
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic will begin its eleventh year of international touring in March 2019 with ‘Nordic Pulse’, a tour of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia. Kristjan Järvi will conduct the orchestra in a programme including a memorised performance of his arrangement of the concert suite from Tchaikovsky’s great ballet The Sleeping Beauty.
See our Facebook page for concert photos and behind-the-scenes video from the ‘Waterworks’ tour of the UAE