Kindred spirit – Mari Samuelsen

A fearless musical adventurer, Mari Samuelsen is an ideal partner for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on its ‘Midnight Sun’ tour

‘Midnight Sun’ reunites Mari Samuelsen with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic after a successful debut collaboration in September 2018 for the orchestra’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy, German and Poland. Prior to this project, the Norwegian violinist had already worked extensively with Kristjan Järvi. In many ways she and Kristjan are kindred spirits, sharing innovative approaches to repertoire and performance presentation. Mari’s Yellow Lounge classical club concerts in Berlin and Oslo, for example, have included collaborations with projection artist Philipp Geist, who is part of the Sunbeam Productions team that created the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s groundbreaking ‘Waterworks’ concert show. ‘I love going to a church to listen to solo Bach,’ says Mari, ‘but giving audiences a big multisensory experience, with visuals as well as music, can be just as moving, and has a deep impact.’

Mari premiered Kristjan’s Aurora in Bergen in 2016, in a version for violin, cello and orchestra, with her brother Håkon as cello soloist and Kristjan conducting. She describes the piece as ‘like a journey into space. You have the feeling that you’re floating out among the stars and the planets, like stardust.’ Arvo Pärt’s Fratres is a piece Mari has been performing for many years, both with small and large ensembles, and also with piano. ‘I feel very close to Fratres,’ she says. ‘It’s a piece with amazing contrasts, moving from deep darkness to almost heavenly light.’ She describes Vasks’s Meditation as ‘like the lonely voice of an angel, soaring on top of a very transparent but very dark orchestral sound’. She adds: ‘I clearly imagine the nature and landscape of northern Norway when I play these three pieces, which all feel to me rooted in nature.’ Mari’s frequent collaborations with the composer Max Richter – his music also features on her new album – made the inclusion of Richter’s short but powerful Dona Nobis Pacem a natural choice for ‘Midnight Sun’.

Mari will be making her debuts at the Berlin Philharmonie and the Elbphilharmonie on this tour, and is excited to be performing at such prestigious venues with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. ‘The young musicians of this orchestra have such a powerful and positive energy, which is so inspiring to be around. And Kristjan is guiding them to make music in a different way – I see this in the connection they have with audiences, which is something new and fresh.’

Biography:

In Mari Samuelsen’s musical universe there are no barriers between the music of such contemporary composers as Max Richter, Arvo Pärt, Pēteris Vasks and Jeff Mills and that of Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi. With her breathtaking artistry and adventurous approach to programming and presentation, Mari has inspired a global audience.

Mari’s recent work includes collaborations with electronic music artists Jeff Mills and Dubfire and multimedia artist Philipp Geist, and groundbreaking explorations of contemporary art and classical music as artistic director of Oslo’s Yellow Lounge for its first two seasons. Mari signed an exclusive agreement with Deutsche Grammophon in January 2019 and is set to reach a new audience with MARI, her debut recording for the Yellow Label. The double-disc album, which will be simultaneously released on CD and LP in June 2019, features the Chaconne from J.S. Bach’s Partita No.2 in D minor for solo violin and ‘Knee Play 2’ from Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, as well as compositions by Brian Eno, Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Peter Gregson.

Mari received her first violin lessons at the age of three and continued her studies with Arve Tellefsen. From an early age she performed with her cellist brother Håkon, with whom she later made duo appearances around the world. At the age of 14 Mari enrolled at Oslo’s prestigious Barratt Due Institute of Music, and she later continued her studies for nearly a decade with Professor Zakhar Bron at the University of the Arts in Zurich.

Now in demand worldwide as concerto soloist and recitalist, Mari Samuelsen has performed at such leading venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Paris Philharmonie and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Berlin Konzerthaus, Geneva’s Victoria Hall, the Tonhalle Zurich, London’s Barbican and the Hollywood Bowl. Her YouTube video of ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, made with the Trondheim Soloists, has been viewed nearly 25 million times, reflecting her online presence and popularity.