BMEF Newsletter – Issue 10 – September  2016
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Half-time scores

Greetings from the midpoint of Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour. As we get ready for tonight’s show in Copenhagen, the orchestra has played in three countries – Lithuania, Russia and Poland – and has two more to go: Denmark and Germany, where it plays its final concert in Peenemünde. Lidia Baich has passed the violin baton over to Gidon Kremer for the next leg of performances of Weinberg’s Violin Concerto and we have welcomed the players of Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica on to the team in a unique collaboration that sees them embedded within the Baltic Sea Philharmonic. The members of the orchestra may be a bit tired, but are excited about the second half, and Kristjan Järvi is helping them find the energy they need to fulfil the artistic and communal goals of the tour.

The story so far

The Baltic Sea Philharmonic team has been together since 11 September, when they all met in Kintai, Lithuania, for an intensive rehearsal period, under the guidance of Kristjan Järvi. Rehearsing in the beautiful old church there, close to the Baltic Sea itself, they worked on repertoire for the entire tour, including Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, Mieczysław Weinberg’s Violin Concerto in G minor and Peter Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Concert Suite, in an arrangement by Kristjan Järvi.
Kintai was a perfect place in which to focus, and to foster the orchestra’s passion for the environment, says Kristjan: ‘It was the most ideal surrounding, not only because of the weather, but because of the location – the lack of concrete, the lack of city. We were completely in nature.’
Their first concert, in Klaipėda Concert Hall, Lithuania, sold out, and had audiences on their feet for the encores that have now become a tradition for the orchestra. From Lithuania, Baltic Sea Philharmonic travelled to Russia, where it made its second stop at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Kaliningrad.
The ‘discovery’ theme of the tour is already proving apt – cor anglais player Ivana Jenesova says: ‘I think we’re discovering each other and also ourselves, because we have lots of opportunities to play better than we played the day before. I can hear it. When we play together, it’s a bit different every time. I can hear how it’s changing me.’
For the first two concerts, the Weinberg Violin Concerto was performed by St. Petersburg-born violinist Lidia Baich, and the orchestra was joined in Gdańsk and for the rest of the tour, by Gidon Kremer and members of his orchestra, Kremerata Baltica.
In this unique collaboration, five members of Gidon Kremer’s chamber orchestra are leading the string sections of the orchestra for the next concerts in Copenhagen and Peenemünde, offering members of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic the chance to learn from their experience. Gidon Kremer also offered the players inspiring words, speaking to them in their first rehearsal together about Weinberg’s artistic mission to find a way to express himself as an individual, and encouraging the young musicians to make this their own mission, too.
The orchestra is now preparing to play a special after-work ‘metro’ concert in Copenhagen, and tomorrow travels to Sønderborg, where the players will perform five concerts for young students, offering many of them the chance to experience the joy of classical music for the first time ever. The tour ends – fittingly – in Peenemünde, on the island of Usedom, where the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic was initiated, back in 2008.
Follow Baltic Sea Philharmonic on its ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a view from the road, and from the musicians themselves.


Thank you, Lidia!

As we reach the halfway point of our ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ tour, we say goodbye and thank you to Lidia Baich, who was our soloist for the first two performances of the Weinberg Violin Concerto.
This was Lidia’s first performance with Baltic Sea Philharmonic, but not with Kristjan Järvi, with whom she has toured the UK as a soloist with the Vienna Tonkünstler Symphony Orchestra. She says, ‘Kristjan Järvi has always had his very own extraordinary way and mission in making music and I like his passionate approach with music and art.’
Although she was born in St. Petersburg, Lidia is only a recent convert to the beauty of the Baltic Sea region: ‘I visited the Baltic Sea last year for the first time and was overwhelmed by its infinity and beauty. As I am a passionate admirer of nature, sea, forests and wilderness, I see this very special place as an inspiration.’
The concert emphasised how the orchestra’s commitment to freedom is as important as ever, which is also demonstrated by our work to support unity in the Nordic region, an area that was historically divided. In this spirit, the concert in Gdańsk was dedicated to freedom in Europe, and held in the appropriate location – the European Solidarity Centre. The concert sent signs of peace and mutual understanding, not only between Poland and Germany, but also across the entire region.

Musical solidarity

Sunday’s concert in Gdańsk held extra significance for taking place in the European Solidarity Centre, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the German–Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourship in 1991. Built on the location of the former Lenin Shipyard, where strikes in the 1970s triggered a series of events that led to martial law and ultimately to the fall of communism and to European unity, the centre houses a museum, which documents these events in a multimedia display that brings the history alive. Many of the musicians took the opportunity to visit this powerful museum before the concert.
The concert was preceded by speeches by dignitaries including Cornelia Pieper, German Consul General in Gdańsk, and Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of Gdańsk. Lech Wałęsa, who led the Solidarność movement and the revolution, also gave a speech as well as former German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel.
Kristjan spoke at the end of the appropriateness of the orchestra playing in the venue, with the orchestra’s theme of togetherness, saying, ‘Together we are strong. The message here is to use culture as a tool, a vehicle, to make our societies powerful.’
The concert emphasised how the orchestra’s commitment to freedom is as important as ever, which is also demonstrated by our work to support unity in the Nordic region, an area that was historically divided. In this spirit, the concert in Gdańsk was dedicated to freedom in Europe, and held in the appropriate location – the European Solidarity Centre. The concert sent signs of peace and mutual understanding, not only between Poland and Germany, but also across the entire region.


Players talk

In our latest storyboard, we listen in on a conversation between two musicians from Baltic Sea Philharmonic, as they discuss the benefits of being in the orchestra. Alexey Mikhaylenko is a clarinettist from Russia who joined Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic in 2011, and Miranda Erlich is a double bass player from Germany, who first played in the ‘Baltic Sea Landscapes’ tour in April this year.
The two discuss the unique audition process. Alexey remembers: ‘My first audition was for Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, in 2011. It’s not like auditions I’ve done for other youth orchestras, where you go in and play, and they say something and you leave. In this case it was a masterclass. We were trying together to figure out ways to play, and talked about things outside of the audition. It was very relaxing. That’s how an audition has to be.’
Miranda agrees: ‘In the audition I got a feeling about how the orchestra is, because Jan Bjøranger, the violin coach, wanted to show me something. He had never played the double bass before, but he wasn’t too shy to say, “Can I show you something?” and to take my bass. It was funny. I was so happy when I found out my audition was successful and I could join the orchestra, and that it would be like that all the time.’
The two players also agree on the impact of working with Kristjan. Alexey explains: ‘His point is to create a new generation of musicians, a new community, a new way of orchestral playing, and a new orchestra. The orchestra as an ensemble is already over two hundred years old, and it has to be changed, and that’s one of his points: to change the principles of the orchestra. And it works, it really does. Usually when you play in an orchestra you just do whatever the conductor says. You just sit and try to play the right notes, with a good tone, and not to make mistakes. But with Kristjan, you can make as many mistakes as you want because you’re learning and you’re trying to get out of this box.’
Miranda adds: ‘Exactly. I remember when we had a sectional rehearsal and we had some new ideas for the music that were not in the score. Kristjan came in and we showed him our ideas, and he was so impressed. That’s a special thing, that the musicians can have ideas and tell him how they feel about the music and he might say, “That’s a cool idea. Let’s try it.” I’ve never seen that before.’
Read the full conversation on our storyboard here.


Discovering the undiscovered

The title for this tour, ‘Baltic Sea Discovery’ represents the discovery of exciting new places, people, things and knowledge, as well as new friends, colleagues and audiences, and the repertoire is also carefully chosen around the theme, too, and offers a perfect balance. Kristjan explains: ‘We’re bringing together different elements of new, popular, and completely undiscovered music, which is why we’re calling it the “Baltic Sea Discovery” tour.’
The ‘undiscovered’ music is the Violin Concerto of Mieczysław Weinberg, a powerful work that is rarely played, but which Gidon Kremer has personally championed. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is one of the world’s best-loved ballets, and Kristjan’s own symphonic adaptation offers its famous tunes, but also some of the lesser-known themes, which he spins together seamlessly, offering audiences the chance both to discover and rediscover this timeless classic. The third work is Arvo Pärt’s Swansong, an orchestral version of his 1999 choral work, Littlemore Tractus, based on a text by theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Find out more about the entire tour programme 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. Video by BMEF/Adrien LeGall. Text by BMEF/Ariane Todes. Design by Brousse & Ruddigkeit.

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Baltic Sea Music Education Foundation e. V. · Schiffbauerdamm 12 · Berlin 10117 · Germany

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