The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will tour Germany and Austria this summer with ‘Midnight Sun’, an exciting new programme that the orchestra will perform entirely from memory. Joined by violin soloist Mari Samuelsen and special guest artist Mick Pedaja, the orchestra will return to the Berlin Philharmonie on 26 June and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on 2 July, and will also perform for the first time in Ossiach, Austria, on 29 June, at the Carinthian Music Academy. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic last performed at the Philharmonie in Berlin in 2014, and made a spectacular debut at the Elbphilharmonie in August 2017 with ‘Waterworks’, its immersive concert show in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions. Tickets for this summer’s Elbphilharmonie concert sold out in just eleven minutes.
‘Midnight Sun’ – magical Arctic soundscapes
‘Midnight Sun’ is a celebration of nature and Nordic unity. The phenomenon of the sun never setting at night is experienced around the time of the summer solstice in the far north of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia and other countries that straddle the Arctic Circle. ‘It’s a phenomenon that only the populations of the north are favoured with,’ says Kristjan Järvi. ‘It unites Nordic communities, and with this musical programme we are bringing that message of Nordic unity also to Germany and Austria.’
‘Midnight Sun’ opens with a special collaboration between the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Mick Pedaja, an Estonian singer-songwriter whose nature-inspired songs have a mystical quality and a powerful sense of Nordic landscape. Following his debut with the orchestra on its ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour in March 2019, Mick returns to sing songs from his albums Hingake/Breathe and Avaimus, specially arranged for orchestra by US composer Charles Coleman.
After this unique opening, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performs Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus, his concerto for birds and orchestra that features taped birdsong recorded around the Arctic Circle and in the marshlands of northern Finland. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen, who made her debut with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on its 2018 ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour, then performs four works with the orchestra, beginning with Kristjan’s Aurora, which is inspired by the magical lights of the aurora borealis. In Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, the violinist plays solo variations over strings and percussion, combining virtuosic thrills with serene lyricism. A meditative quality imbues Pēteris Vasks’s second violin concerto Vientuļais Eņģelis (Lonely Angel), and the orchestra’s final piece with Mari, Max Richter’s Dona Nobis Pacem, builds from quiet contemplation to powerful climax in an emotion-packed few minutes.
‘Midnight Sun’ climaxes with more magical light, this time courtesy of the mythical Firebird of Russian folklore, in the form of Stravinsky’s 1945 version of his great ballet The Firebird.
Playing by heart
In 2017 the Baltic Sea Philharmonic made history by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform The Firebird from memory. Performing without sheet music has since become a trademark of the ensemble, and this summer the orchestra will play the entire ‘Midnight Sun’ programme by heart. The concerts in Berlin and Hamburg will furthermore be performed with no interval, allowing the memorised music to flow almost seamlessly for around 100 minutes. Playing by heart intensifies the connection between the players, bringing them closer together, and is a natural reflection of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s mission to unite people across the whole Nordic region.
Recruiting new talent
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic regularly auditions the best and brightest young musicians from across the Baltic Sea region in order to renew and refresh its pool of outstanding players. In March, during the orchestra’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of the Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia, the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation launched its Talent Tour 2019 with open auditions in Palanga, Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg. The Talent Tour will continue during the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour with an audition day in Berlin on 25 June. Applicants will perform solo in front of a panel comprising Kristjan and principal musicians from the orchestra, and in a special second round the applicants will have the chance to join a full orchestra rehearsal. The deadline for applications is 15 May. Full details are available here.
‘Midnight Sun’ Tour
Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 8.00 pm, Berlin (Philharmonie), Germany
Saturday, 29 June 2019, 8.00 pm, Ossiach (Carinthian Music Academy), Austria
Tuesday, 2 July 2019, 8.00 pm, Hamburg (Elbphilharmonie), Germany
Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Cantus Arcticus Op. 61
Aurora for violin and orchestra
Fratres for violin, percussion and string orchestra
Vientuļais Eņģelis (Lonely Angel), Meditation for violin and string orchestra
Dona Nobis Pacem
The Firebird (1945)