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‘I want to create transformational environments,’ says Kristjan Järvi. This mission is not confined to the concert hall and the way technology and visual art can transform the audience experience. It also extends to his vision of how an orchestra can enrich the lives of its players and embolden them to change the world around them. Kristjan’s ambition to make this a reality with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has never wavered in nearly ten years as Music Director, yet the entrepreneurial drive and leadership needed to make it happen have been with him far longer.

In 1993, as a 21-year-old graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Järvi founded the Absolute Ensemble, a band that brings together jazz, hip-hop, electro-acoustic, classical and other musical styles. This boundary-busting group, three members of which are joining the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on its ‘Waterworks’ tour, has created its own distinctive sound. And the band’s evolution has been driven not only by Kristjan’s omnivorous musical tastes, but also by his encouragement of the group’s members to improvise, arrange and compose.

Kristjan Järvi thrives on reshaping the orchestral experience for performers and audiences alike

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The collective energy of the Absolute Ensemble carries through to the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, where Kristjan sees himself as part of the orchestra, and not an archetypal leader. ‘I don’t want to lead from outside and say “Follow me,”’ he says. ‘I’m someone who makes music with them, and it just happens to be my job to stand in front of them.’ Though there is no denying his dynamism as a conductor; the New York Times hailed him as ‘a kinetic force on the podium, like Leonard Bernstein reborn’.

For Kristjan, however, everybody in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has an equal presence and importance. Instilling a feeling of true equality is liberating for the players, he says, and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, the feeling that anything is possible. ‘I’m not preaching to them, but gently raising their consciousness. They are the ones taking the change to another level,’ he says. ‘The brilliance of music is that it’s not like religion or politics, where you have to tell people what to believe and what to do. Whether as performers or members of the audience, music is something that flips a switch in all of us.’


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/interview-divine-geometry-steve-reich/"></div>Steve Reich’s ‘Music for Ensemble and Orchestra’ (2018) will have its German premiere at the Usedom Music Festival on 21 September 2019, as part of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Divine Geometry’ tour.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/interview-divine-geometry-steve-reich/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/interview-divine-geometry-simone-dinnerstein/"></div>American pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (2017) with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi on the ‘Divine Geometry’ tour of Italy and Germany in September 2019.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/interview-divine-geometry-simone-dinnerstein/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mick-pedaja-voice-of-nature/"></div>Born in Zurich in 1996, violinist David Nebel is still only in his early twenties but has already achieved remarkable success at international music competitions and as a soloist performing in major concert halls around the world, from Germany and Austria to China, South Africa and the Ukraine.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mick-pedaja-voice-of-nature/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/david-nebel-swiss-star/"></div>Born in Zurich in 1996, violinist David Nebel is still only in his early twenties but has already achieved remarkable success at international music competitions and as a soloist performing in major concert halls around the world, from Germany and Austria to China, South Africa and the Ukraine.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/david-nebel-swiss-star/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mari-samuelsen-visionary-violinist/"></div>Born in Zurich in 1996, violinist David Nebel is still only in his early twenties but has already achieved remarkable success at international music competitions and as a soloist performing in major concert halls around the world, from Germany and Austria to China, South Africa and the Ukraine.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mari-samuelsen-visionary-violinist/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mari-samuelsen-visionary-violinist-2/"></div>Born in Zurich in 1996, violinist David Nebel is still only in his early twenties but has already achieved remarkable success at international music competitions and as a soloist performing in major concert halls around the world, from Germany and Austria to China, South Africa and the Ukraine.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/mari-samuelsen-visionary-violinist-2/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/gefiminas-gelgotas-new-music-from-an-old-friend/"></div>Born in Zurich in 1996, violinist David Nebel is still only in his early twenties but has already achieved remarkable success at international music competitions and as a soloist performing in major concert halls around the world, from Germany and Austria to China, South Africa and the Ukraine.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/gefiminas-gelgotas-new-music-from-an-old-friend/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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Mikhail Simonyan’s career has taken some exciting turns since 2011, when he last toured with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, or the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic as it was then. As well as performing concertos with leading orchestras around the world, he has created and led a youth orchestra in Russia, and become president of a new international cultural and educational foundation. For an artist still in his early thirties, such entrepreneurial credentials say a lot about his character and charisma. ‘Some musicians are happy just playing in an orchestra, or travelling the globe as soloists,’ he says, ‘but if you want to create your own team, and build an army of great people around you, you just have to go ahead and do it.’

Mikhail shares a natural talent for leadership with Kristjan Järvi, one of his closest friends and collaborators. The two have worked together often since meeting in 1999, notably partnering for the violinist’s 2011 Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Khachaturian and Barber concertos. ‘Kristjan is like no other conductor,’ says Mikhail. ‘There is a freedom about his way of making music that I love. The whole process of rehearsing and performing is so alive with him.’

Violinist Mikhail Simonyan combines life as an international soloist with a talent for spearheading cultural and social projects

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The violinist finds a special freedom too in Glass’s Violin Concerto No.2. The music’s repetition of themes and phrases offers huge opportunities to create a singular interpretation, he says, but that same freedom makes the piece challenging: ‘In a way it makes your soul quite naked, because people can judge what kind of person you are by how you shape the music and play the phrases.’

As he reunites with Kristjan Järvi and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, Mikhail is acutely conscious that the orchestra’s message of unity and international cooperation remains a vital one: ‘Political bridges have been burned across the Baltic region, but we will always be neighbours. The cultural bond between our countries can never be broken, and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is making that bond stronger.’ The healing power of music is something Mikhail has seen first-hand, when he set up a project to support the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in battle-scarred Kabul. He would like to see more young musicians taking up social, educational and charitable initiatives. ‘These kinds of projects are far more important than signing a record deal or working for a big agency,’ he says. ‘You’re investing your talent, time and passion to reach a much broader range of society, an audience that will never judge you for what you’re doing, but will love you for doing it.’


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<div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/alexander-malofeev-boy-wonder/"></div>At just 15 years old, Moscow-born Alexander Malofeev, our soloist for the ‘Baltic Folk’ tour, already has a glittering record of achievement as a pianist. A multiple prizewinner at international competitions, he has performed in the most prestigious venues in Russia, and with such orchestras as the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, the Russian National Orchestra under Vladimir Spivakov, and the Moscow Virtuosi State Chamber Orchestra. <!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://blog.baltic-sea-philharmonic.eu/alexander-malofeev-boy-wonder/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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We quizzed the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic about their musical life and their experience with the ensemble. Let’s meet one of them, 28-year-old violist Nils Biesewig from Germany, right now:


Nils, what do you like most about playing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

I love the way of music making. There is so much energy and groove, so much mutual will. It is a very intense experience.

Which musicians have inspired you the most?

I admire Claudio Abbado because of his huge musicality and his elegant way of conducting. The  Finnish violinist  Pekka Kuusisto inspires me because of his unique style and spontaneity. I hope we work with him soon!

What’s been the best moment of your Baltic Sea Philharmonic experience so far?

In 2016 we played the Viljandi Suite as an encore. It was a thrilling experience. Kristjan persuaded the audience to start dancing and we left the stage still playing. It ended up in a big party.

If you weren’t going to be a musician, what would you have done instead?

I also studied Music Education and German to become a teacher at secondary schools, and I regularly work in that area.

Apart from family and friends, what do miss most about home when you’re on tour?

Actually, when I am on the road I am usually very happy, and I don’t want to go back home too soon. I love to see and experience new things.


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We quizzed the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic about their musical life and their experience with the ensemble. Let’s meet one of them, 21-year-old percussionist Alberto Rodriguez from Spain/ Norway, right now:


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How many years have you played in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

This is my first year with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic.

What do you like most about playing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

The great atmosphere and the people I play with

How old were you when started learning your instrument?

I was eight when I started to learn percussion.

Which musicians have inspired you the most?

My teachers and friends. They were my source of inspiration and motivation.

Which orchestral work would you most like to play with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

I would love to play Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss.

What’s been the best moment of your Baltic Sea Philharmonic experience so far?

My very first concert with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in Hattingen, Germany. It was just fantastic!

What’s your favourite piece of music by a composer from your home country?

Chants d’Espagne by Albéniz

If you weren’t going to be a musician what would you have done instead?

Probably I would have done something very different. Maybe I would have studied to be an engineer.

Apart from family and friends, what do miss most about home when you’re away?

I miss the food from Spain. But I also miss the smell of the rain in my hometown – there’s something very special about it.


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We quizzed the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic about their musical life and their experience with the ensemble. Let’s meet one of them, 23-year-old violinist Mari-Liis Urb from Estonia, right now:


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How many years have you played in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

‘Waterworks’ was my first tour with the orchestra.

What do you like most about playing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

I like that everyone is enjoying what they’re doing. It’s wonderful to see how enthusiastic the musicians are, and how Kristjan gives energetic, sometimes even crazy impulses to make the orchestra sound not like a regular orchestra but more like a band whose members are allowed to show their individuality and musicality.

How old were you when started learning your instrument?

I was five when I was first introduced to the violin.

Which musicians have inspired you the most?

Probably the biggest inspiration for me is to see my musician friends being successful in the music world. To see them grow as musicians, study at prestigious schools and have a bright start to their career makes me look up to them. They might be the next world-famous artists, so why not support their work and talent right now and be inspired by them?

Which orchestral work would you most like to play with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

Something by Debussy, such as La mer, Nocturnes or Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

What’s been the best moment of your Baltic Sea Philharmonic experience so far?

Having fun in the school concerts

What’s your favourite piece of music by a composer from your home country?

Estonia has so many great composers, so it’s difficult to choose. Because everyone knows Arvo Pärt and Eduard Tubin, I’ll pick someone else: Heino Eller’s Koit (Dawn) is an excellent orchestral piece, and for my instrument there is a beautiful piece called The Poem of Love by Artur Lemba. The tradition of Estonian choir singing is very important for me, and the composer Cyrillus Kreek wrote some amazingly beautiful songs such as The Psalms of David Nos. 104 and 141.

If you weren’t going to be a musician, what would you have done instead?

Whatever I did instead of music, I would still be into music a lot. Maybe I would have had my own little custom-made lingerie boutique, or I would be working with abandoned dogs.

Apart from family and friends, what do miss most about home when you’re away?

Besides the important people at home, nothing really


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We quizzed the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic about their musical life and their experience with the ensemble. Let’s meet one of them, 30-year-old violinist Augusta Jusionytė from Lithuania, right now:


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How many years have you played in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

I have played in the orchestra in 2010, 2011 and 2017.

What do you like most about playing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

I love the amazing atmosphere and energy that we all create in the concerts. The way Kristjan is working with the orchestra inspires all of us, and his choice of repertoire is relevant and totally exciting.

How old were you when started learning your instrument?

I was six years old.

Who are your musical heroes or heroines?

My heroes are Maxim Vengerov, Daniil Trifonov, Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson. My heroines are Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Cecilia Bartoli and Laurie Anderson.

Which orchestral work would you most like to play with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

The Poem of Ecstasy by Scriabin

What’s been the best moment of your Baltic Sea Philharmonic experience so far?

Rehearsals with Kristjan, when the orchestra was learning to memorise Stravinsky’s The Firebird. It was such an adventurous, challenging and inspiring atmosphere. I think the Baltic Sea Philharmonic rehearsals are very creative.

What’s your favourite piece of music by a composer from your home country?

Every piece by Gediminas Gelgotas

If you weren’t going to be a musician what would you have done instead?

Something to do with music

Apart from family and friends, what do miss most about home when you’re away?

Apart from my family and friends I don’t miss anything. I have everything with me.


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Playing with Baltic Sea Philharmonic is a once in a lifetime experience, that all young musicians should have. It opens your eyes, ears and heart in an unexpected way. Seeing the same faces every day, playing concerts together, gives you an opportunity to get to know people and makes you a part of a small community, that has the same goal – to make music.

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We quizzed the players of Baltic Sea Philharmonic about their musical life and their experience with the ensemble. Let’s meet one of them, 21-year-old double bassist Dušan Kostić from Serbia, right now:


How many years have you played in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

One year

 

What do you like most about playing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

Playing with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is an amazing experience for me! The energy of the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi is so incredible that it makes you want to give more and more at every rehearsal and concert.

 

How old were you when started learning your instrument?

13

 

Which musicians have inspired you the most?

Claudio Abbado, Gustavo Dudamel, Kristjan Järvi and Roman Simovic

 

Which orchestral work would you most like to play with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and also Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony

 

What’s been the best moment of your Baltic Sea Philharmonic experience so far?

The ‘Waterworks’ encores at the concert in Copenhagen

 

What’s your favourite piece of music by a composer from your home country?

Zoran Erić’s Cartoon

 

If you weren’t going to be a musician what would you have done instead?

I would play basketball.

 

Apart from family and friends, what do miss most about home when you’re away?

I miss my bed and sleep.


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