Baltic Sea Philharmonic ends 2016 with special Swan Lake show in Vienna

Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi performed a private concert yesterday, 8 December, in Vienna’s Konzerthaus, focused on the theme of the swan, and offering a sound experience, a light show and projections to create an immersive atmosphere of a Nordic landscape.

Repertoire included Arvo Pärt’s Swansong and Kristjan Järvi’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake, both of which were part of the orchestra’s ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour this September.

The orchestra’s performance was accompanied by a projections and light show, put together by projection artist Philipp Geist, whose musical collaborations include an installation in Bayreuth to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner; sound engineer Chris Ekers, who produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and light designer Bertil Mark, who works with many top German bands.

The concert show is a taste of the orchestra’s plans for 2017, and their ‘Waterworks’ tour, which will create exciting concert experiences to bring in new audiences to classical music.

Last night’s show was the annual Christmas concert for 1,200 employees of energy company OMV Aktiengesellschaft.

See highlights of the concert show on our Facebook page.

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic reveals innovative plans for 2017

Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation has revealed the theme of next year’s ground-breaking Baltic Sea Philharmonic tour – ‘Waterworks’– and in 2017 it will continue its mission to bring classical music to wider audiences with an inventive concert format combining music, projections, light, sound and choreography.

‘Waterworks’ demonstrates the orchestra’s long-time commitment to the environment, celebrating the life-giving power of water with repertoire including Handel’s Water Music, arranged specially for Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The orchestra will mark the 80th birthday of seminal composer Philip Glass with his water-themed work Aguas da Amazonia, as well as his Second Violin Concerto The American Four Seasons, from 2009, performed by Russian violinist Mikhail Simonyan.

Kristjan Järvi explained the thinking: ‘Water binds us all together. It is the essence of life – not only within our physical bodies, but in the body of water that dominates this region – the Baltic Sea. It’s the engine of the region, the thing that gives us all our necessities of life. It’s why people settled around here, and it also connects with all the other water across the world. Everything is connected, and this is the essence of “Waterworks”.’ And despite the centuries that separate the two composers, they have much in common, he said: ‘Handel and Glass are both Minimal, in the sense that they both utilise ostinato in such a wonderful way. If you look at Handel, Bach, Scarlatti or Boccherini, it’s all incredibly pure geometry and that’s how Minimalism is constructed, too.’

Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi together with Mikhail Simonyan will tour with ‘Waterworks’ in May 2017 through Germany and Denmark.

Looking back at 2016

’Waterworks’ builds on a successful 2016 for the foundation. In April, it launched its new orchestra, Baltic Sea Philharmonic, which went on two major tours of the entire region – ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ and ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’. The young musicians performed ambitious programmes with three international soloists and released their first ever CD, highlights of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, on Sony Classical. They also took part in two historic concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of the German–Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourship.

The group enjoyed sold-out audiences and excellent press from across the world. Rebecca Lentjes wrote of its performance of Weinberg’s Violin Concerto with Gidon Kremer in online classical music magazine VAN Magazin: ‘The synthesis in their approaches led to performances that were captivating, accurate, and communicative in a much more effective way. All the musicians’ abstract intensity found its outlet here, coalescing into a unified wavelike entity.’

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Second Baltic Sea Philharmonic tour concludes with sold-out concert celebrating discovery and freedom

The 75 musicians of Baltic Sea Philharmonic are on their way home for some well-deserved rest after their final sold-out concert in Peenemünde on the island of Usedom in Germany, which ended in the orchestra’s now-traditional folk music encores and rapturous audience participation. Their second, ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’, tour lasted 14 days and the players covered nearly 2,000 km, starting in Klaipėda in Lithuania, and stopping in five seaports along the way.

Under the baton of Kristjan Järvi, they played to around 3,500 audience members and performed 16 encores. They made new friends and discovered new music, performing the Weinberg Violin Concerto with Lidia Baich in Klaipėda and Kaliningrad, and with Gidon Kremer in Gdańsk, Copenhagen and Peenemünde. They also formed a new musical collaboration with five members of Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica, who led the string sections of the orchestra from the Gdańsk concert on.

Before the start of the tour, the musicians had an intense rehearsal period in Kintai, Lithuania, which also gave them the chance to reconnect with nature. Kristjan Järvi said: ‘Half the orchestra thought I was out of my mind taking them from civilisation into the Baltic jungle. There were dirt roads and thatched roofs, and we practised in a church. But I told them, “If you realise that this is actually what inspired the music you’re playing, and actually created everything you know about our cultures, then you start to realise that the hierarchy of things is nature, then culture and society, and there are limitless possibilities.” We come from the soil and the sea and the air around us. Once we’re in tune with that, everything starts to fix itself.’

There was also a historic edge to the tour, with the concerts in Gdańsk and Peenemünde dedicated to freedom in Europe and to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the German-Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourship. The Gdańsk concert took place in the European Solidarity Centre, which houses a museum dedicated to the history of the solidarity movement, which many of the players visited before the concert. The evening was also attended by Lech Wałęsa, who co-founded and headed the Polish Solidarity movement, and he gave a speech to open the evening. The concert in Peenemünde at the Usedom Music Festival was given under the patronage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and marked a return to the venue where the concept of the orchestra originated, in 2008.

The sense of discovery of the tour was evident not only in new collaborations and exploration of repertoire, but also through the five concerts that the orchestra performed for 4,000 Danish youngsters in Sønderborg, where it took part in Danish Radio’s ‘Into the Music’ project. Orchestra members also experienced this sense of discovery.

Cor anglais player Ivana Jenesova said, during the tour: ‘I think we’re discovering each other and also ourselves, because we have lots of opportunities to play better than we played the day before. I can hear it. When we play together, it’s a bit different every time. I can hear how it’s changing me.’

At the closing concert, Kristjan explained: ‘We have a very particular mission, and that is to empower the musicians to do things that they’d normally be scared to do. The way we perform is to play around spontaneously. They don’t know what I’m going to do and I don’t know what they’re going to do, but do you know how much fun that is? That’s what life is about – not knowing what’s going to happen. This machine behind me is an unbelievable self-empowerment vehicle.’

Look at pictures from the tour here.

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic takes to the road for ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour

Baltic Sea Philharmonic begins its second tour this week, travelling from Lithuania to Germany, with six stops over ten days. They will perform a programme of ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ under the baton of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi and alongside world-renowned violinist Gidon Kremer and his orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, and rising star violinist Lidia Baich.

The repertoire offers a perfect balance, Kristjan Järvi explains: ‘We’re bringing together different elements of new, popular, and completely undiscovered music, which is why we’re calling it the “Baltic Sea Discovery” tour.’

Music for the ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour celebrates the swan, with Arvo Pärt’s Swansong and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, arranged by Kristjan Järvi as a Suite for orchestra. Gidon Kremer performs Weinberg’s rarely played Violin Concerto in Gdańsk (18 September), Copenhagen (20 September) and Peenemünde (24 September); the soloist in Klaipėda (15 September) and Kaliningrad (16 September) will be the St. Petersburg-born violinist Lidia Baich.

There will also be a sense of discovery in the unique collaboration with Gidon Kremer and members of his own ground-breaking Kremerata Baltica, who will be embedded within the orchestra. Gidon Kremer says: ‘I hope for discovery – not just on land and in concerts halls, but also in learning and experiencing unknown music together, and growing with it.’

The orchestra will also take the theme of discovery to working with schoolchildren during its visit to Denmark. The players will take part in Danish Radio’s ‘Into the Music’ project in Sønderborg, playing to around 6,000 pupils, aged 16 and above, from the Jutland region, who will all have the opportunity to experience symphonic music live, for many of them, for the first time.

Find out more and book tickets here and download our new tour programme ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’.

‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ Tour
+Thursday, 15 September 2016, 6.30 pm, Klaipėda Concert Hall, Lithuania
+Friday, 16 September 2016, 7.00 pm, Cathedral of Kaliningrad, Russia
*Sunday, 18 September 2016, 7.00 pm, European Solidarity Centre, Gdańsk, Poland
*Tuesday, 20 September 2016, 5.00 pm, Copenhagen (DR Concert Hall), Denmark
Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 11.00 am, 1.00 pm, Alsion, Sønderborg, Denmark (school concerts)
Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 9.00 am, 11.00 am, 1.00 pm, Alsion, Sønderborg, Denmark (school concerts)
*Saturday, 24 September 2016, 8.00 pm, Peenemünde/Usedom (Kraftwerksmuseum), Germany

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
with Kremerata Baltica
Kristjan Järvi, conductor
*Gidon Kremer, violin
+Lidia Baich, violin

Arvo Pärt: Swansong (Littlemore Tractus) for orchestra
Mieczysław Weinberg: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 67
P.I. Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Concert Suite (Arr. K. Järvi)

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic releases debut CD

Baltic Sea Philharmonic has released its first CD, an orchestral version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, conducted by Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi, on the Sony Classical Label, as part of the Kristjan Järvi Sound Project series.

The work is one of the great love stories of all time, says Kristjan Järvi: ‘The story of the “Ring” is one of a true and universal order, as created through a connection to the earth and the sky that we are all inherently part of. A story of the triumph of love that cannot be undermined by anyone or anything, no matter how hard the interference is; nature and universal harmony will prevail.’

There is also a significant link with the music for members of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic: Wagner spent time in Riga and felt a connection with the Nordic lands and people. Kristjan Järvi explains: ‘This meaningful association to the Baltic Sea and the lands that it connects leads me to contextualise the “Ring” within the spirit of what may have influenced Wagner to create the whole metaphoric idea of the Ring Cycle itself. To me this is and has always has been a specific and differentiating hallmark of all the Nordic people: an earthy way of being that is rooted in living in accordance to the laws of nature and shamanistic beliefs that shape a spirit of emotional innocence, purity, and honesty, which manifest in both darkness and light.’

In this release, the orchestra performs 14 selected highlights from the 4-opera, 16-hour drama, including ‘Das Rheingold’, ‘Die Walküren’, ‘Waldweben’, ‘Siegfried’s Rheinfahrt’ and ‘Siegfried’s Tod’, arranged for orchestra by Henk de Vlieger.

The recording was made at Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, on the Island of Usedom, which was a military production and test site during the war – the first space rocket was fired from there in 1942 – but now serves as a meeting place and cultural centre serving reconciliation and world peace, a major theme for Baltic Sea Philharmonic.

The recording is available to buy or download on iTunes.

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Gidon Kremer looking forward to adventure of discovery with Baltic Sea Philharmonic

Baltic Sea Philharmonic will be joined on its September tour by celebrated international violinist Gidon Kremer, under the baton of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi. The ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour follows its inaugural voyage in April, and in a ground-breaking collaboration, members of Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica will sit among the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic, and the violinist will perform Weinberg’s Violin Concerto.

Gidon Kremer said of the partnership: ‘Young people are usually very enthusiastic to learn, to discover and appreciate adventures. For me this project has great potential and therefore I am happy to join it along with some leading musicians from Kremerata. I look forward to a discovery – not just on land and in concerts halls, but also learning and experiencing unknown music together and growing with it.’

Kremer performs Weinberg’s rarely played Violin Concerto in Gdańsk (18 September), Copenhagen (20 September) and Peenemünde (24 September). For concerts in Klaipėda (15 September) and Kaliningrad (16 September), the orchestra will be joined by rising violin star Lidia Baich. The orchestra also performs Arvo Pärt’s Swansong and Kristjan Järvi’s own concert arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Explaining the theme, Järvi said: ‘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.’

Fulfilling its commitment to the community, the orchestra will perform two concerts for children, in Sønderberg, Denmark, alongside workshops about how an orchestra works, and the cultural identities of the Baltic Sea region. The group will also celebrate the unity of the region in concerts marking the 25th anniversary of the German–Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourship, both at the opening of the Usedom Music Festival, in Peenemünde’s historic Power Station, where the V2 rocket was developed, and in Gdańsk’s new European Solidarity Centre.

For more information about the schedule, and to buy tickets go here.

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Sold-out inaugural Baltic Sea Philharmonic tour hailed as ‘life-enhancing experience’

The new Baltic Sea Philharmonic played to packed concert halls and was asked back for 24 encores on its ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour, which ended on Saturday night in Moscow, under the baton of Kristjan Järvi. Michael Mustillo of The Baltic Times wrote: ‘It was an impeccable performance that was both electrifying and enthralling, and one which saw Järvi bringing down the house… He and his devoted musicians without doubt gave a life-enhancing musical experience.’

The orchestra performed in six cities, crossing nearly 2,000 km during the tour, starting in Klaipeda, Lithuania; travelling to Liepāja (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland); then to St. Petersburg, to play at the Mariinsky Concert Hall, on the invitation of Valery Gergiev. The group finished in Moscow on 23 April, Prokofiev’s birthday, which it celebrated with a special performance of the Third Piano Concerto by Alexander Toradze, a celebrated champion of the composer.

A key focus of the tour was the environment, which is at the heart of the orchestra’s motivation. Repertoire celebrated nature and wildlife, and the tour proceeded under the joint patronage of the Ministers of the Environment for Finland, Estonia and Russia, two of whom attended the Helsinki concert, which raised money for the John Nurminen Foundation’s ‘Clean Baltic Sea’ projects.

The orchestra also introduced a special new light show to complement the performance, and all the concerts ended up with carefully chosen encores, reflecting local folk culture, with audiences clapping and dancing along.

The success heralds a new era for the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation and for its ambitions for the environment, culture and society of the region. Kristjan Järvi explained this to the audience at the Helsinki concert: ‘Our purpose is to make a point of connection, a point of contact, not only with the audience, but between all of these people, from Norway to Russia – ten countries in this incredible region. An orchestra has a big purpose. It manifests itself on stage, and you see all these different people from different countries playing together. We create an example of unity. This is the microcosm of the harmony that can exist in a united Northern Europe of ten countries. We’re strong, if we want to be.’

See photos, clips and behind the scenes on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Watch Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s closing concert live from Moscow tonight

The closing concert of Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ inaugural tour will be broadcast live from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on Saturday, 23 April, at 7 pm Moscow time (6 pm Berlin; 5pm London), on

The evening marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Prokofiev, and in tribute, the orchestra will perform the composer’s Symphony No. 1 in D major ‘Classical’, and accompany celebrated Prokofiev champion Alexander Toradze in the Piano Concerto No.3 in C major. Toradze described the concerto: ‘It is like champagne. It has a variety of geographical and ethnic identities – Russian, Jewish and Japanese. It is extremely cosmopolitan, a kaleidoscope of themes from many different parts and even many different times in his life.’

Other repertoire celebrates the environment, which has been a key theme for the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour, held under the patronage of the Ministers of the Environment for Finland, Estonia and Russia, and raising money for the John Nurminen Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea project. The orchestra plays Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom) and Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

Live stream from Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow
Saturday, 23 April, 7 pm Moscow time (6 pm Berlin; 5pm London)

Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Kristjan Järvi, conductor
Alexander Toradze, piano

Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 in D major Classical, Op. 25
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26
Arvo Pärt: Swansong (Littlemore Tractus) for orchestra
Gediminas Gelgotas: Mountains. Waters. (Freedom)
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird (1945)

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Baltic Sea Philharmonic makes its debut at the start of its inaugural tour

The new Baltic Sea Philharmonic makes its first public appearance tonight in Klaipeda, Lithuania, at the start of its ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ journey, under the baton of Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi. The concert follows an intense week of rehearsals at the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation’s annual LAB in Liepāja, Latvia, with Järvi and a panel of international coaches.

Kristjan Järvi explained the choice of venues for the tour: ‘The first concert is in Klaipeda because it’s right in the heart of the region. I am very glad that we are starting our life as the Baltic Sea Philharmonic here, and in the countries that matter the most to me.’

From its first stop in Lithuania, the orchestra travels to Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia, the tour culminating in Moscow on 23 April, with a celebration of the 125th anniversary of Prokofiev. The orchestra will accompany Alexander Toradze in the composer’s Third Piano Concerto.

The ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ programme celebrates the environment, a key theme for the orchestra, with repertoire including Jean Sibelius’s Karelia Suite, Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom). Its concert in Helsinki will raise money for the John Nurminen Foundation’s ‘Clean Baltic Sea’ projects.

Baltic Sea Philharmonic has been born out of the success of Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, which continues as a training orchestra, while Baltic Sea Philharmonic becomes the public touring face of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation’s work.

For more information on the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ programme see

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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.

Download our new  Tour Programme ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’.

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