The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have collaborated with the Open Sea Foundation from Russia on an ambitious project marking 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe. The new project, titled Music for Peace, will premiere online on 8 May, and features a virtual orchestra recording by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic of music from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, the ‘Leningrad’. The orchestra had been due to perform the symphony at the Berlin Konzerthaus on 9 May, in one of five simultaneous live Music for Peace events across Europe. But with the concerts cancelled because of COVID-19, 108 musicians from the Baltic Sea Philharmonic each made their own recording at home of a 20-minute excerpt from the symphony’s first movement. All the recordings were then brought together using the latest audio and video technology to create a virtual orchestra performance with Kristjan Järvi conducting.
Shostakovich completed his epic Seventh Symphony in December 1941, having been evacuated from his beloved home city of Leningrad, which was under siege by Nazi forces. A microfilm of the score was smuggled out of Russia and the symphony quickly became popular in the Soviet Union and the West as a symbol of freedom and defiance in the face of oppression and occupation. The symphony was heroically performed in Leningrad amid the direst of conditions on 9 August 1942. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s new recording brings together musicians from 18 countries, both in the Nordic region and elsewhere across the world, and carries with it a message of peace, strength and solidarity at a time when so many millions of people are under lockdown.