BMEF Newsletter – Issue 08 – June 2016
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What’s next for Baltic Sea Philharmonic?

Following the launch tour of new Baltic Sea Philharmonic in April, in this newsletter we take a moment to look back at its success, as well as looking forward to exciting prospects for this year.
In case you couldn’t join our ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour, we share with you some of the highlights and achievements that herald a new era for the Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation and for music in the Baltic Sea region, and we find out more about the philosophy of Baltic Sea Philharmonic from Founding Conductor and Music Director Kristjan Järvi.
We never rest for long, though, and we’re already looking forward to exploring the region further in September, with our ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ programme, alongside Gidon Kremer. We hope you will join us in the next chapter of our story.

Looking back

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s inaugural ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour was hailed a major success, with concert halls packed and ecstatic responses from nearly 6,000 audience members. The orchestra was asked back for 24 encores in the 6 cities in which it performed, crossing nearly 2,000 km: Klaipeda (Lithuania), Liepāja (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland); St. Petersburg and Moscow (Russia).
Michael Mustillo of The Baltic Times wrote of the Liepāja concert: ‘It was an impeccable performance that was both electrifying and enthralling, and one which saw Järvi bringing down the house… He and his devoted musicians without doubt gave a life-enhancing musical experience.’
The key focus of the tour was the environment, with repertoire celebrating nature and wildlife, including Jean Sibelius’s Karelia Suite, Stravinsky’s Firebird, Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom) and Arvo Pärt’s Swansong. The orchestra was honoured to receive the joint patronage of the Ministers of the Environment for Finland, Estonia and Russia, the latter two attending the Helsinki concert, which raised money for the John Nurminen Foundation’s ‘Clean Baltic Sea’ projects. The concert in Tallinn was performed in the presence of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, one of the world’s most eminent musicians, and the young Lithuanian composer Gediminas Gelgotas joined us in Lithuania and Latvia, to hear the premiere of his piece.
Our special guest on the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour was the Georgian pianist Alexander Toradze, one of the world’s great Prokofiev interpreters, whose own teacher, Jakov Zak, was a friend of Prokofiev. He gave five performances of the Third Piano Concerto, including a special one in Moscow, on the 125th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Adding further dramatic power to the orchestra’s performances was a dynamic light show, and all the concerts ended up with carefully chosen encores, reflecting local folk culture, with audiences clapping and dancing along.
The tour came as the culmination of six days of hard work achieved at Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation’s intensive LAB sessions, which took place in Liepāja, Latvia. The 79 musicians of the orchestra, as well as 4 composition students, 4 conducting assistants and 8 coaches, worked together to bring the music to the high standards heard on tour.
Watch a video of the tour on our You Tube channel.

Join the movement

The launch of Baltic Sea Philharmonic and its ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour are the latest steps in the foundation’s ambitious plans. These demonstrate a philosophy that seeks to incorporate educational, social and environmental goals, making Baltic Sea Philharmonic much more than an orchestra. Kristjan Järvi explains: ‘We are going beyond any expectation of what an orchestra should be. There should be a reason for having an orchestra – not just to play music. We’re creating a movement that brings people together from Norway to Russia. Our economy is generated by our creativity, which comes from our culture, which comes from our environment. We have to take care of this Nordic region and the stronger we all are, the stronger we are as a region. Then we can set an example for the whole world.’
Understanding our connection to the environment is central to the orchestra’s mission, says Kristjan: ‘We all come from one region, with the same nature, forests and wildlife, and a sea that gives us the power to do anything. Everything is shaped by our environment – our food, language, architecture, fashion. If we don’t have that connection to that environment then we don’t have ourselves, our own identities. We are trying to establish this connection through culture.’ The repertoire for the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour reflected this connection, and so will the next tours and future projects of Baltic Sea Philharmonic.
The orchestra’s innovative streak even runs through the way it is organised, explains Kristjan: ‘We are creating an example of unity, a live social platform. This is a microcosm of the harmony that can exist in a united Northern Europe of 10 countries. At the same time, we are creating a new model of an orchestra as we’re trying to instil entrepreneurship and creativity, to create a synergy between musicians, where they have the power to be heard and their ideas are as important as their colleagues. They’re a team. It becomes a lifestyle.’
Find out more about Baltic Sea Philharmonic here.


Moscow night

The ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour finished on a high in Moscow, on 23 April, Prokofiev’s 125th birthday. Baltic Sea Philharmonic celebrated the special occasion with a performance of his Symphony No. 1 in D major, ‘Classical’, and accompanying pianist Alexander Toradze in the Third Piano Concerto.
The Georgian pianist is well known for his Prokofiev interpretations and his recording of the Third Piano Concerto was chosen as ‘best recording ever’ by International Piano Quarterly. He described the joy of playing with young orchestras: ‘The enthusiasm, willingness and attention you get from these young players puts you back to your own young years. It reminds you how exciting every note is, and should be, and any remark from your teacher makes it even more special.’
The orchestra also performed Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Gediminas Gelgotas’s Mountains. Waters. (Freedom) and Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird. At the end, Kristjan Järvi had the entire concert hall dancing to the final encore, a piece based on an Estonian folk song called Viljandi Suite.
You can watch our Moscow concert anytime, anywhere, here.

Looking forward

Plans are already well underway for our ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour in September. Following our successful launch through the northern part of the region – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia – Baltic Sea Philharmonic goes on with its tour around the Baltic Sea and focuses on the southern part. The tour will start again in Lithuania and then goes on to Russia (Kaliningrad), Poland, Denmark and Germany. We continue to champion the environment and at the same time, invite the audience to discover more of the unique Baltic Sea region with us. For the tour we will be joined by the celebrated Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer and members of his orchestra, Kremerata Baltica.
‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ presents new, popular, and completely undiscovered music from the region. Gidon Kremer will perform Mieczysław Weinberg’s rarely played Violin Concerto. Weinberg was born in Poland in 1919 and in 1939 fled to the Soviet Union, where he fell foul of the authorities for his Modernism, although he was staunchly defended by his friend, Shostakovich. His Violin Concerto, written in the 1960s, was premiered by Leonid Kogan, and it has an ideal champion in Kremer, one of the world’s most original and honest violinists.
Other repertoire takes the theme of the swan, with Arvo Pärt’s Swansong and Kristjan Järvi’s own orchestral arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s concert suite from Swan Lake. Kristjan explains the importance of the animal: ‘Swans are creatures of great purity and beauty, and all the Nordic countries have them in their culture, which is why we’re focusing the repertoire in this way.’
Members of Gidon Kremer’s own orchestra – Kremerata Baltica – will be embedded within the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, in a natural collaboration, as Kristjan describes: ‘It is great to be able to come together with Kremerata Baltica in a united front, because this is part of becoming the environmental and social ambassador for the whole region. As musicians we are all in the same boat together, working together for one cause.’
The ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour starts in Klaipeda in Lithuania (15 September), goes to Kaliningrad in Russia (16 September), continues to Gdansk in Poland (18 September), goes to Copenhagen in Denmark on 20 September and ends in Peenemünde in Germany on 24 September. The concert in Peenemünde marks a return for Kristjan Järvi and for some of the players to the Usedom Music Festival, where the original Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic was born in 2008.

See the tour schedule and book your concert tickets here.


Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation e. V., Strasse der Pariser Kommune 38, 10243 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 30 29 770 290, Fax: +49 (0) 30 29 770 292,

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BMEF © 2016. Photos by BMEF/Peter Adamik and Petri Porkola. Video by BMEF/Adrien LeGall. Text by BMEF/Ariane Todes.