The Baltic Sea Philharmonic continues to face an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Owing to travel restrictions and bans on large public gatherings, the orchestra has sadly had to postpone its first major tour of 2020, ‘Midnight Sun’. Originally planned to run from 20 June to 1 July, with concerts in Szczecin (Poland) and Berlin, at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Germany, and in St. Petersburg and Chelyabinsk in Russia, the tour has been rescheduled for March 2021. ‘Midnight Sun’ concerts will now take place in Szczecin on 12 March, at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg on 14 March, and in Berlin on 15 March.
While the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi are still scheduled to undertake their ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Germany, Italy and Sweden in September 2020, the orchestra is constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and consulting regularly with concert presenters. But the orchestra is not silently waiting for live performances to resume. Beginning this month, it will launch a range of innovative online projects showcasing the creativity, the musical energy, and the solidarity of this unique international ensemble. From Music for Peace, a virtual orchestra of 108 musicians performing Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony, to Musical Chain, a series of musical-chain performances featuring members of the orchestra and artistic collaborators, Kristjan and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will use technology to bring the unique atmosphere of their live performances into homes around the world.
‘Midnight Sun’ to shine again in 2021
‘Midnight Sun’ is a spectacular reinvention of the concert experience, inspired by the Nordic summertime phenomenon of the never-setting sun. The programme features an eclectic selection of works by composers including Rautavaara, Pärt, Kristjan Järvi, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. With no music stands on stage, and the musicians able to stand and move and interact with each other, the orchestra uses memorisation and choreography to achieve a remarkable freedom and energy in performance. When ‘Midnight Sun’ debuted in Berlin in 2019, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic was acclaimed by audiences and critics for the originality of its presentation, with the musicians praised for the commitment and joy of their playing. Although this year’s tour sadly cannot go ahead, ‘Midnight Sun’ will return in March 2021 with three performances in Poland and Germany; further performances in this period may be possible, but are not yet confirmed. Tickets already purchased for the 23 June 2020 ‘Midnight Sun’ performance at the Berlin Philharmonie will be valid for the new Berlin date (on 15 March 2021), or they can be returned for refunds.
New online projects offer light in dark times
Until the orchestra can once again perform on stage, it will take its musical mission of international collaboration online, with a series of innovative digital projects. The first of these is Music for Peace, an ambitious 15-minute ‘virtual orchestra’ performance of an excerpt from the first movement of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, the ‘Leningrad’. Produced in collaboration with the Open Sea Foundation to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, Music for Peace will premiere online on 8 May. In place of a live performance of the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony that was set to take place at the Berlin Konzerthaus on 9 May, the new digital production brings together sound and video recordings made by 108 musicians in their homes.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi, in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, are also working on another new digital project called Musical Chain, to be launched in early summer. This dedicated online campaign 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 across the three Baltic states. Musical Chain will feature musicians from the Baltic Sea Philharmonic joining with creative collaborators for a series of musical-chain videos, in which, for example, a piece of music is transformed by one performer after another, or new pieces are composed by different musicians on the same theme.
‘Midnight Sun’ – March 2021
Friday, 12 March 2021, 8pm, Szczecin (Philharmonie), Poland
Sunday, 14 March 2021, 8pm, Hamburg (Elbphilharmonie), Germany
Monday, 15 March 2020, 8.30pm, Berlin (Philharmonie), Germany
Baltic Sea Philharmonic &
Programme to include music by Rautavaara, Pärt, Kristjan Järvi, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky