The Baltic Sea Philharmonic made a memorable debut at the Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia this month, performing four concerts in as many days. This year’s 12th edition of the festival (13–22 July) in the seaside resort town of Pärnu is celebrating the 85th birthday of Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi, who conducted the festival’s opening concert. The Järvi family have been reunited at the Pärnu Music Festival, with Paavo Järvi conducting the Estonian Festival Orchestra and Kristjan Järvi conducting the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. In addition to performing a spectacular ‘Nordic Amazonia’ concert on 15 July, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic gave three masterclass concerts in Laulasmaa, Tallinn and Pärnu, with conducting students from the Järvi Academy.
Big birthdays and budding conductors
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Nordic Amazonia’ concert experience at the sold-out Pärnu Concert Hall was a double celebration, marking both the 85th birthday of American minimalist Philip Glass and the 50th birthday of Kristjan Järvi, the orchestra’s Founding Conductor and Artistic Director. Kristjan conducted the ensemble of 49 musicians in a programme comprising Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia and pieces by Kristjan from his 2020 album Nordic Escapes, including Nebula, Aurora and In Horizons. The orchestra was joined by Swiss violinist David Nebel, and the musicians performed the music in signature Baltic Sea Philharmonic style – completely from memory, and as a single continuous flow of music with no intermission. Atmospheric lighting, sound design and choreography created an electrifying concert experience, with the musicians moving and dancing on stage and finally exiting the hall still dancing amid standing ovations from the excited audience. The concert was livestreamed and is available to watch on Pärnu Music Festival TV.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic also had an important role at the Pärnu Music Festival supporting the education of young musicians selected for the Järvi Academy, which is an inseparable part of the festival. The international group of ten students on this year’s Järvi Academy conducting course had coaching sessions with Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi and Leonid Grin, and took part in three Masterclass Concerts with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The first of these was at the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa on 12 July, and featured music by the renowned Estonian composer. Two more masterclass concerts with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic took place in Tallinn (12 July) and Pärnu (14 July), both featuring music by Ravel, Stravinsky and Bartók. All three concerts were livestreamed.
Returning to Estonia in August and September
Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will be back in Tallinn on 12 August for the orchestra’s debut at the Birgitta Festival, a music theatre festival that was first held in 2005. At an open-air concert in the historic ruins of the Pirita Convent, the orchestra will perform Kristjan’s suite from Sibelius’s masterful theatre music for The Tempest by William Shakespeare. In a performance co-created with the orchestra members, the musicians will be performing both music and text, and the concert will be accompanied by special lighting and sound design. As well as the music from The Tempest, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will also perform pieces by Kristjan, including Midnight Sun, Aurora and Frozen Tears.
Tallinn is also the final destination on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Meresillad’ tour of Germany and Estonia (15–21 September). The tour, the Estonian language title of which translates as ‘sea bridges’, celebrates Estonia, and the tour programme includes music by Estonian composers past and present, with works by Eduard Tubin (1905–1982) and Jaan Rääts (1932–2020) as well as Liis Jürgens, who is a harpist in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The programme will also feature Kristjan Järvi’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker as a Dramatic Symphony. This completes his trilogy of reworkings of the Russian composer’s ballets, after Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. The ‘Meresillad’ tour will conclude in Tallinn on 21 September with a concert at the Estonia Concert Hall.
Watch the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Nordic Amazonia’ concert and all three Järvi Academy concerts now on Pärnu Music Festival TV