Musicians gather in Latvia for the start of LAB sessions

Musicians from across the Baltic Sea region have come together in Liepāja, Latvia, for one of the most intense musical experiences of their lives – this year’s Academy LAB sessions. From 9 to 14 April they will live, breathe, eat and sleep music, as they rehearse under the baton of Kristjan Järvi for the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour, which kicks off with on Friday, 15 April 2016, 6.00 pm, in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Alongside the intensive orchestral schedule, players will participate in innovative workshops designed to inspire them in their future careers, as well as having some time to socialise with other passionate young musicians from across the region. They will also work with up-and-coming composers and conductors as part of our Composition and Conducting Workshops, which run in parallel to the LAB.

Coaches for this year’s LAB include Ole Edvard Antonsen (brass); Jan Bjøranger (violin); Paul Cortese (viola); Charles DeRamus (double bass); Andrey Godik (woodwinds); Justas Kulikauskas (cello); Sebastiaan Molenaar (percussion) and Daniel Schnyder (composition). Daniel Schnyder describes what makes LABs so special: ‘There are many composition workshops, violin workshops and youth orchestras around the world. But there doesn’t exist another that is the whole package, where students can access the entire musical process of creating music, improvising, playing new music and traditional music, and knowing how to play in an orchestra. We always try to present something new and exciting to the young people, to give them ideas. We fuse all these aspects of music making together here, which is unique.’

Together with Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, the musicians will work on repertoire that celebrates the environment, a key priority for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic – its Helsinki concert will be presented by the John Nurminen Foundation to raise funds for its ‘Clean Baltic Sea’ projects. The programme offers a journey across seas and landscapes, through nature and wildlife, with works such as Jean Sibelius’s Karelia Suite, Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom). The orchestra also performs works by Brahms and Prokofiev, whose 125th anniversary it will celebrate on 23 April with a concert in Moscow.

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic tours ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ programme in April

For its first tour, the orchestra takes its specially-themed ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ programme to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia from 15 to 23 April 2016. It starts in the sea ports of Klaipeda (Lithuania), Liepāja (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia), and then goes on to Helsinki (Finland) as well as St. Petersburg and Moscow (Russia). The programme includes repertoire that portrays the sea, nature and landscapes of the Baltic Sea region, including Jean Sibelius’s Karelia Suite, Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom). World-renowned Russian pianist Alexander Toradze joins the orchestra for the tour as soloist to perform Prokofiev, whose 125th anniversary the musicians will celebrate on 23 April with a concert in Moscow.

The environment, and specifically the natural landscape of the Baltic Sea region, lies at the heart of orchestra’s mission, and of this programme, as Kristjan Järvi explained: ‘The tour takes us through a journey of Baltic Sea ports, bringing the environment into focus, with pieces that come from the area and are written by composers who have been inspired by nature. It’s music that makes you feel the Northern Lights, the ice, the cold wind, the forests, the incredible feeling when you jump into the lakes. The whole mentality and way of being of the region is formed by nature, which is why you have these great composers.’

Tickets for all concerts are now on sale. For more details, see the concert schedule.

‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ Tour 2016
Friday, 15 April 2016, 6.00 pm, Klaipeda (Concert Hall), Lithuania
Saturday, 16 April 2016, 7.00 pm, Liepāja (Great Amber Concert Hall), Latvia
Monday, 18 April 2016, 7.00 pm, Tallinn (Estonia Concert Hall), Estonia
Tuesday, 19 April 2016, 7.00 pm, Helsinki (Music Centre), Finland
Thursday, 21 April 2016, 6.30 pm, St. Petersburg (Mariinsky Concert Hall), Russia
Saturday, 23 April 2016, 7.00 pm, Moscow (Tchaikovsky Concert Hall), Russia

Programme
Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi, conductor
Alexander Toradze, piano

Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite, Op. 11 (Klaipeda, Liepāja, Tallinn, Helsinki only)
Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 in D major Classical, Op. 25 (Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Moscow only)
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26 (except for Tallinn)
Arvo Pärt: Swansong (Littlemore Tractus) for orchestra
Gediminas Gelgotas: Mountains. Waters. (Freedom)
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird (1945)

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Opportunity knocks: Applications open for Conductor and Composer Workshops in April 2016

BYP Academy Conductor and Composer Workshops run alongside the main orchestral programme during the BYP Academy, which takes place in Liepaja, Latvia, in April 2016, allowing students to interact with the orchestra, under the supervision of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, and a faculty of high-level coaches. All travel and accommodation costs are met by Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation and meals are provided.

Three applicants will be selected for the five-day Conducting Workshop, where they will work directly with Kristjan Järvi, rehearsing the full BYP orchestra under his supervision and taking part in recording new pieces from the Composition Workshop. They will each conduct the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in a movement of Sibelius’s Karelia Suite in concert, in Liepaja, on 16 April 2016.

The four-day Composition Workshop will be led by composer and saxophonist Daniel Schnyder, with students benefiting from his hands-on approach to composition and his knowledge of a variety of styles, traditions and orchestral colours. They will work side-by-side with members of BYP to learn practical strategies for composing for the instruments of the orchestra, and compose part of a new work, which will be performed by the orchestra.

In an interview, Daniel Schnyder explains what makes the BYP Academy Composition Workshop so special: ‘There are many composition workshops, violin workshops and youth orchestras around the world. But there doesn’t exist another that is the whole package, where students can access the entire musical process of creating music, improvising, playing new music and traditional music, and knowing how to play in an orchestra. We always try to present something new and exciting to the young people, to give them ideas. We fuse all these aspects of music making together here, which is unique.’

For more details and to sign up, go here for the Conductor Workshop or Composer Workshops.

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New orchestra Baltic Sea Philharmonic to make debut in April 2016

The two orchestras will share the same goals towards culture, society and the environment, and while BYP remains a high-level orchestra that trains musical and social skills in talented young performers and composers, Baltic Sea Philharmonic will become the primary public-facing part of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation, coming together several times a year to tour specific projects across Europe, and eventually the world.

Kristjan Järvi said: ‘We have now come to the point where we have developed into a larger institution than we ever imagined, so we’re launching a new orchestra in addition to our youth orchestra – the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. It remains a young orchestra, building up on the success of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic and carrying its spirit and ideals on to a new level.’

Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s April ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour starts in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, with further performances in Finland and Russia and is dedicated to the environment of the Baltic Sea region. Repertoire includes Sibelius, Brahms, Pärt, Gelgotas and Stravinsky, and the orchestra will perform Prokofiev in Moscow on 23rd April, the composer’s 125th anniversary. In September 2016 the ensemble tours the Baltic Sea Discovery programme across Central Europe, joined by Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica.

Find out more about the concert dates and programmes here.

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Players flock to BYP auditions

Following BYP’s innovative formula of having auditions that include masterclass elements, the players had the opportunity to work with jury members on orchestral excerpts that the orchestra will be working on next season, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Gelgotas. BYP coaches gave them constructive feedback on their performances, offering them valuable insights into orchestral playing, as well as being able to see how they adapt to new information and to being part of a group. Percussion coach Damien Bassman explained this process: ‘They don’t have to do it my way, but they have to be open-minded and open to the conversation. LAB workshops are about working with them, so I’m asking myself whether this is someone whose playing I can improve in a week.’

Coaches this year were Jan Bjøranger (professor and head of the string department at the University of Stavanger, Norway) and Justas Kulikauskas (solo cellist of the New Ideas Chamber Orchestra NICO, Lithuania) for strings; Martin Kuuskmann (Estonian solo bassoonist of worldwide renown) and Andrej Zust (hornist at the Berlin Philharmonic) for woodwind and brass; and Damien Bassman (principal percussionist of Absolute Ensemble and teacher at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and at New York University) for percussion.

Musicians will be informed of the results by 18 December 2015, with the orchestra next coming together in April 2016.

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The next generation for BYP – auditions for 2016 this week

Nearly 500 players will bring their audition pieces and orchestral excerpts to perform to the jury in either Copenhagen (30 November), Riga (1 December), St. Petersburg (2 December) or Berlin (3 and 4 December).

They have nothing to fear, of course. The jury – which consists of Jan Bjøranger and Justas Kulikauskas for strings, Martin Kuuskmann and Andrej Zust for woodwind and brass, and Damien Bassman for percussion – will be kind and attentive. Unlike most orchestral auditions, BYP auditions also serve as mini-masterclasses, offering players the chance to benefit from the experience, whether or not they are chosen for the orchestra.

The auditions also offer the public a chance to be close to the excitement of watching how music is prepared, and to discover more about BYP and life in an orchestra. If you would like to attend find out more here.

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500 music students apply for next year’s Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic

500 musicians aged between 18–28, who were either born in or are studying in one of the ten countries around the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia or Sweden), submitted applications and will audition in one of four cities: Copenhagen (30 November); Riga (1 December); St Petersburg (2 December) and Berlin (3 and 4 December).

With around 100 places in the orchestra in 2016, competition to join is fierce, although it varies according to instrument. According to statistics, while 105 violinists have signed up to audition for 30 places, 64 flautists, 32 trombone players and 46 clarinettists have applied for the more limited wind and brass sections. 19 per cent of applications come from musicians who have already been in the orchestra, and 81 per cent are from new players, ensuring that more players from across the region will be able to have the special BYP experience, while the orchestra maintains its identity and continuity at the same time.

Auditions follow BYP’s innovative formula of being both mini masterclass and audition, offering everyone who attends the chance to benefit in some way, even if they aren’t selected, and making sure that the most talented and responsive players are chosen for the orchestra. Coaches offer feedback to players on their performance and work constructively with them in the masterclasses, which are open to the public. Coaches for the auditions this year are Jan Bjøranger and Justas Kulikauskas for strings, Martin Kuuskmann and Andrej Zust for woodwind and brass, and Damien Bassman for percussion.

For more details about our auditions, see www.auditions-bmef.eu.

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Classica to broadcast Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic’s Berlin Philharmonie debut, in High Definition

For this special concert in January 2014, Kristjan Järvi selected a programme of music by favourite classical Baltic Sea composers, including Bach, Wagner, Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Alvén. The orchestra was joined by internet piano sensation Valentina Lisitsa and Gramophone and Midem award-winning violinist Julia Fischer, performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, respectively.

Der Tagesspiegel wrote of the concert: ‘The music boils and steams like lava, repeatedly heralding the big eruption, until everything ends in a huge burst of sound. The public loved it.’

Clips of the concert can be viewed on BYP’s YouTube channel.

Broadcast of ‘Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic: Live from the Berlin Philharmonie’ on Classica
Thursday, 1 October, 1 pm and 8 pm
Friday, 2 October, 3 am
Sunday, 19 November, 10 am

On Sky
Thursday, 1 October, 8.15 pm

Valentina Lisitsa appears courtesy of Decca Classics. Julia Fischer appears courtesy of Unitel Classica.

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Calling All Composers!

We will have another Composers Workshop as part of BYP LAB in Poland from 21 to 26 March 2015. The workshop will be led by Daniel Schnyder, renowned composer and performer in the fields of both jazz and classical music.

FOUR lucky participants will have the chance to benefit from Daniel Schnyder’s hands-on and dynamic approach to composition and his vast knowledge of styles, traditions and orchestral colours. Participants will also get the chance to work directly with BYP orchestral members to understand how best to compose for instruments in the orchestra.

During the four-day workshop, participants will each compose part of a new piece, culminating in an orchestral performance of their work. This is a unique chance to receive direct and constructive feedback from Daniel Schnyder, BYP orchestral musicians, and Founding Conductor and Music Director, Kristjan Järvi.

We look forward to your application by 31 January 2015.

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