The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi completed a special anniversary tour of Italy, Germany and Poland with a concert in Gdańsk on 24 September. The 15-day ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour was a double celebration for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, marking ten years since the orchestra’s creation and also the 100th anniversary of independence for the three Baltic States, Finland and Poland. Composers from all five countries were represented on the programme: Wojciech Kilar from Poland; Lithuanian Gediminas Gelgotas; Arvo Pärt and Kristjan Järvi from Estonia; Finland’s greatest composer Jean Sibelius; and Imants Kalniņš from Latvia.
The orchestra reinforced its commitment to memorised performance by playing a special arrangement by Kristjan of the concert suite from Sibelius’s The Tempest – as well as the first movement of Kalniņš’s ‘Rock’ Symphony and two encores – completely by heart. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen made her debut with the orchestra in Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and Kristjan’s violin concerto Aurora.
‘Nordic Pulse’ – a vibrant journey through Europe
The orchestra’s 65 musicians prepared for ‘Nordic Pulse’ with five days of intensive rehearsals in the Bavarian village of Pielenhofen. They then set off on an ten-day tour during which they would travel more than 1,800 km across Europe and perform to around 4,000 concert goers. The opening concert in Merano, Italy, on 17 September, was the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s third appearance at the Merano Music Festival. The following evening the orchestra made its debut in Munich, performing in the Bavarian capital’s beautiful Hercules Hall. Staying in Germany, the orchestra performed in Halle (Saale) on 20 September, in a concert in memory of the late former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
The orchestra next gave the opening concert of the 25th Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde on 22 September. The sold-out concert was attended by 1,300 people, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in her opening address praised the orchestra’s ‘depth and elegance’ and recognised its contribution to uniting people across the Baltic Sea region: ‘The members of the orchestra embody international understanding; they use music as a timeless language that can be understood across borders.’
The Peenemünde concert was streamed live to 5,000 viewers on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s Facebook page, and was also recorded by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) for broadcast shortly. The orchestra’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour ended with a concert at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Polish state.
Critical and public acclaim
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s signature memorised performances made a striking impression on both critics and concert goers alike. In his review of the Munich concert for the online music magazine KlassikInfo, Klaus Kalchschmid wrote: ‘Free to move and express themselves physically, without the restriction of chairs and music stands, every musician performed visually as well as sonically. They gave an inspired performance, and were 100 per cent in the music while still connecting with the audience in the hall. Järvi himself was electrifying as conductor.’
Debora Nischler, a concert goer who was in the audience in Merano, commented on Facebook afterwards: ‘It is great that you have the courage to go beyond the limits and conventions of a classical music performance. Now the last step is to transform the concert into a true standing concert – not just on stage but also for the audience. Believe me, it’s hard to stay in your seat and keep that “I’m at a cultural event so I have to behave seriously” expression when every inch of your body is vibrating.’
Still more to come in 2018
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has one more special tour which will cap its landmark tenth year: in November 2018 the orchestra will make its first ever tour of the United Arab Emirates, where in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions it will perform its groundbreaking ‘Waterworks’ programme in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
See our Facebook page for concert videos, performance shots and behind-the-scenes photos from the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour