This past year has been a special one for the Baltic Sea Philharmonia. In a year when the orchestra celebrated its tenth anniversary, there were plenty of memorable highlights, including a first ever tour outside Europe, a public commendation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and an entire concert performed from memory. Now the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi can reveal their exciting programmes and touring plans for 2019. Three concert tours – ‘Nordic Pulse’, ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Divine Geometry’ – will feature collaborations with violinists Mari Samuelsen and David Nebel and pianist Simone Dinnerstein, and will take the Baltic Sea Philharmonic to some of Europe’s most renowned concert halls, including Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the concert hall of the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, the Berlin Philharmonie, and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
‘Nordic Pulse’ – music of light and magic
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of the Baltic States, Finland and Russia in March 2019 features concerts in three European capitals – Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki – as well as Russia’s second largest city, St Petersburg. The programme begins with Kristjan Järvi’s Aurora, a piece inspired by the Northern Lights, and ends with music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty. Kristjan has arranged a concert suite from Tchaikovsky’s magical score, which the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will perform from memory.
Swiss violinist David Nebel will join the orchestra to perform Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto and Pēteris Vasks’s ‘Lonely Angel’, a ‘meditation’ for violin and string orchestra. The ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert in Helsinki will underline the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s commitment to the environment: one Euro from each ticket purchased will go to the John Nurminen Foundation, a Finnish organisation that promotes projects dedicated to a clean Baltic Sea.
‘Midnight Sun’ – a celebration of nature and Nordic unity
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Germany in June and July 2019 is inspired by the phenomenon of the sun never setting at night. ‘It’s a phenomenon that only the populations of the far north are favoured with,’ says Kristjan. ‘It unites Nordic communities, and with this musical programme we are proclaiming a message of Nordic unity.’
The ‘Midnight Sun’ programme opens with Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus, his concerto for birds and orchestra that features taped birdsong recorded around the Arctic Circle and in the marshlands of Liminka in northern Finland. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen then joins the orchestra to perform four works: Kristjan’s Aurora, in a version for violin and orchestra; Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, a classic example of his ‘tintinnabuli’ style; Pēteris Vasks’s ‘Lonely Angel’; and Dona Nobis Pacem by Max Richter. ‘Midnight Sun’ climaxes with Stravinsky’s 1945 orchestral version of his great ballet The Firebird. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic will perform the entire programme from memory, bringing a thrilling extra dimension to these scores.
‘Divine Geometry’ – connecting past and present, Baroque and minimalism
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi explore the past and present through two distinct musical eras in ‘Divine Geometry’, a new programme that the orchestra will perform in Merano, Italy, and at the Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde, Germany, in September 2019. Contemporary arrangements of music by Baroque masters Bach and Handel share the programme with American minimalist Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Pianist Simone Dinnerstein, who premiered this concerto in September 2017, will be the soloist again for these performances with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic.
The ‘Divine Geometry’ concert at the Usedom Music Festival will also feature the German premiere of a major new work by another great American minimalist, Steve Reich: his ‘Music for Ensemble and Orchestra’ was co-commissioned by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
2018 in review
A ‘Waterworks’ tour of the United Arab Emirates in November 2018 crowned the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s tenth-anniversary year. It was the ensemble’s first ever tour outside Europe, and was the first tour on which the orchestra performed all its music from memory. The groundbreaking immersive ‘Waterworks’ experience, presented in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, thrilled more than 2,800 listeners at the Dubai Opera and the sold-out Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. The programme included Handel’s Water Music and water-inspired works by Charles Coleman, David Rozenblatt and Philip Glass.
In September the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi toured Italy, Germany and Poland with ‘Nordic Pulse’, a programme celebrating the tenth anniversary of the orchestra and 100 years since the declarations of independence by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland. The programme featured music by composers from all five countries, and the orchestra performed Kristjan’s arrangement of Sibelius’s The Tempest concert suite and the first movement of the ‘Rock’ Symphony by Latvian composer Imants Kalniņš entirely from memory.
A sold-out ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert at the Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde attracted 1,300 people, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in her opening speech praised the ‘depth and elegance’ of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and said: ‘The members of the orchestra embody international understanding; they use music as a timeless language that can be understood across borders.’