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

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

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Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic picks up European Culture Prize 2015

The award is made in recognition of people and organisations that promote dialogue between European states and regions, with previous winners including Kurt Masur, Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic. When awarding the prestigious prize, the jury cited BYP’s ‘passionate and thrilling performances as an example to others to inspire worldwide audiences and foster cultural understanding in Europe and beyond.’

As part of the ceremony, the orchestra performed orchestral works by Beethoven and Charpentier and accompanied artists including Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorghiu, Daniel Hope and Simone Kermes, under the baton of Kristjan Järvi, who received the award from the former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who was deeply involved in the unification of the two Germanies 25 years ago and the European integration.

Hans-Dietrich Genscher said: “Today, we are essentially witnessing a young orchestra with the message to be an ambassador of a new age! This has a lot to do with its conductor, Kristjan Järvi – one of the most powerful around the world“

Re-experience the gala event and the performance of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic which was live broadcast on German TV here.

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BYP to collect European Culture Prize 2015 at star-studded Dresden event

The orchestra will take to the stage of Dresden’s Frauenkirche under the baton of Kristjan Järvi and as well as performing orchestral works by Beethoven and Charpentier, will accompany celebrity singers Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann and other music stars. The players will end the evening with a performance of what has come to be known as the European anthem, Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.

The orchestra was awarded the prize by the European Foundation for Culture ‘Pro Europe’ in recognition of its ‘passionate and thrilling performances as an example to others to inspire worldwide audiences and foster cultural understanding in Europe and beyond’. The award will be presented by former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and Daniel Barenboim will speak at the event, which will be broadcast live by Central German Broadcasting MDR.

The young players of the ten states surrounding the Baltic Sea have just returned from a successful nine-day ten-city tour of Europe.

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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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Grand Finale of Baltic Sea Voyage Tour in Gdansk

In the space of just ten days, Kristjan Järvi and the orchestra travelled through five countries (Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark and Poland), took part in two world premieres (Severi Pyysalo’s ‘Green’ Piano Concerto and Mountains. Waters. (Freedom), by Gediminas Gelgotas), performed with amateurs (Heiden) and to school children (Copenhagen), worked with three soloists (Hyeyoon Park, Heigo Rosin and Pauli Kari), gave a concert to refugees in a Welcome Concert (Hanover) and celebrated the 25th anniversary of German reunification (Gdansk).

The players now take a break until they next come together briefly on 2 October in Dresden to pick up the European Cultural Prize 2015 at a star-studded musical gala. Auditions for next year’s educational programmes and tours take place in November and December and the deadline to apply for auditions is 15 October.

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