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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Baltic Sea Philharmonic: Experience a multisensory journey of music’s classical greats, themed on water

The ensemble, hailing from the 10 countries that share the Baltic, will present a show celebrating the healing power of water

Baltic Sea Philharmonic perform ‘Waterworks’ in Berlin last year. The orchestra bring the show on the healing power of water to the UAE tonight. Courtesy Baltic Sea Philharmonic
Baltic Sea Philharmonic perform ‘Waterworks’ in Berlin last year. The orchestra bring the show on the healing power of water to the UAE tonight. Courtesy Baltic Sea Philharmonic

A serene and glacial music experience awaits those attending the Baltic Sea Philharmonic UAE shows this week. The ensemble of 60 musicians, drawn from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Poland and Denmark – 10 countries that share the Baltic Sea. They’ll bring a sold-out performance of their latest show to Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace tonight, and Dubai Opera on Wednesday – tickets for the latter are still available.

More than a classical music concert, the orchestra’s latest creation, Waterworks has been described as a magazine-style picture story. Evocative pieces by composers Handel and Phillip Glass will be paired with moody lighting and visuals as the concert attempts to capture the thrust and flow of the liquid of life.

The orchestra’s Estonian conductor, Kristjan Jarvi, says it is a deep concept, but one doesn’t have to be too invested in it to enjoy the experience. “The whole aim is to take the audience on a journey. It is similar to what a company like Cirque du Soleil does,” he says. “The only difference is that they have a visual show that is enhanced by the music, while we have a music show that’s enhanced by the visuals.”

There is painstaking attention to detail paid to both the sound and sights of Waterworks. Splashes and raindrops will echo around the concert hall, while the screen will project waves that pulsate and cascade with the music.

Abu Dhabi will have a slightly shorter show of 75 minutes without an intermission, while the Dubai performance will be a two-hour spectacle. “The show begins with Handel’s Water Music because Handel was born in Germany. He was originally part of our Baltic compositional fabric,” Jarvi says. “But it will be our interpretation and not a straight-up version of it. It is an important piece because it sets the mood and creates a flow of sorts.”

The orchestra’s take on this celebrated classic includes combining the original composition with arrangements by contemporary composers such as Russia’s Gene Pritsker and the United States’s Charles Coleman. Another piece that’s a hallmark of Waterworks show is Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia.

“The music represents how we are from this region, but are also connected to the whole world,” Jarvi says. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s the waters of the Baltic or the Amazon, everything is connected.”

It is a message that Jarvi and the orchestra have increasingly experienced throughout their travels. Since its formation in the Latvian capital of Riga in 2008, the orchestra has kept its performances limited to within Europe, with prestigious engagements such as White Nights Music Festival in St Petersburg and Bonn’s Beethovenfest. The orchestra’s two UAE dates mark the first of what is planned to be a series of shows outside of the continent.

Jarvi says the orchestra’s multicultural nature provides them with the right mind set to experience the best the world has to offer. “The orchestra comes from 10 countries and some are big like Russia and Germany and some are smaller like my country Estonia. But in the orchestra, you realise that none of that really matters,” he says.

“When it comes to music, all the borders that we place in our mind disappear, because you realise that we are one big family. Honestly, this whole thing that we are doing is essentially about unity and harmony. I am excited about bringing that message to the UAE, it should be really great.”

Baltic Sea Philharmonic perform at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, today. The show is sold out. They also perform on Wednesday at Dubai Opera. Tickets cost from Dh200, and are available at www.dubaiopera.com

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