- Performed for over 2,000 people in Hattingen, Copenhagen and Aarhus
- Played to 6,000 Danish schoolchildren
- Repertoire celebrated life-giving power of water and 80th birthday of Philip Glass
- Collaborations with violinist Mikhail Simonyan and Absolute Ensemble
- Cutting-edge concert show fused music, light, visual art and sound design
- Clothing partnership with Baltika Group’s Monton label
- Next concerts: in Berlin (25 August), Peenemünde (26 August, Usedom Music Festival), Lutherstadt Wittenberg (27 August) and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie (29 August)
Berlin, 12 May 2017. The musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic have returned home after the first half of their ‘Waterworks’ tour of Germany and Denmark. Over 12 days the orchestra travelled 1,500 km and played to more than 8,000 people. After four rehearsal days in the German towns of Bad Fredeburg/Schmallenberg and Hattingen, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, under Music Director Kristjan Järvi gave its opening concert at Hattingen’s LWL-Industriemuseum to a sell-out audience. The players then travelled to Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark, where they performed two public concerts and a series of school concerts. The ‘Waterworks’ tour will now continue in August, with performances in Berlin (25 August), Peenemünde (26 August), Lutherstadt Wittenberg (27 August) and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie (29 August).
Celebrating life, community and nature
The music of ‘Waterworks’ focuses on the life-giving power of water, reflecting the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s concern for the environment, and in particular the Baltic Sea itself. ‘This body of water is the engine of the region,’ says Kristjan Järvi, ‘the thing that gives us all our necessities of life. It’s why people settled around here, and it also connects with all the other water across the world.’ This sense of connection has always been central to the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s identity, he says. ‘Just as water is the binding force of humanity, our orchestra is a binding force for the whole Nordic region, from Norway all the way to Russia.’
The ‘Waterworks’ programme includes one of the most famous of all water-themed pieces – Handel’s Water Music, in a special arrangement featuring variations by Charles Coleman and Daniel Schnyder. The orchestra is also celebrating the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass by performing Aguas da Amazonia, in a new orchestration by Charles Coleman, and Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’, with Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan as soloist.
New adventures in performance
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s passion for innovation has been clear for all to see on the ‘Waterworks’ tour. Most noticeable has been the orchestra’s radical new style of presentation, introducing cutting-edge lighting design, projection art and sound design. A seven-strong team from Sunbeam Productions was brought on board to transform the musical performance into a fully immersive concert experience.
The musicians also have a striking new look on stage, thanks to a clothing collaboration with Estonian fashion house Baltika Group. Designers from Monton, one of Baltika’s five international brands, created 13 different outfits for the men, and nine different outfits for the women, all of which were styled to reflect the water theme of the concert programme.
In another innovation for the ‘Waterworks’ tour, three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble have been embedded in the orchestra. Trumpeter Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes and percussionist David Rozenblatt also featured on Kristjan Järvi’s new recording of the Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s innovative approach to performance and repertoire has excited the young musicians of the orchestra. Lithuanian violinist Augusta Jusionyté, one of the orchestra’s principals, said: ‘I love having the opportunity to play minimalist music, and what Kristjan is doing – inviting musicians from the Absolute Ensemble, and giving an electronic sound to the orchestra – is what makes this music relevant today. This is what we’re hungry for as musicians, and what makes us very excited.’
Inspiring the next generation
As on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s previous visits to Denmark, a highlight of the ‘Waterworks’ tour was a series of school concerts for Danish Radio’s ‘Into the Music’ project. This scheme, which launched in 2015, brings thousands of schoolchildren from rural Denmark to concert halls in major cities, to experience live symphonic music, often for the first time. More than 3,500 pupils aged 13 to 16 came to the ‘Waterworks’ concerts in Copenhagen, and another 2,500 joined the orchestra in Aarhus, a city that is celebrating 2017 as European Capital of Culture. Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic thrilled their young audiences with performances of Water Music and movements from Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia.
Danish Radio presenter Mathias Hammer hosted the school concerts, and was full of praise for the orchestra. ‘The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is playing on a level beyond that of any other young musicians’ orchestra I know,’ he said. ‘It’s so professional, but it’s also so full of energy and good ideas. And Kristjan Järvi is brilliant at bringing the atmosphere on stage out into the hall. I’ve never seen a conductor communicating so much with a young audience, allowing them to make noise, and to be a part of the concert.’
Baltic Sea Philharmonic – a revolution in music and culture
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is a new paradigm for music making in the 21st century. Its concerts are a unique spectacle of sound, light, projection art and choreography, and its performances, under the electrifying baton of Music Director Kristjan Järvi, have a special passion and energy that’s infectious. But more than this, as a community of musicians from ten countries, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic transcends geographical and historical boundaries and has become a movement for bringing people together. Embodying all that is innovative and progressive about the Nordic region, this visionary ensemble is taking the traditional orchestral model further than ever before. ‘It is a living breathing creature, with boundless energy and enthusiasm for the new – an adventure in itself,’ says Kristjan Järvi.