As always, music is centre stage as the Baltic Sea Festival offers up a festival week brimming with content from the 9th to the 18th of September. This year’s festival centres on hope for the future, and the highly anticipated new beginning many of us are waiting for. A new beginning for exchange and collaboration across borders, and for conversations about the issues that bind us together. The theme is rebirth and culture’s role when society opens up again. New for this year are the Baltic Sea Studio’s daily broadcasts, which make the festival even more accessible to international audiences.
“After living with the pandemic for over a year, a period unique to our time that has meant great challenges for everyone, we now focus on what it means when our world reopens – both on the personal level and in society at large. In this year's festival, both the music and the conversations are linked to hope and to the desire to create a sustainable society for the environment,” says Staffan Becker, General Manager, Berwaldhallen, and continues…
“When the pandemic struck in March last year, we at Berwaldhallen quickly switched to streaming our concerts. By offering our concerts online, we significantly broadened our audience both nationally and internationally. As it is still too early to know what the situation allows in September, it seems natural that we continue sharing our festival program through streaming of both the concerts and the talks. In close collaboration with stages around the Baltic Sea, we invite you to a unique festival that once again forges a closer bond between countries in our region, that during the pandemic at times had to close their borders to each other,” says Becker.
A Festival Experience Broadcast Live
All concerts throughout the festival will be performed at Berwaldhallen, with a seated audience. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed on the premises in September. Image broadcasts on Berwaldhallen Play allow the festival and the music to reach the whole Baltic Sea area live. This year, the festival will be even more accessible to international audiences, through the Baltic Sea Studio’s daily broadcasts in English, with Erik Blix and Malin Jacobson Båth hosting.
"Music is an international language. When times have been challenging, it has given the power to change us, to see the world and our lives differently. And when we finally look towards a rebirth of society and of culture, music has an important role to engender different emotions and to bring relief and hope and joy. This is why we chose rebirth as the theme for this year's festival and this theme is reflected in some way in every day of the festival,” says Christian Thompson, Head of Artistic Planning at Berwaldhallen.
“We hope that the audience will be inspired by the festival’s programme of talks, which also has the overall theme rebirth and new beginnings. Following this pandemic, when borders have been closed, we want to shine a light on the importance of listening to each other. We want to raise the many different voices from around the Baltic Sea this year. The talk in Stockholm on the 10th of November will be broadcast from Kista Library, which is a new partner and festival stage. We are also pleased to welcome Voksenåsen in Oslo into the collaboration,” says Emma Nyberg, Project Manager for the Baltic Sea Festival.
Seven Days of Music and Talks
The festival begins on Thursday the 9th of September with a dazzling opening concert, featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first talk takes place at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, where author Carsten Jensen talks about his latest book Exercises in Saying Goodbye: a Corona Review, about whether it’s possible to find power for collective change in a personal loss.
The next day, the 10th of September, will see a double premiere of two works by Britta Byström: Ink-Wash on Paper, which is performed alongside projected images by artist Gunnel Wåhlstrand, and A Room of One’s Own, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay. Mendelssohn’s Octet is also performed, by Malin Broman and others. The talk is broadcast from Kista Library, where the founder of the Järva Week, Ahmed Abdirahman and author and journalist Johanna Koljonen, talk about how culture can help us to build a sustainable world.
The third day of the festival, the 11th of September, offers music by Bach, Dutilleux and Stravinsky, performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Klaus Mäkelä, Principal Guest Conductor. The soloists are Peter Mattei, baritone, and Miklós Perényi, cello. The talk, with authors Jacek Dahnel and Piotr Tarczyński, broadcast from St John’s Church in Gdańsk, is titled “Art as Resistance”.
There will be a family concert on the 12th of September. The programme is yet to be announced. Today’s talk, “Young Music and Sustainability”, which is broadcast from the Museum of Modern Art in Vilnius, is a meeting between Marta Finkelštein and Sandra Galdikaite, who both work with issues concerning young people’s creativity and relationship with the environment.
There is a break in the programme from the 13th to the 15th of September, and on Thursday the 16th of September, the festival is back with the Radio Choir, led by Kaspars Putninš, and concert “The Baltic Seasons”. There will be works by Kaija Saariaho, Pēteris Vasks and Jan Sandström, with a world premiere for a new piece by Jan Sandström. Today’s talk, featuring prominent guests, is broadcast from Hanaholmen in Helsinki.
On the 17th of September, the Stenhammar Quartet will perform Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. A unique experience where the singularly beautiful music is combined with selected words delivered by representatives of the seven world religions. Dramaturgy and direction by Magnus Lindman. The talk from Voksenåsen in Oslo is titled “Our Joint Responsibility”. The participants are Knut Storberget, former Minister of Justice in Norway, and Elisabeth Åsbrink, author and journalist.
The festival ends with a talk from Riga on the 18th of September, featuring composer Raimonds Tiguls, and author Nora Ikstena, two of Latvia’s most influential cultural figures, and creators of oratorio The Book of the Sea. The final concert is Handel’s Messiah, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Radio Choir, led by Reinhard Goebel, with world-class soloists.
Voksenåsen in Oslo, Hanahomen in Helsinki, the Latvian National Library in Riga, the Museum of Modern Art in Vilnius, the Kista Library, and the National Library of Denmark – the Black Diamond – in Copenhagen will show broadcasts of the live concerts on big screens following the talks. The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre in Gdańsk will broadcast from the St John Church in Gdańsk. Other collaboration partners for the festival are the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Swedish Institute, Södertörn University, and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
Biographies of the speakers and other participants can be found on www.balticseafestival.com