Project opens with ‘Rewritten Series’ featuring transformations of iconic pieces by Grieg, Beethoven and Sibelius

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi are launching a unique online music project called ‘Musical Chain’ on 23 July. A symbol of unity and solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Musical Chain’ brings together musicians from across Europe in a new kind of virtual orchestra collaboration. The project begins with the ‘Rewritten Series’ – four strikingly original music videos featuring transformations and remixes of iconic classical pieces. The first of these, ‘Midnight Mood’, based on ‘Morning Mood’ from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, is available to watch from 23 July on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s social media channels. Further videos in the series, including music from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ from the Swanwhite Suite, will be released over the coming weeks.

Amid an unprecedented situation of lockdowns and concert cancellations, ‘Musical Chain’ is a powerful way of strengthening solidarity and community, both among the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic itself and among music lovers throughout Europe. The project is inspired by historic human chains, such as the Baltic Way, which was a peaceful political demonstration on 23 August 1989 when around two million people joined hands to form a human chain stretching more than 600km across the three Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi would have been on their ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Poland, Germany and Russia at the beginning of July. With the tour postponed to March 2021, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has transferred its activity online and, in keeping with its boundary-breaking spirit, is exploring new ways of communicating through digital media the energy, style and freedom of its live performances. Already the orchestra has created one of the most ambitious virtual orchestra videos of its kind, with a 20-minute recording of music from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, featuring 108 musicians in 18 countries, which premiered on 8 May. Now, with ‘Musical Chain’, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is developing its own unique way of coming together to create new music from classic compositions. Kristjan Järvi says: ‘The pandemic has put us into a situation where we have to come out of our normal groove and comfort zone, our usual structures, methods and routines. We have to create a completely new reason for being, and ask ourselves why we do what we do. 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.’

The ‘Rewritten Series’ will involve at least 60 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians in total. The first video, ‘Midnight Mood’, features 13 musicians. For each video, the musicians will make recordings at home based on themes and musical ideas from the original piece, and then the audio tracks will be combined and remixed by Kristjan Järvi, in his role as producer of the ‘Musical Chain’ project. The resulting recordings will be released as videos on Youtube and eventually as audio tracks on Spotify.

The pieces in the ‘Rewritten Series’ each have a special resonance for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ is one of the orchestra’s signature encores, and Beethoven, whose 250th anniversary is being celebrated this year, also features regularly on the orchestra’s programmes. Music from Grieg’s Peer Gynt is part of the programme for the orchestra’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour, which is scheduled to go ahead this September with concerts in Germany and Italy, and the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour in March 2021. Following the release of ‘Midnight Mood’, the remaining instalments of the ‘Rewritten Series’ will go live over the coming weeks, taking the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi up to the moment when they plan to be back together on stage again, performing ‘Nordic Pulse’ at the Merano Music Festival on 10 September and the Usedom Music Festival on 12 September.

On the occasion of the German EU Council Presidency, ‘Musical Chain – Unifying Europe Through Music’ is supported by Germany’s Minister of State for Culture and the Media.

Watch the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Midnight Mood’ video from 23 July on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram