BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC COMPLETES TENTH-ANNIVERSARY YEAR WITH HISTORIC TOUR OF UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have completed a landmark tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour, which featured performances in Abu Dhabi on 11 November and Dubai on 14 November for over 2,800 people, was its first concert tour outside Europe and the final tour of its tenth-anniversary year. In another first for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the entire programme was performed from memory at both concerts.

‘Waterworks’: from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf
The historic tour of the UAE involved 60 musicians, who came together in Germany for three days of intensive rehearsals before making the 6,500 km journey to Abu Dhabi. The orchestra’s revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ programme, presented in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, brought a new dimension to the concert experience for audiences at the Dubai Opera and a sold-out Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. State-of-the-art lighting by Bertil Mark, sound design by Chris Ekers and cutting-edge projection art by Philipp Geist created an immersive environment in which sound and music were fused with light and images.

The water-inspired musical programme brought together selections from Handel’s Water Music with a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. Handel’s music was framed by two contemporary pieces, Drenched by Charles Coleman and Flux by David Rozenblatt. The concert in Dubai also featured Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’, performed by Russian-born soloist Mikhail Simonyan. For both concerts, the orchestra was joined by three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble: trumpet player Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes, and percussionist and Flux composer David Rozenblatt.

Championing memorised performances has given the Baltic Sea Philharmonic a unique identity in recent years. Having made history in 2017 by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory, the ensemble took playing by heart to a new level on its tour of the UAE by performing the entire concert programme from memory.

Audience members praised the orchestra’s performances, with Julie Adrienne Troup, who attended the concert in Abu Dhabi, commenting afterwards on Facebook: ‘A performance of mesmerising inspirational beauty that resonated with us. Wow!’ Another Abu Dhabi concert goer, Grace S. Thomson, wrote on Facebook: ‘It was spectacular. Young musicians and a beautiful selection of masterpieces. We loved it!’

New partnership with UAE Ministry for Culture and Knowledge Development
The orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour marked the start of a strategic collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, one of the tour’s principal supporters. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and the Ministry anticipate that this successful tour will lay the ground for future cultural collaborations between the Baltic Sea countries and the United Arab Emirates. As a celebration of the new partnership, Emirati singer Jasim Mohamed Abdullah joined the orchestra at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace to perform the traditional song ‘Sayyidi ya sayyed saddati’. The concert in Abu Dhabi was attended by the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi.

A return to the Baltics in March 2019
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic will begin its eleventh year of international touring in March 2019 with ‘Nordic Pulse’, a tour of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia. Kristjan Järvi will conduct the orchestra in a programme including a memorised performance of his arrangement of the concert suite from Tchaikovsky’s great ballet The Sleeping Beauty.

See our Facebook page for concert photos and behind-the-scenes video from the ‘Waterworks’ tour of the UAE

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi to make historic ‘Waterworks’ tour of United Arab Emirates in November 2018

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic will give its first ever concerts in the Middle East this November, presenting its revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ programme – a new dimension to experience music – in collaboration Sunbeam Productions on a tour of the United Arab Emirates. Kristjan Järvi will conduct the orchestra in performances at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace on 11 November and the Dubai Opera on 14 November. The tour marks the climax of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s landmark tenth-anniversary year, and will be the orchestra’s first tour outside Europe.

‘Waterworks’ – inspired by the wonder of water
Water, in the form of the Baltic Sea, is at the heart of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s identity, connecting the ten Nordic countries from where the orchestra draws its musicians and inspiration. The ensemble has always been connected to nature and the environment, and ‘Waterworks’ celebrates water in all its forms. Kristjan Järvi, the orchestra’s Founding Conductor and Music Director, says: ‘Water is the essence of life and the binding force for all humanity. The Baltic Sea is the engine of our region, but it also connects us to all the other waters of the world.’ The ‘Waterworks’ programme features music directly inspired by water: a unique version of Handel’s spectacular Water Music and a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. The programme also includes another work by Glass that takes its inspiration from nature – his Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s supercharged version of Water Music sets a selection of Handel’s own music alongside two contemporary pieces: Flux by David Rozenblatt and Drenched by Charles Coleman. Rozenblatt is a percussionist, composer and member of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble, and will join the Baltic Sea Philharmonic as a performer on the ‘Waterworks’ tour. He says of his new piece: ‘Flux explores the paradoxically oppositional significance of water. What is at once majestic and enchanting, the source of life itself, can also devastate and overwhelm, becoming a threat to that very existence. My goal in this piece was to embody the motion of water, contemplating its beauty and grandeur as well as its capacity to create or destroy.’

Reimagining the concert experience
‘Waterworks’ is a radical reinvention of the live orchestral concert. Debuted by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in 2017 to great acclaim from critics and audiences alike, ‘Waterworks’ fuses music with state-of-the-art lighting, sound design and projection art. Kristjan Järvi and his production company Sunbeam Productions have brought together a world-class creative team in lighting designer Bertil Mark, sound designer Chris Ekers and projection artist Philipp Geist. Together they will collaborate with the orchestra in real time to reimagine the concert experience, immersing audiences in a thrilling world of sound, light and imagery. ‘I want to create an atmosphere from the moment a concert goer enters the space,’ says Järvi. ‘The audience should feel like they are suddenly entering a new dimension, a world where anything is possible.’

Friends old and new
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s tour of the United Arab Emirates will reunite the orchestra with Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan and three members of the Absolute Ensemble – trumpeter Charlie Porter, bass player Mat Fieldes, and percussionist David Rozenblatt. All four musicians collaborated with the orchestra on its 2017 ‘Waterworks’ tour of Germany and Denmark. Simonyan returns as soloist in Philip Glass’s Second Violin Concerto, and the Absolute Ensemble players will be embedded in the orchestra for the whole of each performance. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is also excited to be working for the first time with Emirati singer Jasim Mohamed Abdullah, who will join the orchestra for its concert at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on 11 November.

The ‘Waterworks’ concert tour to the United Arab Emirates is supported by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Culture & Knowledge Development and OMV Aktiengesellschaft as tour sponsor.

For more information about the music and musicians of ‘Waterworks’, see the complete Waterworks programme.

 

11 November 2018, 7.30 pm, Abu Dhabi (Emirates Palace), United Arab Emirates

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi
Mikhail Simonyan
Jasim Mohamed Abdullah

‘Waterworks’
Sayyidi ya sayyed sadati

Charles Coleman (1968)
Drenched

David Rozenblatt (1973)
Flux

Philip Glass (1937)
Aguas da Amazonia
orchestrated by Charles Coleman

14 November 2018, 8.00 pm, Dubai (Dubai Opera), United Arab Emirates

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi
Mikhail Simonyan

‘Waterworks’

Charles Coleman (1968)
Drenched

Georg Friedrich Händel (1685 – 1759)
Water Music HWV 350/16

David Rozenblatt (1973)
Flux 

Philip Glass (1937)
Violin Concerto No. 2 The American Four Seasons

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Celebration of special anniversaries with ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Italy, Germany and Poland of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi completed a special anniversary tour of Italy, Germany and Poland with a concert in Gdańsk on 24 September. The 15-day ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour was a double celebration for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, marking ten years since the orchestra’s creation and also the 100th anniversary of independence for the three Baltic States, Finland and Poland. Composers from all five countries were represented on the programme: Wojciech Kilar from Poland; Lithuanian Gediminas Gelgotas; Arvo Pärt and Kristjan Järvi from Estonia; Finland’s greatest composer Jean Sibelius; and Imants Kalniņš from Latvia.

The orchestra reinforced its commitment to memorised performance by playing a special arrangement by Kristjan of the concert suite from Sibelius’s The Tempest – as well as the first movement of Kalniņš’s ‘Rock’ Symphony and two encores – completely by heart. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen made her debut with the orchestra in Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and Kristjan’s violin concerto Aurora.

‘Nordic Pulse’ – a vibrant journey through Europe
The orchestra’s 65 musicians prepared for ‘Nordic Pulse’ with five days of intensive rehearsals in the Bavarian village of Pielenhofen. They then set off on an ten-day tour during which they would travel more than 1,800 km across Europe and perform to around 4,000 concert goers. The opening concert in Merano, Italy, on 17 September, was the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s third appearance at the Merano Music Festival. The following evening the orchestra made its debut in Munich, performing in the Bavarian capital’s beautiful Hercules Hall. Staying in Germany, the orchestra performed in Halle (Saale) on 20 September, in a concert in memory of the late former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

The orchestra next gave the opening concert of the 25th Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde on 22 September. The sold-out concert was attended by 1,300 people, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in her opening address praised the orchestra’s ‘depth and elegance’ and recognised its contribution to uniting people across the Baltic Sea region: ‘The members of the orchestra embody international understanding; they use music as a timeless language that can be understood across borders.’

The Peenemünde concert was streamed live to 5,000 viewers on the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s Facebook page, and was also recorded by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) for broadcast shortly. The orchestra’s ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour ended with a concert at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Polish state.

Critical and public acclaim
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s signature memorised performances made a striking impression on both critics and concert goers alike. In his review of the Munich concert for the online music magazine KlassikInfo, Klaus Kalchschmid wrote: ‘Free to move and express themselves physically, without the restriction of chairs and music stands, every musician performed visually as well as sonically. They gave an inspired performance, and were 100 per cent in the music while still connecting with the audience in the hall. Järvi himself was electrifying as conductor.’

Debora Nischler, a concert goer who was in the audience in Merano, commented on Facebook afterwards: ‘It is great that you have the courage to go beyond the limits and conventions of a classical music performance. Now the last step is to transform the concert into a true standing concert – not just on stage but also for the audience. Believe me, it’s hard to stay in your seat and keep that “I’m at a cultural event so I have to behave seriously” expression when every inch of your body is vibrating.’

Still more to come in 2018
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has one more special tour which will cap its landmark tenth year: in November 2018 the orchestra will make its first ever tour of the United Arab Emirates, where in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions it will perform its groundbreaking ‘Waterworks’ programme in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

See our Facebook page for concert videos, performance shots and behind-the-scenes photos from the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC SET FOR ‘NORDIC PULSE’ TOUR OF ITALY, GERMANY AND POLAND

A week from today, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will begin its major European tour of 2018, ‘Nordic Pulse’. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of independence for the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, ‘Nordic Pulse’ also celebrates 100 years of independence for Finland and Poland and, moreover, ten years since the birth of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic itself. Having made history in 2017 as the first orchestra to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will play the entire second half of the ‘Nordic Pulse’ programme by heart.

The tour begins in Merano, Italy, on 17 September, with a concert at the Merano Music Festival. The orchestra then travels to Germany, where it will perform in Munich for the first time, on 18 September. After a performance in Halle (Saale) on 20 September, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will give the opening concert of the 25th Usedom Music Festival in Peenemünde on 22 September. The tour concludes with a performance in Gdańsk, Poland, on 24 September.

Under its Estonian-born conductor Kristjan Järvi, the orchestra will bring together music by composers from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland in a programme that celebrates the energy, strength and natural wonders of these proud Baltic Sea nations. Polish composer Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa, which opens the programme, is inspired by the highland folklore and landscapes of the Tatra Mountains. Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas captures the power of nature in Mountains. Waters. (Freedom), a majestic piece that the Baltic Sea Philharmonic premiered in 2015. Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen joins the orchestra to perform two works by Estonian composers: Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and Kristjan’s violin concerto Aurora. The orchestra will then give memorised performances of Sibelius’s concert suite from The Tempest and the first movement of Latvian composer Imants Kalniņš’s ‘Rock’ Symphony.

For Kristjan, nature drives the particularly Nordic vision and creativity that infuse ‘Nordic Pulse’. ‘Nature gives us the impulse to act,’ he says, ‘and Nordic nature gives us a special kind of impulse.’ This is also a programme that, characteristically for the orchestra, links the past and the present, and Kristjan sees strong parallels between the declaration of independence by the Baltic States in 1918 and the birth of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic just ten years ago. ‘These nations saw the opportunity to assert themselves a century ago,’ he says. ‘People came together to create a nation, a new identity. We created the Baltic Sea Philharmonic with the same spirit. By bringing together musicians from all around the Baltic Sea, the orchestra has always stood for unity.’

For more about the music and musicians of ‘Nordic Pulse’, see the complete Nordic Pulse 2018 Tour Programme

Nordic Pulse Tour
Monday, 17 September 2018, Merano Music Festival, Kursaal, Merano (Italy), 8.30 pm
Tuesday, 18 September 2018, Residenz, Herkulessaal, Munich (Germany), 8.00 pm
Thursday, 20 September 2018, Handel Hall, Halle (Saale) (Germany), 7.30 pm
Saturday, 22 September 2018, Usedom Music Festival, Kraftwerk Museum Peenemünde, Island of Usedom (Germany), 8.00 pm
Monday, 24 September 2018, The Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Gdansk (Poland), 7.00 pm (without soloist)

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi
Mari Samuelsen

Wojciech Kilar
Orawa
Gediminas Gelgotas
Mountains. Waters. (Freedom)
Arvo Pärt
Fratres for violin, percussion and string orchestra
Kristjan Järvi
Aurora for violin and orchestra
Jean SibeliusThe Tempest concert suite  – from memory
arranged by Kristjan Järvi
Imants Kalniņš
Symphony No. 4 ‘Rock’ Symphony, 1st movement – from memory

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC WITH ACCLAIMED CONCERTS AT KISSINGER SOMMER FESTIVAL IN GERMANY

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.

For the full ‘Nordic Pulse’ September tour schedule and programme details, and to book tickets, see here. And see photos of the Kissinger Sommer concerts on our Facebook page

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BALTIC SEA PHILHARMONIC CELEBRATES TEN YEARS SINCE FIRST CONCERT

Ten years ago, on 4 June 2008, the orchestra that was to become the Baltic Sea Philharmonic gave its first ever concert, in the Latvian capital Riga. Under the baton of Estonian-born conductor Kristjan Järvi, the musicians of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic performed Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony, a new commission – Burning Fiery Furnace by Niels Marthinsen, and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Danish violinist Søren Elbæk, Latvian pianist Lauma Skride and Lithuanian cellist David Geringas. The ensemble would go on to repeat the programme some three months later in Peenemünde on the island of Usedom, at the Usedom Music Festival.

‘The atmosphere at both concerts was exhilarating,’ recalls Thomas Hummel, Director of the Usedom Music Festival and Executive Director of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. ‘Everyone involved had the feeling that something great was just beginning. The musicians of the orchestra, who came from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden, all embraced the idea that they weren’t just making great music together but were also being great neighbours.’

The new orchestra was born out of an idea from the Usedom Music Festival and sponsor Nord Stream AG – the operator of the natural gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea – to unite young musicians from all ten Baltic Sea countries, and engender through music a spirit of cooperation and harmony between people from a historically divided region. Ten years on, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has become a movement for bringing people together, connecting communities from Norway to Russia. The youth ensemble that gave two concerts in 2008 is now an award-winning orchestra that tours throughout Europe and beyond, performing around a dozen concerts a year in some of the most prestigious venues, from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris to Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Thousands of young players from the Baltic Sea region, most aged between 20 and 30, have auditioned to play in the orchestra, with nearly 700 so far earning the opportunity. Under the dynamic leadership of Kristjan Järvi, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is rewriting orchestral conventions – pioneering new concert experiences through the use of technology and design, and performing symphonic scores from memory. With its commitment to education and the environment, and its dedication to empowering musicians and inspiring audiences, the orchestra is set to take its message of unity and international understanding ever further in the years to come.

Highlights of the first ten years
Within just a few years of its launch, the young orchestra had established an international reputation. On the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the ensemble performed at the opening of the Council of Baltic Sea States summit in Stralsund, Germany, in 2012. A year later, the orchestra inaugurated the ‘Baltic Focus’ at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, one of the world’s largest classical music festivals. The orchestra’s successful international touring was paralleled by its burgeoning education programmes, ranging from the specialist coaching for its musicians to workshops for young conductors and composers, and concerts for schools. In 2013 the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation was created to consolidate these activities and to develop a sustainable education strategy for the Baltic Sea region.

By 2014 the orchestra was selling out prestigious venues on tour, including the Berlin Philharmonie, and performing with world-class soloists such as Julia Fischer and Valentina Lisitsa. The ensemble’s impact as a symbol of international cooperation was recognised in 2015 with the award of the European Cultural Prize from the European Foundation for Culture ‘Pro Europe’. In 2016 the orchestra was renamed the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and toured with Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica. In the same year, the orchestra’s second album was released on Sony Classical – an orchestral version of Wagner’s The Ring, arranged by Henk de Vlieger.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic made history in 2017 by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory, setting in motion a new plan to play certain symphonic works by heart on future tours. The experience of performing The Firebird from memory was a liberating and inspirational one for many of the orchestra’s musicians, and Kristjan Järvi, who has always encouraged the players to be open and fearless in their music-making, says: ‘Musicians came up to me afterwards saying, “We want to memorise everything. We only want to play from memory from now on.” That is a brilliant attitude.’ Also in 2017 the orchestra pioneered a thrilling immersive concert experience for its nature-inspired ‘Waterworks’ tour, combining cutting-edge projection art with atmospheric sound and lighting design, in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions. By the start of 2018 the orchestra had performed for around 100,000 concert goers in 47 cities in 14 countries, and given nearly 100 concerts in ten years.

Soloists and collaborators
Some 24 soloists have performed with the orchestra since its first concert in Riga in 2008. Among them are world-class artists such as Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Jan Vogler, Martin Fröst and Alexander Toradze, and leading young soloists including Hyeyoon Park, Jan Lisiecki and Mikhail Simonyan. Guest conductors have included Kristjan Järvi’s father Neeme Järvi, and also Kurt Masur, who conducted the orchestra at the opening of the Usedom Music Festival in 2012 and again in 2013. Masur, who died in 2015 at the age of 88, played a vital role as peacemaker in Leipzig during protests against the East German regime in 1989, and later conducted the city’s Gewandhausorchester in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the official celebration of German reunification in 1990. For Kristjan Järvi, Masur’s role as a unifying voice in a divided Germany makes him an important personality in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s history and identity: ‘He is one of the biggest heroes and role models we’ve been fortunate to have participate in our project. One of our clear missions is to unify East and West through music and culture, and to have Kurt Masur involved was a big stamp of approval, an endorsement that what we are doing is right.’

See the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s latest concert schedule and book tickets here. For photos and videos of performances from the orchestra’s past tours, check out our Facebook page and YouTube channel

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic launches anniversary season with concerts at Kissinger Sommer, Germany, in July 2018

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will begin a landmark anniversary season of international touring with three concerts at the Kissinger Sommer music festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany, in July 2018. On 7 July the orchestra will debut ‘Nordic Pulse’, a new programme of music by leading composers from the Baltic Sea region, both past and present. Then on 9 July the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will perform its unique ‘Waterworks’ programme, in a spectacular concert presentation featuring cutting-edge projection art, lighting and sound design. The orchestra will also present a special ‘Waterworks’ school concert on the morning of 9 July.

‘Nordic Pulse’ at Kissinger Sommer with world premiere of new Violin Concerto
‘Nordic Pulse’ is a double celebration for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. 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. Kristjan Järvi sees strong parallels between the declaration of independence by the Baltic States and the birth of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. ‘These nations saw the opportunity to assert themselves a century ago,’ he says. ‘People came together to create a nation, a new identity. We created the Baltic Sea Philharmonic with the same spirit. By bringing together musicians from all around the Baltic Sea, the orchestra has always stood for unity.’

For its ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert at the Kissinger Sommer festival, the orchestra will perform music by Kristjan Järvi, the contemporary Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas, and Tchaikovsky. The concert opens with Järvi’s Aurora, a piece inspired by the iconic Northern Lights, and closes with his arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty concert suite. The centrepiece of the performance is the world premiere of Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto, featuring its dedicatee, Swiss violinist David Nebel, as soloist. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic previously premiered Gelgotas’s Never Ignore the Cosmic Ocean in 2012 and Mountains. Waters. (Freedom) in 2015, and the composer says that the orchestra and Järvi are ideal advocates for his symphonic music: ‘Their energy and strength, their freedom of phrasing the music, the fearlessness in the way they express themselves – these are qualities that I admire very much.’ For Nebel, the attraction of Gelgotas’s music lies in its power, physicality and emotional directness. ‘Gediminas plays with your emotions, and his music can transform your mood,’ he says. ‘With the Violin Concerto, the biggest challenge for the soloist is keeping the energy through the piece. It’s powerful, physical music, and you have to be strong to play it well.’

Revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ concert show returns
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 and Kristjan Järvi will bring ‘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 great Amazon river and its tributaries.

‘Waterworks’ school concert to inspire next generation
On the morning of 9 July in Bad Kissingen the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will perform a concert for schoolchildren featuring selections from the main ‘Waterworks’ concert programme. Since its formation in 2008 the orchestra has always maintained a strong commitment to education and training. Under the auspices of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation, the orchestra notably partnered with Danish Radio to give concerts for schoolchildren from rural areas of Denmark. From 2015 to 2017, as part of the groundbreaking ‘Into the Music’ programme, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic played to around 16,000 young people in Denmark.

Find out more and book tickets here

 

‘Nordic Pulse’ and ‘Waterworks’ concerts, July 2018
Saturday, 7 July 2018, 8.00 pm, Bad Kissingen (Kissinger Sommer), Germany

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi
David Nebel

Programme ‘Nordic Pulse’
Kristjan Järvi: Aurora
Gediminas Gelgotas: Violin Concerto (world premiere)
Peter I. Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty concert suite (arranged by Kristjan Järvi)

Monday, 9 July 2018, 11.00 am, Bad Kissingen (Kissinger Sommer), Germany (school concert)
Monday, 9 July 2018, 8.00 pm, Bad Kissingen (Kissinger Sommer), Germany

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi

Programme ‘Waterworks’
Gene Pritsker/George Frideric Handel/Charles Coleman: Water Music
Philip Glass: Aguas da Amazonia (orchestrated by Charles Coleman)

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic marks major anniversaries in 2018 with action-packed year of international touring

The orchestra’s two tours in 2017, ‘Waterworks’ and ‘Baltic Folk’, were both groundbreaking in their presentation. With ‘Waterworks‘, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic debuted a bold new fusion of music, light, visual art, sound design and fashion in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions. Along with spectacular projections and dynamic lighting design, the innovative presentation extended to the musicians wearing bespoke outfits from Estonian fashion house Baltika Group. The musical programme, which featured original arrangements of Handel’s Water Music and a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia, thrilled audiences in Germany and Denmark in May and August; concerts in Hattingen, Berlin, Peenemünde and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie were sold out, and 6,000 Danish children came to special ‘Waterworks’ school concerts in Copenhagen and Aarhus.

The orchestra’s ‘Baltic Folk’ tour of Sweden, Italy and Germany in August made history with the world’s first ever memorised performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird. The musicians played the 1945 orchestral version of the iconic ballet score entirely by heart, drawing praise from both critics and audiences alike. The tour included a sold-out concert at the Merano Music Festival in Merano, Italy, and a performance at the Rheingau Music Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany, a live-stream of which was viewed by 15,000 people.

‘Nordic Pulse’ – a double celebration of landmark anniversaries in 2018
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s first major project of 2018 is ‘Nordic Pulse’. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of independence for the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, ‘Nordic Pulse’ also celebrates 100 years of independence for Finland and Poland and, furthermore, ten years since the birth of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic itself. The ensemble, under its Estonian conductor Kristjan Järvi, will perform music by Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas, Latvian composer Imants Kalniᶇš, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and Polish composer Wojciech Kilar, as well as pieces by Sibelius and Järvi himself. Swiss violinist David Nebel will give the world premiere of Gelgotas’s new Violin Concerto in a concert in Germany in July. The European tour of ‘Nordic Pulse’ together with Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen in September will revisit the orchestra’s performance to play pieces entirely from memory. This year the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will perform Sibelius The Tempest and Kalniņš’ ‘Rock Symphoy’ by heart.

‘Waterworks’ to return in 2018
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi will take their pioneering ‘Waterworks’ concert experience on the road again in 2018. After a concert in Germany in July, the orchestra will end the year with its first ever tour of the United Arab Emirates in November, giving performances of ‘Waterworks’ in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Joining the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi again for this ‘Waterworks’ tour will be Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan, as featured soloist in Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’, and members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble.

Find out more about the 2018 tours in the concert calendar

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Auditions for Baltic Sea Philharmonic as part of Baltic Academies Orchestra – Application deadline 20 November 2017

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is continuing its mission to develop young talent in the region by collaborating on the launch of an ensemble that brings together some of Europe’s top music students. The Baltic Academies Orchestra (BAO) will have its debut in February 2018 in Tartu, Estonia, with a week of rehearsals, masterclasses and workshops ahead of a tour of the Baltic States, Poland and Germany. Drawing on students from the national academies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, together with students from, or studying, in the Baltic Sea countries, the BAO aims to bridge the gap between education and professional practice, giving high-level students new skills and experiences to help prepare them for their performing careers.

Through the BAO, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will complement its Academy LAB, an intensive series of workshops and seminars for young orchestral players, which has run annually as part of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation’s teaching and development programme.

Auditions for Baltic Sea Philharmonic

All BAO participants will have the opportunity to audition for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, and thus get the chance to take their orchestral experience to the next level. In addition, students who are unable to attend the BAO education week can separately audition for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in Tartu on 7 and 8 February 2018. Online applications for the 2018 BAO programme are open until 20 November 2017 on www.balticacademies.eu/participate-2018.

Pathway to professionalism

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s Music Director, Kristjan Järvi, is a driving force behind the BAO, and will be a central figure in its activities – sharing conducting duties in rehearsals and on tour, and leading a conducting masterclass. As well as developing students’ musical skills, Kristjan takes a holistic approach to training young musicians, encouraging them to be entrepreneurial and open to new experiences, such as performing musical works from memory. He believes that a strong sense of national identity is an asset for musicians, and says it’s important for artists to be aware of their cultural heritage. ‘Professionalism starts with understanding who you are and where you are from,’ he says. ‘In this sense, promoting your national music, whether it’s Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian music, becomes a way of developing and promoting yourself.’

Kristjan will be joined on the BAO’s launch programme by several of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s international team of coaches, among them bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann (Estonia), violinist Jan Bjøranger (Norway) and trumpeter Charlie Porter (United States). Estonian percussionist Heigo Rosin, a Baltic Sea Philharmonic alumnus, will also be part of the BAO coaching team. Learning from such experienced musicians will help equip BAO participants for future professional opportunities, and is the perfect preparation for training and performing with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic.

A shared Nordic vision

The Baltic Academies Orchestra is a partnership between the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Estonian music organisation GMF La Nota, with the backing of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, and the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. As Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania prepare to celebrate the centenary of their independence in 2018, the BAO represents a striking new cultural collaboration, presenting the greatest Baltic music and the most talented young Baltic musicians to the world, and exemplifying the energy and outward-looking character of the region.

Together, the BAO and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will form a dynamic hub of Nordic creativity, nurturing talented young performers on their journey from high-level students to professional musicians. The collaboration also aims to build networks between musicians and composers, audiences, educators, music therapists, producers and arts managers, with the BAO offering training opportunities to a wide range of emerging music professionals, in addition to its main focus on orchestral players.

For more information about the Baltic Academies Orchestra, and how to apply for the 2018 programme in Tartu, see www.balticacademies.eu/

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic successfully completes ‘Baltic Folk’ and ‘Waterworks’ tours in August

In one of the most intense and exciting fortnights in its history, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic completed not one, but two international tours in August. In the space of just eleven days, the orchestra performed for 11,000 people in seven cities.

The ‘Baltic Folk’ tour took the ensemble first to Visby, on the Swedish island of Gotland, where on 19 August Kristjan Järvi conducted the opening performance of a folk-inspired programme of music by Pärt, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky. ‘Baltic Folk’ continued with sold-out concerts at the Rheingau Music Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany (20 August) and the Merano Music Festival in Merano, Italy (23 August).

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic then returned to Germany to resume its groundbreaking ‘Waterworks’ tour, which it had begun in May. A spectacular fusion of music, light, visual art, sound design and fashion, ‘Waterworks’, which featured original arrangements of Handel’s Water Music and a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia, thrilled audiences in the sold-out Berlin Konzerthaus (25 August), the sold-out Peenemünde Kraftwerk (26 August), an open-air concert in Lutherstadt Wittenberg (27 August) and the sold-out Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (29 August).

Conquering the Elbphilharmonie with ‘Waterworks’
One of the high points of the ‘Waterworks’ tour came at the very end, when the orchestra gave a special performance for hundreds of people outside the Elbphilharmonie, who had been watching the main concert on a giant screen. The impromptu mini-concert was a huge hit with both the audience and the local media. The Hamburger Abendblatt reported: ‘What a special evening! As the musicians and Kristjan Järvi performed further encores for an enthusiastic audience in front of the Elbphilharmonie Hall, there was an almost Mediterranean atmosphere. When was this last seen in Hamburg?’

With its ‘Waterworks’ tour, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic introduced a radical new style of performance presentation, combining music with cutting-edge lighting design, projection art and sound design. A 14-strong team from Sunbeam Productions, including lighting designer Bertil Mark, projection artist Philipp Geist and sound designer Ruben Ferdinand, transformed the musical performance into a fully immersive concert experience. The musicians also sported an exciting new look for ‘Waterworks’, courtesy of 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.

World-premiere: Starvinsky’s The Firebird from memory
The major highlight of the ‘Baltic Folk’ tour was the orchestra’s performance, at all three concerts, of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, in its 1945 orchestral suite version. In a world first, the musicians played the score without sheet music, entirely from memory. Critics praised the orchestra’s thrilling interpretation. Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Guido Holze said: ‘The interaction between the players worked out amazingly smoothly in the rhythmically difficult work. The Russian fairytale about the fight between good and evil was given a vivid, multi-faceted performance.’

For Kristjan Järvi, the effect of playing the Stravinsky from memory was both striking and liberating: ‘Not only is performing The Firebird this way creating history. It is also incredibly empowering. It has been a great achievement for all of the musicians, to break through their limitations, to cast aside their doubts and fears, and to immerse themselves in a realm of possibilities and freedom.

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic welcomed an impressive range of musical partners for its tours in August. Fifteen-year-old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev, one of the most exciting talents of his generation, joined the orchestra on its ‘Baltic Folk’ tour to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. For ‘Waterworks’, three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble – trumpeter Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes and percussionist David Rozenblatt – were embedded in the orchestra, and Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan was the featured soloist in Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’. And for the final ‘Waterworks’ concert, at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the orchestra collaborated with the girls choir Mädchenchor Hamburg for a special encore performance of Arvo Pärt’s Kuus kuus kallike (Lullaby Song).

For photos and video highlights of the ‘Baltic Folk’ and ‘Waterworks’ tours, see the orchestra’s Facebook page. You can also watch a livestream of the Wiesbaden ‘Baltic Folk’ concert here, and a livestream by ARTE of the Berlin Konzerthaus ‘Waterworks’ concert here

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