The Baltic Sea Philharmonic takes the orchestral concert experience to a new dimension. Every performance is a voyage of musical discovery, as the musicians perform the entire programme from memory, creating a one-of-a-kind artistic journey. Each concert is a unique spectacle of sound, light, visual art and technology, and under the electrifying baton of Music Director and Founding Conductor Kristjan Järvi every performance has a special energy that’s absolutely infectious. But even more than this, as a community of musicians from ten Nordic countries, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic transcends boundaries and has become a movement for bringing people together. Embodying all that is innovative and progressive about the Nordic region, this visionary ensemble is taking the traditional orchestral model further than ever before. ‘It is a living breathing creature, with boundless energy and enthusiasm for the new – an adventure in itself,’ says Kristjan Järvi.
An orchestra born to unite and innovate
Bringing together musicians from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic started life in 2008 on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom on the initiative of Thomas Hummel, Director of the Usedom Music Festival – and won immediately acclaim for its performances and its powerful message of unity in a historically divided region. The orchestra plays at renowned festivals and in the most prestigious concert halls in Europe and beyond, including the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Dubai Opera. The world’s finest artists from classical stars such as Julia Fischer, Jonas Kaufmann, Max Richter, Gidon Kremer and the late Kurt Masur to pop bands like Bastille, have all performed with the orchestra. In 2015 the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s achievements were honoured with the prestigious European Culture Prize by the European Culture Foundation ‘Pro Europe’. As the orchestra’s international reputation grew, so did its educational ambitions, and it expanded the training and professional development opportunities for its musicians. By now, the orchestra is well known for its innovative programmes such as ‘Waterworks’, ‘Nordic Pulse’, ‘Midnight Sun’, ‘Divine Geometry’ and ‘Nordic Swans’ that throw classical music conventions out of the window and enable audiences and the musicians alike to experience new musical dimensions.
The orchestra’s growing discography with Kristjan Järvi includes three acclaimed recordings for Sony Classical. The first of these, The Ring: An Orchestral Adventure, an arrangement for orchestra of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, was released in 2016. In 2020, two albums were released – a recording featuring the orchestra and Swiss violinist David Nebel in Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto and the album Sleeping Beauty, with Järvi conducting in his innovative arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet as a dramatic symphony. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic and David Nebel also recorded Järvi’s uplifting piece Aurora for the conductor–composer’s 2020 album Nordic Escapes, which was released on BMG/Modern Recordings. In January 2021, Amazon Music released the single, ‘Warmth ReOrchestrated’, recorded live at the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s wildly successful January 2020 charity concert with British pop band Bastille at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. In August 2021, Max Richter released his new album EXILES with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi, marking the orchestra’s debut on Deutsche Grammophon. The German-British composer decided to collaborate with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic because of its open, borderless and unifying nature. ‘They are engaged with music and society, connecting people who live around the Baltic Sea so that obviously includes former Western European countries, former Eastern European countries,’ he said. ‘The orchestra has an explicit social dimension, which really struck me as important.’ An ensemble for the digital era embracing the future With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting live performances in 2020, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic and Kristjan Järvi responded with innovative digital projects connecting musicians and music fans around Europe and across the world. ‘Musical Chain’, which launched in July 2020, takes the virtual orchestra concept in a completely fresh direction, bringing musicians from the orchestra together with other artists and creative collaborators. Since its launch in 2020, the project has so far featured five strikingly original music remix videos: ‘Midnight Mood’, based on Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt No. 1; ‘Beethoven’s Twilight’, inspired by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony; ‘Ascending Swans’, based on Sibelius’s ‘Song of Praise’ from the Swanwhite Suite; ‘Nutty Christmas’, a fun seasonal take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker; and ‘Midnight Sun’ , written and remixed by Kristjan Järvi and recorded by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, featuring solos by Estonian bagpipe player Mari Meentalo published also as single on BMG/Modern Recordings. All other audio tracks from the ‘Musical Chain’ series have been released on the Estonian label nEscapes. In 2021, the ‘Musical Chain’ project was extended with the ‘Producers Edition’, which invites Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians to create their own music and videos and gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents as composers, producers, scriptwriters, sound engineers and videographers. The first track and music video of the ‘Producers Edition’ called ‘Hollow in the tree’ that was entirely written and produced by Baltic Sea Philharmonic musicians, has been released in April 2022.
In 2022 the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will once again be able to travel thousands of miles around Europe, beginning in March with a tour of ‘Nordic Swans’ to Belgium, Germany and Poland. In July and August, the orchestra and Kristjan Järvi will perform special concerts at the Pärnu Music Festival and the Birgitta Festival in Estonia. In the second half of 2022, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic will once again bring the magical power of fairy tales to life. Kristjan Järvi’s own reworkings of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker showcases the quintessential colour and drama of the great Russian composer’s theatre music. The programme including the Nutcracker among others will be performed at the Usedom Music Festival and in Tallinn in September as well as on a tour of Switzerland in December.
‘I want to create transformational environments. The audience should feel as if they are suddenly entering a new dimension, a world where anything is possible’ Kristjan Järvi
‘The members of the orchestra embody international understanding; they use music as a timeless language that can be understood across borders’
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
‘Musical Chain is a very own kind of orchestral music clips in perfect sound quality. Inspired by classical works. It is meant to commemorate when Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians formed a human chain over 600 kilometers in 1989 to demonstrate for their freedom. Now the orchestra members are the unifying force.’
Juliane Voigt, Northern German Broadcasting ‘
He calls his Sleeping Beauty a “dramatic symphony” and indeed the result is gripping, intoxicating, dazzlingly beautiful. With his highly motivated Baltic Sea Philharmonic, Järvi gives the orchestra the role of a narrator.’
Lars von der Gönna, West German General Newspaper
‘Kristjan Järvi and his orchestra give a dramatically engaging account of the conductor’s new arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, which fizzes with energy.’
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
‘Playing by heart undoubtedly welds the ensemble together both physically and mentally, and strengthens communication. The atmosphere was carnival-like and colourful, with Järvi inspiring his players like a circus ringmaster’
Hannu Lampila, Helsingin Sanomat
‘Keeping Stravinsky’s high-octane score from crashing under its own weight is no easy feat for an orchestra, let alone one with all the notes 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.’
Joachim Mischke, Hamburger Abendblatt
‘In Kristjan Järvi’s condensed, dramatic-symphony arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s enormous score, the ballet numbers emerged as fireworks. The orchestra sprang from dance to dance, from waltz to polka to pas de deux, one eruption following another, creating a tumultuous sensation. That the Biography 4 musicians played this enormously difficult score completely by heart, while standing, dancing and smiling, and in constant interaction with each other, bordered on the miraculous – a new freedom, music-making from another universe.’
Cornelia Meerkatz, Ostsee Zeitung
Alexander Datz, Press Officer, Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation e. V.
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