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Before the COVID-19 crisis took hold in Europe, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic had been set to perform Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony No. 7 (the ‘Leningrad’) at the Berlin Konzerthaus on 9 May. The planned concert was part of Music for Peace to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. But with performances cancelled across the world because of the pandemic, Music for Peace became an online event, which premiered on 8 May. The centrepiece of the production was a ‘virtual orchestra’ recording of a 20-minute excerpt from the Shostakovich symphony’s first movement. The ambitious recording featured 108 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians in 18 countries, each of whom made audio and video recordings at home. All these recordings were then edited together to produce one epic video, which you can watch on our YouTube channel. Shostakovich composed the symphony while his beloved city of Leningrad was under siege in World War II, and the piece quickly became a symbol of freedom and defiance in the face of oppression and occupation. Our new recording carries a message of peace, strength and solidarity at a time when so many millions around the world have been under lockdown.

Shostakovich composed the symphony while his beloved city of Leningrad was under siege in World War II, and the piece quickly became a symbol of freedom and defiance in the face of oppression and occupation. Our new recording carries a message of peace, strength and solidarity at a time when so many millions around the world have been under lockdown.

With the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s June tour of ‘Midnight Sun’ postponed until 2021, we have more new digital projects coming up soon. Look out in the early summer on our social media channels for Musical Chain. This innovative online campaign will feature Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians and creative collaborators coming together for a series of musical-chain videos, in which, for example, a popular piece of classic music is rewritten.



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How did the Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians feel to be part of a virtual orchestra? Violinist Dita Immermane, from Latvia, had been in lockdown for three weeks when she was invited to take part. ‘I had already had some rest from normal life,’ she says, ‘so I was excited to have the opportunity to work on something new again. I’ve never been part of a virtual orchestra before, so didn’t know what to expect.’ All the musicians were sent detailed instructions of how to make their audio and video recordings of the Shostakovich excerpt, including advice on microphone and camera set-up, lighting and background, and also what to wear. ‘We only had a few days to prepare and record our parts,’ says Dita, ‘and at first I was a bit worried about how I would make that one perfect recording. We had a reference track to play along with, which helped give me a feeling that I was actually playing together with other musicians. While I was playing my part, I imagined how the Baltic Sea Philharmonic would play certain phrases, or how Kristjan would ask us to think about certain passages, and I had such a strong feeling that the orchestra had played the piece before. But when I asked some of the other musicians, I found out we hadn’t. This made me realise just how united I feel with the other players from the orchestra, even though we physically can’t be together at the moment.’

Besides renewing a feeling of togetherness and community among the musicians, the virtual orchestra project had other benefits, says Dita. ‘It motivated me to continue to practise, because especially with the current situation it’s easy to stop practising if you don’t have specific goals. And I think my fellow Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians will agree that after intensive days of recording, we could all now play the first movement of Shostakovich 7 from memory! So I hope we can perform this piece by heart on stage some day.’

Check out our website to read more insights from violinist Dita Immermane about the Shostakovich virtual orchestra recording



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The first of our new online projects is Music for Peace, including an ambitious 20-minute ‘virtual orchestra’ performance of an excerpt from the first movement of Shostakovich’s epic Seventh Symphony, the ‘Leningrad’. This project has been produced in collaboration with the Open Sea Foundation to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, and will premiere online on 8 May. In place of a live Baltic Sea Philharmonic concert performance of the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony that was originally set to take place at the Berlin Konzerthaus on 9 May, the new digital production of Music for Peace brings together sound and video recordings made by 108 Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians in their own homes.

Shostakovich completed his epic Seventh Symphony in December 1941, having been evacuated from his beloved home city of Leningrad, which was under siege by Nazi forces. A microfilm of the score was smuggled out of Russia and the symphony quickly became popular in the Soviet Union and the West as a symbol of freedom and defiance in the face of military oppression and occupation. The symphony was heroically performed in Leningrad amid the direst of conditions on 9 August 1942. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s new recording of Shostakovich’s music brings together musicians from 18 countries, both in the Nordic region and elsewhere across the world, and carries with it a message of peace, strength and solidarity at a time when so many millions of people are under lockdown.

Join us for the online premiere of Music for Peace on Friday 8 May at 2 pm Berline time / 3pm Moscow time via our social media channels Facebook and YouTube



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‘Midnight Sun’, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s first major European tour of 2020, was due to take place from 21 June to 1 July, with concerts in Szczecin (Poland) and Berlin, at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Germany, and in St. Petersburg and Chelyabinsk in Russia. Regrettably we can no longer go ahead because of the COVID-19 situation, but we’re able to announce new dates for ‘Midnight Sun’ performances in March 2021. Kristjan Järvi is set to conduct the orchestra in three performances in Poland and Germany – in Szczecin on 12 March, at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg on 14 March, and in Berlin on 15 March. More performances in this period may still be possible, but are not yet confirmed. Anyone who has already purchased tickets for the 23 June 2020 ‘Midnight Sun’ performance at the Berlin Philharmonie will be able to use them for the new Berlin date, or can return them for refunds. Tickets for the concert at the Elbphilharmonie will be on sale in autumn this year.

‘Midnight Sun’ is a spectacular reinvention of the concert experience, inspired by the Nordic summertime phenomenon of the never-setting sun. The programme features an eclectic selection of works by composers including Rautavaara, Pärt, Kristjan Järvi, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. With no music stands on stage, and the musicians able to stand and move and interact with each other, the orchestra uses memorisation, choreography, lighting and sound design to achieve a wholly transformative freedom and energy in performance. When ‘Midnight Sun’ debuted in Berlin in June 2019, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic was acclaimed by audiences and critics for the originality of its presentation, with the musicians praised for the commitment and joy of their playing. We can’t wait for the opportunity to perform this exciting programme on stage again.



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While we’re hopeful that our ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Germany, Italy and Sweden can go ahead in September 2020, we are constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and consulting regularly with concert presenters. The health and safety of our musicians, our audiences, and our artistic, administrative and production teams is of paramount importance. Until further notice, planning for the ‘Nordic Pulse’ concerts featuring our own musicians as soloists at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg on 5 September, the Merano Music Festival on 10 September, the Usedom Music Festival on 12 September and in Stockholm on 13 September will continue. But we’ll be sure to keep you updated if the schedule changes.

Tickets for the 5 September performance of ‘Nordic Pulse’ at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg are available to buy here



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We’re excited to announce that Sony Classical has just released on 1 May the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s recording of Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto, with David Nebel as soloist and Kristjan as conductor. It’s our second CD for Sony – the first was 2016’s The Ring: An Orchestral Adventure, an arrangement for orchestra of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The new release also features Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto, with Kristjan conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

David has been a close collaborator with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic for a number of years. After recording the Stravinsky concerto in 2016, he premiered Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto with the orchestra in July 2018 at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Germany. David returned as soloist for the orchestra’s March 2019 ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia, performing Kristjan’s Aurora, Pēteris Vasks’s Lonely Angel, and the Gelgotas concerto.

Born in 1996, David shares the free-spirited dynamism and youthful energy of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians. He has described his collaboration with the orchestra as ‘inspiring and a lot of fun at the same time’, adding: ‘The players are great musicians, and they understand how I feel about the music. They always give their best and I can feel how much they enjoy the experience.’ Kristjan describes David as ‘probably the sincerest musician I know’, and is already planning more Baltic Sea Philharmonic collaborations with him for the near future.

Get your copy of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s new Stravinsky Violin Concerto recording with David Nebel on Sony Classical now



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Through their experience of touring with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, our musicians have developed a strong bond of friendship and community – a unique #BalticSpirit. Although right now they’re spread across the Baltic Sea region, and in other European countries such as Italy and Spain, they are once again coming together, this time virtually, to create innovative musical projects, but also to share their insights and experiences during this unprecedented period. Across the orchestra’s social media channels in the weeks ahead, a special series of ‘Humans of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’ explores how our musicians are experiencing lockdown life, and how they’re staying strong and creative in these challenging times.

Saimi Kortelainen, violin player from Estonia, currently studying in Austria, is the first to share her experience: ‘I am getting up at 7:30, eating breakfast, having my morning run in the almost empty city of Graz. I am starting my practice around 9:30 and divide my time as follows – 3h for the violin, 1h for the viola, 1h for the baroque violin and 30min for the bassoon. I have finished knitting 2 pairs of socks and learned the Slovenian language. In the evening I am reading books, listening to and analysing some chamber music. […] This was my plan when everything went down, but actually I am waking up at around 10, have finished only 1 sock and learned only 10 words in Slovene. We musicians never really have a break – all my holidays and semester breaks are full of playing. Musicians with a lot of different interests like me are constantly on the verge of burning out. Considering this, all of this free time has actually been kind of a blessing, since I have been battling with a shoulder injury since December. Instead I have been doing a lot of Tai Chi, yoga and playing video games – all to recover both body and mind. All I want to say is – it’s also okay to do nothing, just rewind and enjoy your lunch as breakfast!’

Check our Facebook and Instagram to get to know more ‘Humans of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’



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The Baltic Sea Philharmonic has been ripping up classical concert conventions for years now. But this coming Saturday the orchestra will be breaking new boundaries with its first-ever collaboration with a major pop band. Kristjan and the orchestra will join British indie group Bastille on stage at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie as part of Channel Aid’s ‘Live in Concert’ series. Channel Aid, the world’s first YouTube charity channel, is an initiative of the Hamburg-based FABS Foundation, which provides access to sports and dance activities for children and the disabled. The concert will be livestreamed on the Channel Aid YouTube channel, which collects donations to FABS Foundation’s social projects with every view of the channel.

As headliners with Bastille for the night, the orchestra will be performing specially orchestrated songs by the band in signature Baltic Sea Philharmonic style to create a unique orchestral soundtrack. The musicians will play the whole show by heart. Bastille has just finished its latest sold-out concert tour in the US. The band’s 2013 hit ‘Pompeii’ has been streamed over 960 million times on Spotify alone. For the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, it’s going to be very exciting and a new experience to be sharing the stage with a multi-platinum-selling pop band.

Don’t forget to tune into YouTube on Saturday 4 January and watch the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Bastille Reorchestrated’ show at the Elbphilharmonie live on www.Channel-Aid.Tv. Enjoy the entire show with exciting special guests from 8pm CET; the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Bastille will be on stage at around 9.45pm CET. All proceeds from the livestream go to charity.



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You’ve probably already seen the trailer for Nordic Pulse, the new documentary about Kristjan and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. Now we’re excited to announce that the film will have its world premiere next month in Tallinn, Estonia. Nordic Pulse will be screened on 28 November as part of the Black Nights Film Festival. The film, which was directed by acclaimed documentary maker David Donnelly (Maestro, Forte), follows the orchestra on two landmark European tours that it made in 2017 – ‘Waterworks’ and ‘Baltic Folk’. These tours took the Baltic Sea Philharmonic to nine cities in four countries, and the film features concert footage from venues including the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Historical Technical Museum in Peenemünde.

With ‘Waterworks’, Kristjan wanted to transport audiences to a new dimension, and Nordic Pulse captures the unique atmosphere as an expert team from Sunbeam Productions 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 Kristjan if the orchestra could do whole concerts from memory, and since 2017 this has indeed become a signature of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic.

Watch the trailer of the Nordic Pulse film here and join us for the premiere in Tallinn. Get your tickets now.



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We start 2020 with a bang on 4 January with a special charity concert at one of our favourite venues, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan will be headlining Channel Aid’s ‘Live in Concert’ show together with British indie band Bastille. The event will be our first big collaboration with a pop group, and we’re really looking forward to it. Building on the experience of working with Estonian singer-songwriter Mick Pedaja on our ‘Nordic Pulse’ and ‘Midnight Sun’ tours in 2019, the orchestra will perform specially orchestrated Bastille songs in signature Baltic Sea Philharmonic style to create a unique orchestral soundtrack. The musicians will play the whole show by heart, and as a single uninterrupted stream of music.

Channel Aid, the world’s first YouTube charity channel, is an initiative of the Hamburg-based FABS Foundation, which provides access to sports and dance activities for children and the disabled. The Elbphilharmonie concert show will be livestreamed on Channel Aid, which collects donations to FABS Foundation social projects with every view of the channel.

The Channel Aid ‘Live in Concert’ show with Bastille is already sold out, but don’t miss the chance to see the concert live on the Channel Aid YouTube channel. Tune in on 4 January at 8 pm CET.



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We are excited to be closing out this year, and this decade, with our Hungarian debut on
19 November in Budapest, one of the great European cities for music lovers. Joining the orchestra and Kristjan for our ‘Midnight Sun’ concert at Müpa Budapest will be Budapest-born pianist József Balog (pictured above). He’ll be performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto, which will be imaginatively intertwined with another celebrated Grieg work, the Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt. The concert will climax with Stravinsky’s 1945 orchestral version of his great ballet The Firebird. This was the first major work that the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed completely from memory – a world premiere in 2017 in Visby on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland – and it started the orchestra on the journey to playing whole programmes by heart. Our ‘Midnight Sun’ concert in Budapest will be performed entirely from memory, with the musicians free to stand, move and interact dynamically with each other and with Kristjan.

We’re delighted to be collaborating with József for the first time. Born in 1979, he’s one of the most talented pianists of his generation. In the last 20 years he has given more than 1,000 concerts as a soloist and chamber musician in more than 25 countries across Europe, North America and Asia. Growing up surrounded by the amazing heritage of the renowned Hungarian piano tradition established by Liszt, Dohnányi and Bartók, József graduated from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied with Jenő Jandó. Among the orchestras he’s already worked with are the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, the Ukrainian National Philharmonic and the Jerusalem Chamber Orchestra.



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Didn’t make it to one of our ‘Divine Geometry’ concerts in September? You can still get to listen to a recording of the whole of our performance at the Merano Music Festival by tuning into RAI on Sunday 10 November at 8 pm CET. This programme will be the third broadcast of a concert from the ‘Divine Geometry’ tour, following the broadcasts of our Usedom Music Festival performance on NDR Kultur on 22 September and on Deutschlandfunk Kultur on 27 September. Listeners to RAI will be able to hear the Italian premiere of Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in an electrifying performance with soloist Simone Dinnerstein, together with music by Handel, Bach and Steve Reich.
Tune into RAI radio on 10 November at 8 pm CET


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On two successive nights in September, Kristjan conducted the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in a thrilling memorised programme of Baroque and minimalist music called ‘Divine Geometry’.
On 20 September we returned to Merano in Italy to give the closing concert of the Merano Music Festival. And on 21 September we were back again in Peenemünde, opening the Usedom Music Festival. The brilliant American pianist Simone Dinnerstein joined us on both nights to perform Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a piece that was composed especially for her. The Usedom concert also featured the German premiere of Steve Reich’s Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, a work which the Baltic Sea Philharmonic co-commissioned with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

‘Divine Geometry’ explored the fascinating connections between two musical styles and eras, and alongside the works by Glass and Reich, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed an orchestral transcription of Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita in D minor, BWV 1004, and Kristjan’s imaginative reworking of Handel concerti grossi, Too Hot to Handel. With characteristic ambition and innovation, the musicians performed the entire programme as an unbroken line of music, interweaving complete works and individual movements with improvised connecting transitions. Moreover, this was all done entirely from memory, as has become the orchestra’s trademark.

Both ‘Divine Geometry’ concerts were sold out, and together attracted a total audience of 2,200. The performance in Merano was the orchestra’s third appearance in as many years at this prestigious music festival in the South Tyrol. At the Usedom Music Festival, where the orchestra has performed every year since its formation in 2008, the concert featured special projection art that enhanced the ‘Divine Geometry’ theme. Writing of the Usedom performance in the Ostsee-Zeitung, Ekkehard Ochs said: ‘Järvi’s concept captivates with its uncompromising approach and music-making that literally delights all the senses. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic can do just anything, and so can Järvi. He is right: his orchestra is more than just an orchestra!’

See photos and video from the ‘Divine Geometry’ concerts on our Facebook page and Instagram


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We’re already excited about the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s next tour, ‘Divine Geometry’, which features concerts at the Merano Music Festival on 20 September and the Usedom Music Festival on 21 September. A fascinating juxtaposition of past and present, ‘Divine Geometry’ mixes Baroque music and American minimalism in a new programme which the orchestra will play from memory. We’ll be performing contemporary arrangements of music by Baroque masters Handel and Bach, along with Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and, at the Usedom Music Festival, the German premiere of Steve Reich’s Music for Ensemble and Orchestra. This 2018 piece was co-commissioned by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic together with some of the world’s leading orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein (pictured above) will join us as soloist in the Glass concerto, a piece that was written especially for her. Having collaborated with Kristjan in a range of musical settings, including with the Absolute Ensemble in New York, she says she is looking forward to making her debut with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic: ‘I’m curious to play with this orchestra that Kristjan created, and experience how different it is from all the other orchestras I’ve played with. It’s usually so exciting and refreshing to work with younger musicians, because they are the most open.’

For more details, and to book tickets, see our concert calendar


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On the day before the ‘Midnight Sun’ concert at the Philharmonie, the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation organised a Talent Day in Berlin, when around 30 young musicians came to audition for the chance to join the orchestra on future tours. A panel of principals from the Baltic Sea Philharmonic listened to the applicants play solo in the morning, and then selected 20 to sit in and play during a full orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon – a fantastic opportunity for these players to experience the special chemistry and communication that comes with playing from memory.

On the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour itself, we welcomed several first-time members of the orchestra who had successfully auditioned at the Talent Days we held during our ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour of the Baltic States, Finland and Russia in March. Russian violinist Zhanna Troitskaya said that the warm atmosphere at her audition in St. Petersburg encouraged ‘improvisation and the freedom to create music without fear or shame’. Being part of ‘Midnight Sun’, she added, was ‘the best experience of my musical life’, and ‘playing by heart opened up to me a new way of performing orchestral music’. Her fellow new violinist Jokūbas Švambaris, from Lithuania, said he had embraced the challenges of the Talent Day in Palanga: ‘The solo audition was calm, whereas the joint rehearsal was one of the craziest things I’ve done in an orchestra: I had never played the programme before, and Kristjan asked the musicians to play standing and so I just joined in. That was an amazing experience, and really motivated me to become a member of this orchestra.’

Check out our Facebook page for photos from the Berlin Talent Day


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Our ‘Midnight Sun’ soloists Mari Samuelsen and Mick and Angeelia Pedaja were the perfect collaborators, completely engaged in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic vision of an organic, free-flowing concert concept, and contributing so much to the special atmosphere of each performance. A champion of contemporary composers and an instinctive interpreter of modern and minimalist styles, Mari was in her element in her four solo features (Richter’s Dona Nobis Pacem 2 and Vasks’s Lonely Angel both appear on her new double album that was released by Deutsche Grammophon in June). Elias Pietsch in the Tagespiegel praised her ‘crystalline’ playing in the Vasks, a performance which was ‘at the same time fragile and powerful’. He found her interpretation of Richter’s piece, which he wrote for the poignant and mystical HBO drama series The Leftovers, ‘both forceful and deeply sad’.

The singing of Mick and Angeelia Pedaja added a vibrant new dimension to the orchestral sound, and their songs also played a big part in balancing the energy and flow of the whole performance. As Pietsch observed, ‘The evening is also beautifully varied thanks to the songs of the Estonian singer-songwriter Mick Pedaja, which are repeatedly interspersed. His calm songs, floating between ambient and folk, fit well with the classical works, and the orchestral arrangements avoid the kitsch of many classical/pop combinations through discreet electronics.’ In the context of the modern and contemporary Estonian works on the programme – Pärt’s Fratres and Kristjan’s Aurora – Mick’s songs, rooted as they are in nature and landscape, sound both fresh and timeless.


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We’re delighted that our performances in Berlin and Hamburg made such a deep and positive impression on the music critics. The imaginative presentation of ‘Midnight Sun’ grabbed reviewers’ attention from the very beginning, when violinists from the orchestra emerged from around the auditorium, sustaining a single unison tone as they slowly converged on the stage. Matthias Nöther for the Berlin Morgenpost wrote, ‘It is rare in such a symphony concert that nobody can tell what is happening in those first moments, and that’s refreshing.’ Bachtrack reviewer Stefan Pillhofer said that this unique opening set the tone for a performance that was both festive and mystical, and he also noted the extra-musical dimensions to the presentation: ‘The musicians were dressed in orange and blue tones, symbolising the different brightness levels of a low midnight sun. And the hall lighting was also used to support different moods and sometimes even imitate rhythms.’

In Kristjan’s Aurora, the illuminations echoed the dancing lights of the aurora borealis, and Nöther wrote that Kristjan as conductor ‘moved almost like a pop star under these coloured lights’. In the Tagespiegel Elias Pietsch likened the maestro to ‘a goblin, jumping across the stage and whipping up more and more energy from his protégés. Cue a wildly successful interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, with the orchestra igniting a veritable musical storm.’ The same reviewer praised the musicians’ joy of playing, saying that ‘This joy probably has a lot to do with playing by heart: due to the absence of music stands there is movement on stage, the musicians interact with each other, they look at each other a lot – the interplay is so alive.’

Joachim Mischke from the Hamburger Abendblatt was another reviewer wowed by the orchestra’s dynamic memorised performance and especially the musicians’ interpretation of The Firebird: ‘Keeping Stravinsky’s high-octane score from crashing under its own weight is no easy feat for an orchestra, let alone one with the scores in front of the players’ noses. But by heart, like the rest of the almost two-hour, uninterrupted programme? As a kind of story ballet, in which groups of instruments or individuals wander across the stage, in which they dance in rhythm and the concertmaster takes off her pumps in the midst of all this excess energy? This is clearly a different league.’


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As a searing June heatwave made Europe swelter in Saharan air, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic came with the perfect antidote: cool Nordic vibes and music to transport audiences to the lands above the Arctic Circle where the sun never sets in the summer months.

The opening concert of our ‘Midnight Sun’ tour, at the Philharmonie in Berlin on 26 June, took place on the city’s hottest day of the year so far (a roasting 38°C!). But the heat was already building a week earlier, as the orchestra came together at its rehearsal base in Vlotho, North-Rhine Westphalia. Kristjan, together with strings and memorisation coach Jan Bjøranger, guided and inspired the musicians over six days, and on 23 June the orchestra had a public dress rehearsal in front of 300 of the town’s music lovers. One local fan enthused afterwards on Instagram: ‘The music was streaming and gleaming throughout the weekend, and to listen to the whole concert made it complete… still humming in my brain.’

The Berlin premiere of ‘Midnight Sun’ was the first chance to showcase the latest evolution of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s unique approach to concert performance, and we were excited to see how the audience would react. We had already performed a whole programme from memory, on the ‘Waterworks’ tour of the United Arab Emirates in November 2018, but for ‘Midnight Sun’ we were also playing the entire 110-minute programme with no breaks – just discreet transitions between pieces, some of which were even improvised by the orchestra.

Pēteris Vasks’s meditative violin concerto Lonely Angel, a delicate vehicle for Norwegian soloist Mari Samuelsen, flowed into the first movement of Rautavaara’s visionary Cantus Arcticus, which opened with the recorded sounds of Arctic birdsong. Emerging out of the Rautavaara came the first of four specially orchestrated songs featuring Estonian singer-songwriters Mick and Angeelia Pedaja. Mari returned to the stage, in between the second and third movements of Cantus Arcticus, for Max Richter’s Dona Nobis Pacem 2, and then for Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and finally Kristjan’s luminous Aurora, a piece inspired by the Northern Lights. The unbroken stream of music climaxed with Stravinsky’s ballet masterpiece The Firebird. Add in atmospheric lighting design, sensitively coloured concert clothing, and the freedom for players to move, interact and even dance on a stage with no music stands, and ‘Midnight Sun’ really was a fusion of everything that makes the Baltic Sea Philharmonic a revolutionary ensemble.

So what did Berliners make of the performance? Cheers and standing ovations told their own story, and deserved a special encore. Violinist Saimi Kortelainen led the orchestra in a rousing folk song from her native Estonia, and the musicians were still singing as they left the stage. ‘Truly heart-opening,’ as one concert goer summarised it.

The reaction was the same from the 2,100-strong audience in a sold-out Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg on 2 July – a thrilling second visit for us to this spectacular venue. In between the two German concerts we travelled to the beautiful lakeside town of Ossiach in southern Austria to perform at the Carinthian Music Academy in celebration of its tenth anniversary. Our performance in the Academy’s ultra-modern Alban Berg Concert Hall was also broadcast to viewers in the courtyard outside. By the tour’s end, we had played to more than 4,400 people and covered 2,780 km by road and air. ‘Midnight Sun’ was another unforgettable adventure for the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic.

See our Facebook page and Instagram feed for photos and videos from the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour


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MIDNIGHT SUN

Hello, again! Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Berlin Philharmonie…

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Summer for us is all about ‘Midnight Sun’. Our tour of Germany and Austria in June and July is named after this phenomenon of the sun never setting at night – a natural wonder that can be experienced around the time of the summer solstice in the far north of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia and other countries that straddle the Arctic Circle. ‘It’s a phenomenon that only the populations of the north are favoured with,’ says Kristjan. ‘It unites Nordic communities, and with this tour we are proclaiming a message of Nordic unity.’

‘Midnight Sun’ will take the orchestra to Berlin’s Philharmonie on 26 June and the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie on 2 July. We will also give a special ‘Midnight Sun’ concert in Ossiach, Austria, on 29 June. Tickets for the Elbphilharmonie concert, our second time performing at this spectacular waterside venue, sold out in just eleven minutes, but there are still some tickets available for Berlin and Ossiach, so don’t miss out!

After opening with a special collaboration with Estonian singer Mick Pedaja, the ‘Midnight Sun’ programme travels up to the far north with Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus, his concerto for birds and orchestra that features taped birdsong recorded around the Arctic Circle and in the marshlands of Liminka in northern Finland. Then Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen, who joined us on tour for the first time in September 2018, returns to perform four works with the orchestra, beginning with Kristjan’s Aurora, which is inspired by the magical lights of the aurora borealis. Mari describes Aurora as ‘like a journey into space: you have the feeling that you’re floating out between the stars and the planets.’ In Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, a classic example of his ‘tintinnabuli’ style, the violinist plays solo variations over strings and percussion, combining virtuosic thrills with serene lyricism. A meditative quality imbues Pēteris Vasks’s second violin concerto Lonely Angel, and our final piece with Mari, Max Richter’s Dona Nobis Pacem, builds from quiet contemplation to powerful climax in an emotion-packed few minutes.

‘Midnight Sun’ culminates with more magical light, this time courtesy of the mythical Firebird of Russian folklore, in Stravinsky’s 1945 orchestral version of his great ballet The Firebird. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic was the first orchestra in the world to perform this work entirely from memory, on its ‘Baltic Folk’ tour in 2017. Since then, memorised performances have become a trademark of the orchestra, and for ‘Midnight Sun’ we’ll be playing the whole programme by heart. ‘Performing from memory is all about chemistry and communication,’ says Kristjan. Playing by heart certainly intensifies the connection between the players, bringing them closer together, and is a natural reflection of our mission to unite people across the whole Nordic region.

See our concert calendar for more details about ‘Midnight Sun’, and to book tickets


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MIDNIGHT SUN

Hello, again! Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Berlin Philharmonie…

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Tickets go on sale today for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Midnight Sun’ concertsat the Berlin Philharmonieon 26 June and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonieon 2 July. We’re delighted to be returning to the Philharmonie for the first time since 2014, and the Elbphilharmonie will always have a special place in our hearts after our unforgettable debut there in August 2017, when we gave an impromptu post-concert performance for hundreds of people outside the hall. Both ‘Midnight Sun’ concerts are presented by the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation e. V.

‘Midnight Sun’ is a celebration of nature and Nordic unity. The phenomenon of the sun never setting at night is experienced around the time of the summer solstice in the far north of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia and other countries that straddle the Arctic Circle. ‘It’s a phenomenon that only the populations of the north are favoured with,’ says Kristjan. ‘It unites Nordic communities, and with this musical programme we are reiterating that message of Nordic unity.’

‘Midnight Sun’ opens with Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus, his concerto for birds and orchestra that features taped birdsong recorded around the Arctic Circle and in the marshlands of Liminka in northern Finland. Violinist Mari Samuelsen will then join the orchestra to perform Kristjan’s Northern Lights-inspired Aurora, Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, Pēteris Vasks’s Vientuļais Eņģelis(Lonely Angel), and Dona Nobis Pacemby Max Richter. ‘Midnight Sun’ climaxes with more magical light, this time courtesy of the mythical Firebird of Russian folklore, in Stravinsky’s 1945 orchestral version of his great ballet The Firebird.

If you’ve never seen an orchestra perform from memory, these ‘Midnight Sun’ concerts in Berlin and Hamburg will be a revelation. With the music stands gone from the stage, and most of the players standing and free to move, the dynamism of the presentation brings a thrilling extra dimension to the performance. Don’t miss out – get your tickets today!

Book tickets for the Berlin Philharmonie concert here, and for the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie concert here

Tickets for Berlin: 29 EUR | 24 EUR | 17 EUR

Tickets for Hamburg: 95 EUR | 75 EUR | 55 EUR | 35 EUR | 20 EUR


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Our ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour in March is inspired by nature and the Northern Lights, as well as by the fairytale magic of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. The tour takes us to five major venues, some of them new to the orchestra, others warmly familiar. The opening concert (11 March) will be the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s first performance in the Lithuanian resort town of Palanga, home to a state-of-the-art circular concert hall that was completed in 2015. We’ll then travel to Riga (12 March) and the Great Guild Concert Hall, scene of our first ever concert in June 2008. The Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn, the city of Kristjan’s birth, welcomes us back on 16 March for the first time in three years. The next day, in Helsinki, we’ll be making our debut at the Alvar Aalto-designed Finlandia Hall. And for the final concert of the tour, on 19 March, we’ll return to the renowned Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, this time to play in the ultra-modern Mariinsky II.

Two soloists will join us for ‘Nordic Pulse’. David Nebel will perform Pēteris Vasks’s meditative second violin concerto Vientuļais Eņģelis(Lonely Angel) and Gediminas Gelgotas’s 2018 Violin Concerto, a piece that was written for David, who describes it as ‘powerful and physical music, but also very atmospheric, with an impressionistic feel about it’. We’re also excited to be working for the first time with Estonian singer-songwriter Mick Pedaja, who will open each concert for us. Mick cites nature as one of his biggest inspirations, and for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic the ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour will reaffirm our commitment to nature and the environment. Our partnership with the John Nurminen Foundation in Finland will see one Euro of every ticket sold for our Helsinki concert go towards the Foundation’s projects to protect the waters of the Baltic Sea. We will also be giving a special extra concert in St. Petersburg on 21 March for delegates to the 20th annual Baltic Sea Day, an international forum that focuses on ways to protect the Baltic Sea marine environment.

Alongside the Gelgotas and Vasks concertos, the ‘Nordic Pulse’ programme will feature Kristjan’s piece Aurora, inspired by the magical lights of the aurora borealis, and a memorised performance of Kristjan’s arrangement of the concert suite from Tchaikovsky’s great fairytale ballet The Sleeping Beauty.

See our 2019 ‘Nordic Pulse’ concert calendar here and get your tickets now

NORDIC PULSE

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Russia

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SCREEN STARS

Nordic Pulse – The Film

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How do you capture the unique spirit of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi on film? That was the challenge taken up by David Donnelly, director of the hit classical music documentary Maestro. His new feature-length film, Nordic Pulse, which is set for release this year, follows Kristjan and the orchestra on their landmark 2017 tours, as they radically reinvent the concert experience, first through the inspirational ‘Waterworks’, with its spectacular lighting, sound design and projection art in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, and second with the history-making memorised performances of Stravinsky’s The Firebird during the ‘Baltic Folk’ tour.

The idea of filming musicians who have such a daring vision was immediately compelling for the experienced Donnelly, who says: ‘I have been documenting the classical sphere for nearly a decade, 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.’ We’re excited to see the final cut of the film, and can’t wait to share our adventure with a wider international audience.

For more about theNordic Pulse documentary, check out www.nordicpulsefilm.com. And you can see the official trailer for the film here


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After the orchestra’s striking innovations of 2017 – the revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ concert experience in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, plus the first ever memorised performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird– 2018 was another landmark year for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, not least because we were celebrating ten years since the orchestra’s foundation.

Our anniversary season kicked off in July with three concerts at the Kissinger Sommer Festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany, where we gave the world premiere of Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto with violinist David Nebel, and performed an enthusiastically received school concert. In September we toured Italy, Germany and Poland with ‘Nordic Pulse’, a new programme celebrating both our tenth anniversary and 100 years since the declarations of independence by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland.

We ended the year with a momentous ‘Waterworks’ tour of the United Arab Emirates in November. This was the orchestra’s first ever tour outside Europe, and the first tour on which the orchestra performed all the music from memory. The immersive ‘Waterworks’ experience thrilled more than 2,800 concert goers at the Dubai Opera and the sold-out Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. In 2018 as a whole, the orchestra performed to a total audience of 10,800 across ten concerts in five countries.

Watch highlights of the September 2018 ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour on our YouTube channel here


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‘Nordic Pulse’, ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Divine Geometry’ are the three major tours for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi in 2019. Each one promises to be an exhilarating adventure, with new music, new collaborations and a country premiere all part of the excitement. This year will once again see the orchestra performing in some of Europe’s most prestigious concert venues, including Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Philharmonie in Berlin and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. We’ll also be returning to some of our favourite festivals – the Merano Music Festival in Italy and the Usedom Music Festival in Germany.

Joining us on our ‘Nordic Pulse’ tour in March is Swiss violinist David Nebel, who made his debut with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic last July, and who’ll be performing concertos by Gediminas Gelgotas and Pēteris Vasks this time. Also returning as a soloist is Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen, who’ll be playing no fewer than four pieces with the orchestra on its ‘Midnight Sun’ tour of Germany in June and July. American pianist Simone Dinnerstein makes her debut with us in September, performing Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in ‘Divine Geometry’, a programme exploring the fascinating connections between Baroque music and Minimalism. The ‘Divine Geometry’ concert at the Usedom Music Festival on 21 September will be extra special, as it will include the German premiere of Steve Reich’s 2018 work Music forEnsemble and Orchestra, a piece co-commissioned by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Last November’s experience of performing the entire ‘Waterworks’ programme from memory in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was such a success that the musicians will be playing another full programme by heart this year, on the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour. Memorised performances have become a trademark of the orchestra, and they’ll be more of them to come in 2019.

See our concert calendar at this blog for the latest details about our 2019 tours


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We regularly audition talented musicians from across the Baltic Sea region in order to renew and refresh the pool of outstanding players who perform with us on tour. This year, with our Talent Tour 2019, we are making exciting changes to the way we audition: musicians will not only be able to show us their talent by playing a solo piece, but in a new second round of the audition process they can join a full rehearsal with the entire orchestra. Kristjan and a panel of Baltic Sea Philharmonic principal musicians will together decide which applicants have the talent and personality to thrive in the orchestra.

The Talent Tour 2019will run alongside the ‘Nordic Pulse’ and ‘Midnight Sun’ tours, with Talent Days taking place in Palanga (8 March), Riga (13 March), Tallinn(15 March), Helsinki(18 March), St. Petersburg (19 March) and Berlin(27 June). The Talent Days in Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Berlin will be first-round auditions only, but all applicants are welcome to visit the orchestra’s dress rehearsal on the day before the audition. And because the Talent Tour 2019 will be held as open auditions, all interested musicians can listen to the first-round auditions and joint orchestra rehearsals, even if they themselves are not auditioning.

For more information, including details about eligibility, procedure, repertoire, dates, locations and how to apply, see the Talent Tour 2019 page on our website


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Dropping yourself into an ocean in the desert? Discovering the land of 1,000 princes? What sounds like a fairy tale from 1,001 Nights has become reality. During five exciting days with two unforgettable concerts, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi have completed their tenth-anniversary year and their first ‘Waterworks’ tour to the United Arab Emirates – the orchestra’s first tour outside Europe. The tour featured performances in Abu Dhabi on 11 November and Dubai on 14 November, with orchestra playing to over 2,800 people.

Beside letting it rain in the desert, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic performed the entire programme by heart at both concerts – another first for the orchestra and a world premiere. Championing memorised performances has given the Baltic Sea Philharmonic a unique identity in recent years. Having made history in 2017 by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird from memory, the ensemble took playing by heart to a new level.

‘Waterworks’: from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf
Prior to the orchestra’s historic tour of the UAE, 60 musicians came together in Germany for three days of intensive rehearsals before they left Europe to make the 6,500km journey to Abu Dhabi. The orchestra’s revolutionary ‘Waterworks’ programme, presented in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, brought a new dimension to the concert experience for audiences at the Dubai Opera and a sold-out Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. State-of-the-art lighting by Bertil Mark, sound design by Chris Ekers and cutting-edge projection art by Philipp Geist created an immersive environment in which sound and music were fused with light and images – transforming both of the beautiful concert venues.

The water-inspired musical programme brought together selections from Handel’s Water Music with a new orchestration of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. Handel’s music was framed by two contemporary pieces, Drenched by Charles Coleman and Flux by David Rozenblatt. The concert in Dubai also featured Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘The American Four Seasons’, performed by Russian-born soloist Mikhail Simonyan. For both concerts, the orchestra celebrated a reunion with three members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble: trumpet player Charlie Porter, bassist Mat Fieldes, and percussionist and Flux composer David Rozenblatt. All three already joined the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on its first ‘Waterworks’ tour in 2017 of Germany and Denmark.

In the UAE, audience members praised the orchestra’s performances, with Julie Adrienne Troup, who attended the concert in Abu Dhabi, commenting afterwards on Facebook: ‘A performance of mesmerising inspirational beauty that resonated with us. Wow!’ Another Abu Dhabi concert goer, Grace S. Thomson, wrote on Facebook: ‘It was spectacular. Young musicians and a beautiful selection of masterpieces. We loved it!’

New partnership with UAE Ministry for Culture and Knowledge Development
The orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour was a big success. And we’re very proud – as a result – to start a strategic collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, one of the tour’s principal supporters. As a celebration of the new partnership, Emirati singer Jasim Mohamed Abdullah joined the orchestra at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace to perform the traditional song ‘Sayyidi ya sayyed saddati’. The concert in Abu Dhabi was attended by the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and the Ministry anticipate that this successful tour will lay the ground for future cultural collaborations between the Baltic Sea countries and the United Arab Emirates. From the Baltic to the Amazon, and now to the Persian Gulf, our journey through the waters of the world shows we are all connected. We hope you enjoyed riding the waves with us!


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‘Flow’ is a word that Kristjan Järvi keeps coming back to when describing his work with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. For him, it sums up the ideal state of being for orchestral musicians: ‘It’s a shared creative energy, an unbreakable feeling of being together. It’s the freedom that comes when everyone is communicating and playing instinctively, with no fear or insecurities, when everybody is tapped into one flow.’

‘It’s a shared creative energy, an unbreakable feeling of being together.’ Kristjan Järvi

This idea of connectedness is central to ‘Waterworks’, with its music linking the Baltic Sea to the far-off waters of the Amazon. It is moreover the defining philosophy behind the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, in its mission to unite musicians and communities, and reconnect them with the environment. As Kristjan says: ‘We’re creating a movement that brings people together from Norway to Russia. The stronger we all are, the stronger we are as a region. Then we can set an example for the whole world.’

For ten years the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has been a beacon for unity in a historically divided region. Its story started in 2008 on the resort island of Usedom, off the northern edge of Germany. Thomas Hummel, the Director of the Usedom Music Festival, wanted to create a new multinational orchestra, and took the idea to Nord Stream AG, operator of the natural gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea. His proposal: what better way to reflect the cooperation between Baltic Sea nations than by bringing together the best young musicians from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

‘Right from the first concert of the newly inaugurated Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, in Riga in 2008, it was clear that here was an orchestra with a powerful message’, says Thomas. Audiences felt it immediately, and politicians recognised its importance too. As the orchestra’s reputation spread, it began regular tours, and was soon playing at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals in Europe, and performing with the world’s finest soloists, from Julia Fischer and Valentina Lisitsa to Jonas Kaufmann and Angela Gheorghiu. In 2012 and 2013 Kurt Masur conducted the orchestra at the Usedom Music Festival. Also in 2012, the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic performed at the Summit of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Stralsund, on the invitation of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who praised the orchestra as ‘a compelling example of using music as a powerful medium for cooperation and integration across borders’. In 2015 its achievements were honoured with the prestigious European Culture Prize by the European Culture Foundation ‘Pro Europe’.

‘It was clear that here was an orchestra with a powerful message.’ Thomas Hummel

In 2016 the orchestra’s growing desire to connect people across the world and to make them reconnect with the environment led to a new phase of international touring and collaboration. Renamed the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, the orchestra performed in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia, on its ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour with pianist Alexander Toradze. The ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour of Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Denmark and Germany featured collaborations with Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica. In the same year, Sony Classical released the orchestra’s recording of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, arranged by Henk de Vlieger.

With its ‘Waterworks’ tour of Denmark and Germany in 2017, in collaboration with Sunbeam Productions, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic debuted a thrilling new concert experience, fusing music, light, sound design, visual art and fashion. Inspired by the life-giving power of water, ‘Waterworks’ featured a special version of Handel’s Water Music and celebrated the 80th birthday of seminal American composer Philip Glass with performances of his Violin Concerto
No. 2 and Aguas da Amazonia. Also in 2017, on its ‘Baltic Folk’ tour of Sweden, Germany and Italy, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic made history by becoming the first orchestra in the world to perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird entirely from memory. By the end of 2017, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic had given a total of 96 concerts since its inception in 2008, performing to more than 100,000 concert goers in 14 countries (the ten Baltic Sea states, Austria, Italy, France
and Switzerland).

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic began its tenth-anniversary touring season in July 2018 with a series of concerts at the prestigious Kissinger Sommer festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany. The orchestra performed ‘Waterworks’ and debuted a new programme, ‘Nordic Pulse’, featuring the world premiere of Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas’s Violin Concerto.

In September the orchestra toured ‘Nordic Pulse’ to Italy, Germany and Poland, celebrating 100 years of independence for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland with music by leading composers from all five nations. Building on the experience of playing The Firebird by heart, the musicians performed the entire second half of the programme, featuring works by Sibelius and Imants Kalniņš, from memory.

‘We’re creating a movement that brings people together’

The increasing international importance of the orchestra has been matched by the growth of its educational ambitions. Education and training have always been at the heart of the orchestra’s mission, and Kristjan, together with a team of international coaches, has worked intensively with the musicians to develop their professional skills and expand their musical horizons.
The creation in 2013 of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation consolidated a burgeoning education programme, which included school concerts and chamber music coaching, as well as workshops for young conductors and composers.

Underpinning all this training is the knowledge that today’s young generation will be the musicians and educators to inspire the next generation. Nowhere has this been more evident than with the orchestra’s three-year participation in Danish Radio’s groundbreaking ‘Into the Music’ project, which in 2015 began presenting symphonic concerts for thousands of schoolchildren from rural Denmark, many of whom had never experienced a live performance of orchestral music.

In 2017, on the Denmark leg of the ‘Waterworks’ tour, more than 3,500 children came to hear the Baltic Sea Philharmonic at its ‘Into the Music’ concerts in Copenhagen. Another 2,500 children heard the orchestra in Aarhus, one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2017. Danish Radio presenter Mathias Hammer hosted these school concerts, and said afterwards: ‘The Baltic Sea Philharmonic is playing on a level beyond that of any other young musicians’ orchestra I know. It’s so professional, but it’s also so full of energy and good ideas. And Kristjan Järvi is brilliant at bringing the atmosphere on stage out into the hall. I’ve never seen a conductor communicating so much with a young audience, allowing them to make noise, and to be a part of the concert.’

‘Into the Music’ was not the only part of the orchestra’s ‘Waterworks’ tour to focus on youth, however. Ahead of the final concert of the tour at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Kristjan led a workshop with the orchestra and Mädchenchor Hamburg, a girls choir from the city, to prepare a special encore of Arvo Pärt’s Kuus kuus kallike (Lullaby Song). Choir member Celina Hunschok found the experience inspiring, and said: ‘Kristjan gave our version of the Estonian lullaby a meaning. Before the workshop it was a beautiful and simple lullaby, but his directions filled it with emotions. I was impressed by how well we adapted to his directions but also by how the orchestra immediately adapted to us. It did not feel like a first rehearsal together. The music instantly connected us all.’

The experience of performing in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is a source of constant inspiration for the young musicians of the orchestra. Russian bassoonist and principal Arseniy Shkaptsov has been a member almost from the beginning, and says he keeps coming back because the spirit and energy of the ensemble are so special: ‘I have played in professional orchestras, and sometimes that just feels like work, like being a worker in a music-making factory. But the Baltic Sea Philharmonic gives me a spiritual and emotional experience. In this orchestra I find new emotions, new energy and new experiences, and I have so much fun too. I don’t get all this anywhere else.’

Anyone who watches the orchestra performing can see that the musicians are giving their all, and revelling in the music- making experience. As Dirk von Ameln, Chairman of the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation, observes: ‘In the Baltic Sea Philharmonic you see young people who are dedicated and successful, but they also have fun. They are a lesson to us all, and also to industry. They prove that doing a job well can be the most fun you can have in life.’


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‘Waterworks’ tour to the United Arab Emirates (11 – 14 November) – Let the music of ‘Waterworks’ take you on an inspirational journey!

From its earliest days, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has always been uniting people. Every year our musicians come together from the ten countries of the Baltic Sea region, an area that was historically divided. And as an ambassador for Nordic culture, we reach out to other nations and people around the world with our music. Beyond music and culture, what unites us in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic is our connection to nature and to the landscapes of our region, and nothing shapes our natural environment more than the Baltic Sea itself. With ‘Waterworks’ we celebrate not just the life-giving essence of water, but also the Baltic Sea – that great body of water which sustains our region and joins us to all the other water in the world.

These musicians are not our only collaborators for ‘Waterworks’, however. Sound designer Chris Ekers, lighting designer Bertil Mark, projection artist Philipp Geist and a brilliant technical team from Sunbeam Productions have joined us to create a truly immersive concert experience, fusing music, sound, light and images to magical effect. We toured this groundbreaking show for the first time in 2017, performing it to wide acclaim in six cities in Denmark and Germany, and now we are thrilled to be bringing it to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The music of ‘Waterworks’ is inspired by water and its power to bind us together, as Kristjan Järvi, Founding Conductor and Music Director of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, explains: ‘Our programme starts with Handel’s Water Music, because as Handel was born in Germany he was originally part of our Baltic compositional fabric, and it brings us all the way down to the waters of the Amazon, with Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. The music represents how we are from this region, but are also connected to the whole world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the waters of the Baltic or the Amazon: everything is connected.’

‘The American Four Seasons’, for which we are delighted to welcome back the dynamic Russian-born violinist Mikhail Simonyan. We also welcome members of the New York-based Absolute Ensemble, who will be embedded in the Baltic Sea Philharmonic on this tour. And for our opening concert

in Abu Dhabi we celebrate a new strategic partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development of the United Arab Emirates with a special collaboration with Emirati singer Jasim Mohamed Abdullah. He will join the orchestra and Mikhail Simonyan to perform the traditional song ‘Sayyidi ya sayyed sadati’.

This ‘Waterworks’ tour of the United Arab Emirates is a special one for the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. It is our first ever tour outside Europe, and is also the climax of our tenth- anniversary year. Over the years we have been honoured to play in some spectacular venues, from the Théàtre des Champs- Elysées in Paris to the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg; on this tour we are excited to perform in the sumptuous auditorium of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace and the state- of-the-art concert hall of Dubai Opera.

From the Baltic to the Amazon, and now to the Persian Gulf, our journey through the waters of the world shows we are all connected. We hope you enjoy riding the waves with us!


To read more about ‘Waterworks’, click here.


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The Baltic Sea Philharmonic turns ten years old today. On 4 June 2008 we gave our first concert, in the Latvian capital Riga, on the occasion of the Summit of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Our second concert came just a few months later, on 21 September, when we opened the Usedom Music Festival.


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The Baltic Sea Philharmonic turns ten years old today. On 4 June 2008 we gave our first concert, in the Latvian capital Riga, on the occasion of the Summit of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Our second concert came just a few months later, on 21 September, when we opened the Usedom Music Festival.


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