Reduced-size orchestra gathers for rehearsals in Bad Schussenried ahead of concerts at Merano Music Festival and Usedom Music Festival

After many months of not being able to come together and play, musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic are once again rehearsing for a new tour. Around 40 musicians have gathered in Bad Schussenried, a spa town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to rehearse the programme for their ‘Nordic Pulse’ concerts with Kristjan Järvi at the Merano Music Festival on 10 September and the Usedom Music Festival on 12 September.

COVID-19 restrictions mean that the orchestra will be touring as a smaller ensemble, and also that some of the planned ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour concerts have had to be postponed to 2021. But the palpable excitement of the musicians in Bad Schussenried at being able to play live together again after so long guarantees that the concerts, which are already sold out, will create the same thrill and joy that the Baltic Sea Philharmonic brings to all its performances.

The ‘Nordic Pulse’ programme will be an innovative celebration of the North, with works by composers from all the Baltic Sea countries, including Beethoven from Germany, Nielsen from Denmark, and Górecki from Poland. In trademark Baltic Sea Philharmonic style, the musicians will perform the entire programme from memory, and, in another characteristic innovation, players from the orchestra will be featured soloists. Shining a spotlight on the ensemble’s soloistic talent reflects Kristjan Järvi’s conviction that the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has truly become an ensemble of soloists. In its necessarily more compact form for the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour, with nearly all the players standing and free to move and interact without the limitations of stands and sheet music, the orchestra will certainly look and feel like an ensemble of soloists.

In a further showcase of the musicians’ individual talents, principal violist Marzena Malinowska from Poland has been mentoring other players in memorising the music for the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour. She has previously helped the orchestra to memorise complex scores, and her idea of adding titles for untitled music sections in Kristjan Järvi’s version of Tchaikovsky’s fairytale ballet The Sleeping Beauty helped players memorise this demanding 70-minute dramatic symphony, the orchestra’s new recording of which comes out on Sony Classical next month. For the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour, Malinowska produced a video guide for the musicians, explaining tried-and-tested memorisation strategies. Acting as a memorisation mentor is just one of the ways that experienced players such as Malinowska, a member of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic since 2012, are helping newer members of the ensemble. As new members learn new skills and have their minds opened to the rewards of performing orchestral works from memory, so the principals develop their leadership and mentoring experience, renewing and evolving the orchestra at the same time.
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