The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has opened its landmark tenth season of international touring with concerts at the Kissinger Sommer music festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany. Under the baton of Kristjan Järvi, the orchestra made its debut at the prestigious Bavarian music festival on 7 July with a new programme called ‘Nordic Pulse’, which showcases music by composers from the Baltic Sea region. Then on 9 July the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed its unique ‘Waterworks’ programme in a spectacular concert presentation featuring cutting-edge lighting and sound design in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions. Bavarian public-service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk recorded both performances for radio broadcast on 30 July (‘Waterworks’) and a future date (‘Nordic Pulse’). The orchestra’s stay in Bad Kissingen also included a special ‘Waterworks’ school concert for more than 600 children.
‘Nordic Pulse’: a celebration of freedom
The ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert at the Kissinger Sommer festival was a foretaste of the orchestra’s major ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour this September. In Bad Kissingen the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed works by the Estonian-born Kristjan Järvi, the contemporary Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas, and Tchaikovsky. The concert opened with Kristjan’s Aurora, a piece inspired by the iconic Northern Lights, and closed with his arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty. A live recording of the orchestra’s performance of Kristjan’s arrangement is set to be released later this year.
The centrepiece of the ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert was the world premiere of Gediminas’s Violin Concerto, with its dedicatee, Swiss violinist David Nebel, as soloist. Speaking after the performance, David was full of praise for his collaborators: ‘I couldn’t imagine anyone else partnering me in this work but Kristjan and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The concerto is a brilliant piece and I’m so proud of everyone who supported me in this performance and the rehearsal process.’
The orchestra’s playing made a big impression on the reviewer for the Würzburg-based Main-Post, who wrote: ‘This ensemble of young, outstanding musicians from ten countries bordering the Baltic Sea can only be described as excellent. Compact, powerful, graceful and filigree, warmly shimmering in the overall sound, here was music played with dedication, concentration and passion, and of course with great skill.’
Return of the revolutionary ‘Waterworks’
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic won acclaim in 2017 for its water-inspired concert presentation ‘Waterworks’, a bold new fusion of music, light, visual art and sound design in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions. The orchestra brought ‘Waterworks’ to Bad Kissingen on 9 July with a programme of original arrangements of Handel’s Water Music and a new orchestral version of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia, a piece inspired by the Amazon river and its tributaries. The Kissinger Sommer audience had never experienced anything quite like this immersive symphonic production, and the orchestra’s powerful performance, in combination with Bertil Mark’s lighting design and Holger Schwark’s sound engineering, thrilled concert goers and critics alike.
The Main-Post reviewer summed up the joyful atmosphere at the end of the concert, when Kristjan got the audience joining in with an encore of the Aguas da Amazonia finale: ‘Hundreds of people, of all ages, standing and cheering, dancing and singing, clapping rhythms and waving their arms… No, this wasn’t Woodstock on Monday evening; this was the venerable Max-Littmann-Saal in tranquil Bad Kissingen!’
Kristjan said after the ‘Waterworks’ performance: ‘This project is inspired by water, and in particular by something that’s absolutely precious to the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, and that’s the Baltic Sea itself. It’s our sea, our water, the key to our life and our existence. We want to share that inspiration with our audience, and I’m delighted to see that people were enthralled by tonight’s performance.’
‘Waterworks’ school concert inspires next generation
On the morning of 9 July in Bad Kissingen the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed an hour-long school concert for more than 600 children aged 6 to 18, featuring selections from the main ‘Waterworks’ programme. Two musicians from the orchestra, double bassist Miranda Erlich and violist Maximilian Procop, moderated the concert. Audience member Rüdiger Wiesenhütter, a music teacher at the Friedrich-List-Gymnasium in Gemünden am Main, praised the orchestra’s commitment and passion on Facebook: ‘My students and I loved the concert. The Handel was awesome and very clean. And Aguas da Amazonia really was impressive. Everyone could immediately feel the enthusiasm of the musicians and their love for music.’
‘Nordic Pulse’ tour to Italy, Germany and Poland
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s major ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour will take place this September as a double celebration. It marks ten years since the orchestra’s creation and 100 years of independence for the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Finland and Poland. The tour begins on 17 September in Italy at the Merano Music Festival. The orchestra then travels to Germany, where it will play in Munich, Halle (Saale) and at the Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde. The tour concludes on 24 September in Gdańsk, Poland. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen will join the orchestra for a programme of music by Arvo Pärt, Kristjan Järvi, Gediminas Gelgotas, Wojciech Kilar, Imants Kalniņš and Sibelius. The second half of the programme will be performed entirely from memory.