An inspirational documentary about the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi received its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia on 28 November. Nordic Pulse, which was directed by acclaimed filmmaker David Donnelly (Maestro, Forte), follows the orchestra on two landmark European tours that it made in 2017 – ‘Waterworks’ and ‘Baltic Folk’. It’s a portrait of an exceptional group of musicians from ten different nations who come together for a journey of self-discovery. The film explores how the Baltic Sea Philharmonic challenges expectations of what an orchestra can be, and it’s also the story of a visionary leader, Kristjan Järvi, who wants to transform the concert experience for audiences and change their way of thinking about the world. Watch the trailer here.
Within the first few days of filming, Donnelly knew he was witnessing something special. “I have been documenting the classical sphere for nearly a decade,” he says, “but within minutes of the first rehearsal, I realised this was a completely unique organisation with ambitious goals that went far beyond just making music. What they are doing can’t be defined by a traditional description of an orchestra or genre.”
Nordic Pulse follows Järvi and the orchestra to nine cities in four countries, with exclusive concert footage from venues including the spectacular Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and the poignant Historical Technical Museum in Peenemünde, the site of the Nazis’ V2 rocket facility in the Second World War, now transformed into a place of culture, peace and hope.
With ‘Waterworks’, Järvi wanted to transport audiences to a new dimension, and Nordic Pulse captures the unique atmosphere as an expert team from Sunbeam Productions – light designer Bertil Mark, projection artist Philipp Geist and sound designer Chris Ekers – transforms the musical performance into a fully immersive concert experience, complete with vibrant projections and real-time lighting and sound design. On the ‘Baltic Folk’ tour the orchestra made history by performing Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory for the first time. Nordic Pulse shows the musicians’s journeys from wondering whether playing such a complex score by heart is even possible to feeling like it’s the most natural and inspiring experience they’ve ever had in an orchestra. Players began asking Järvi if the orchestra could do whole concerts from memory, and since 2017 this has indeed become a trademark of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, with the musicians now regularly performing entire 120-minute programmes by heart, improvising, dancing, and even singing.
World premiere at Black Nights Film Festival / Pimedate Ööde Filmifestival (PÖFF)
Thursday, 28 November, 7.15 pm, Tallinn (Coca Cola Plaza), Estonia