After 12 months of unprecedented interruptions to live performance, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi are set to return to European touring in September 2021. The orchestra’s ‘Nordic Swans’ tour of Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Poland from 3–12 September will feature performances in Merano, Verona, Ljubljana, Peenemünde/Usedom and Szczecin. All concerts will depend on the progress of the pandemic.
Following two days of rehearsal in Bucharest, where the orchestra is making its debut at the Enescu Festival on 30 and 31 August, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will begin the ‘Nordic Swans’ tour at the Merano Music Festival (3 September). The orchestra’s next concert is at Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico (4 September), where it last played in 2015. A debut for the ensemble in Ljubljana follows on 6 September, before the musicians travel to Germany for the Usedom Music Festival celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Peenemünde Historical-Technical Museum on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom (11 September). The tour will conclude with a livestreamed debut for the orchestra at Szczecin’s strikingly designed Philharmonic Hall (12 September).
‘Nordic Swans’ – celebrating a Baltic bird of beauty
The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s new programme is inspired by one of nature’s noblest creatures – the swan. This majestic bird is often visible on the Baltic coast, especially at sunset. For the Romantics, the swan was a symbol of loyalty, purity and elegance. A swan draws the hero’s boat in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin and appears in the Finnish national poetry epic Kalevala. Kristjan Järvi explains his fascination with the bird: ‘Swans are creatures of great purity and beauty, and all the Nordic countries have them in their culture, which is why we’re focusing the repertoire in this way.’ The programme opens with Arvo Pärt’s hymn-like and contemplative Swansong, and continues with the most well-known of Sibelius’s Four Legends from the Kalevala, The Swan of Tuonela. The programme climaxes with the world’s most popular music on the theme of swans, Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, in a special reworking by Kristjan Järvi. Explaining his aim was to ‘highlight the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s epic work’ and also ‘keep the music alive for younger generations’, Järvi arranged the score as a Dramatic Symphony that combines the composer’s famous melodies with more rarely heard sections of the original ballet. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s recording of Järvi’s similarly inspired arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty was released on Sony Classical in November 2020 and nominated for the Opus Klassik 2021 in the categories ‘Ensemble/Orchestra of the Year’ and ‘Symphonic Recording of the Year’.
A unique spectacle of multisensory dimensions
For Kristjan Järvi, the swan also inspires a sense of wonder, and of being transported to a different dimension. ‘It is the symbol of a majestic feeling of infinity,’ he says. ‘And this is what I try to instil in people with everything that I do – to think with a sense of the infinite.’ The Baltic Sea Philharmonic embodies this ambition in its innovative approach to performance presentation, offering audiences a transformative, multisensory experience that throws classical concert conventions out of the window.
For its ‘Nordic Swans’ concerts, the orchestra will perform the entire 90-minute programme from memory and without an intermission, with most of the musicians standing up and able to move freely without the constraints of music stands and scores. Specially devised choreography and bespoke half-black and half-white concert outfits will subtly combine to conjure an impression of swans dancing and moving on dark water. Dynamic lighting design will add to the vivid atmosphere, and the musical performance will feature elegantly crafted digital sound effects. All these elements aim to inspire in audiences a deeper and more immediate understanding of the music, and they also reflect the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s innovative and experimental approach and its desire to add an extra dimension to every performance.
Join the ‘Nordic Swans’ tour and book you concert tickets here