In 1997, Austria’s legendary Lockenhaus chamber music festival was a witness to a small revolution, when the violinist Gidon Kremer presented a brand new orchestra: Kremerata Baltica, comprising 23 young players from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. They conquered the discerning audience immediately, injecting new blood into the festival with their exuberance, energy and joy in playing.
Kremerata Baltica, an educational project with a long-term vision, was Kremer’s 50th birthday present to himself: a way of passing on his rich artistic experience to young colleagues from the Baltic states while making no compromises on artistic standards as he nurtured and inspired musical life in the region. In few years the talented group of musicians developed into one of the best international chamber orchestras in the world and has cemented its international reputation in major concert venues around the world.
In the last 15 years Kremerata Baltica has played in more than 50 countries, performing in 600 cities and giving more than 1000 concerts in the whole world: Asia, Australia, the USA, Latin America, and all over the Europe. It has released more than 20 CD-s and won the Grammy Award and ECHO prize in 2002, Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists in 2009.
Governments of three Baltic States support the orchestra, from where all orchestra musicians are coming from - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Among the celebrated soloists with whom Kremerata Baltica has played are soprano Jessye Norman; pianists Martha Argerich, Mikhail Pletnev, Evgeny Kissin, Oleg Maisenberg, Daniil Trifonov; violinists Thomas Zehetmair, Vadim Repin, Didier Lockwood; cellists Boris Pergamenschikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky; conductors include Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Christoph Eschenbach, Kent Nagano, Heinz Holliger, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. Each of these musicians has contributed to shaping the chamber orchestra.
Essential to Kremerata Baltica’s artistic personality is its creative approach to programming, which often looks beyond the mainstream and has given rise to numerous world premieres of works by composers such as Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Pēteris Vasks, Leonid Desyatnikov and Alexander Raskatov. The orchestra’s wide-ranging and carefully chosen repertoire is also showcased in its numerous and much-praised CD recordings. “After Mozart”, a 21st century take on the composer, won an internationally coveted Grammy Award and German ECHO prize in 2002. Some latest CD-s from the record label Nonesuch include “De profundis” and "Hymns and Prayers" with Gidon Kremer, and "The Art of Instrumentation: Homage to Glenn Gould" (released in September 2012 for Glenn Goulds 80th birthday), album comprising 11 pieces and arrangements by contemporary composers that quote from or are inspired by works, mostly by Johann Sebastian Bach, that Glenn Gould famously recorded during his career.
One of the recent recordings “Mieczysław Weinberg” (2014, ECM) was recorded with Gidon Kremer and soloists at Neuhardenberg and Lockenhaus in 2012 and 2013, and makes a strong case for Shostakovich’s assertion that Weinberg was one of the great composers of his era. The recording was highly appreciated by music professionals and was nominated for a Grammy award in “Best Classical Compendium” category. In 2015 a recording „New Seasons“ was released with Deutsche Grammophon, including P. Glass Violin Concerto No.2 „The American Four Seasons“, as well works by A. Pärt, G. Kancheli and S. Umebayashi.
Latest orchestra CD, released by ECM and issued shortly after G.Kancheli’s 80th birthday, features first recordings of composer’s two major works: “Chiaroscuro” for violin and chamber orchestra and “Twilight” for two violins and chamber orchestra, performed by Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra and violinists Gidon Kremer and Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Kremerata Baltica is a welcomed guest at a number of cities and institutions, like Schloss Neuhardenberg (Berlin) and Schloss Elmau (Bavaria), Esterhazy Foundation in Eisenstadt, Lockenhaus Chamber music festival, and many others. Kremerata Baltica holds its own Festival in Sigulda, Latvia since 2003.
Some of the most memorable recent performances include orchestra’s participation in the concert for Human rights in Russia "To Russia With Love" held in October, 2013 at Berlin Philharmonie together with the world known soloists Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Elsbeth Moser, Nicolas Altstaedt, Khatia Buniatishvili, Emanuel Pahud, Sergey Nakaryakov. Kremerata Baltica is also a part of “All About Gidon” project - a half-scenic concert show with music from J. Haydn to A. Piazzolla, where Gidon Kremer reflects on his career in a musical and rhetorical way. Another exciting experience for the last couple of years for Kremerata Baltica are joint performances with Gidon Kremer and the mime Slava Polunin with his group in project SNOW SYMPHONY. Original musical spectacle created by two living virtuosos of the 20th century was highly acclaimed by the audience of Israel on it’s premiere in 2011 and has been presented to listeners of Russia and Europe. Also, this year another noteworthy project was launched - Philip Glass's "The American Four Seasons” supplemented with contemporary video projections by renowned visual artists.
The newest project was launched in 2015 – “Masks and Faces” in collaboration with Gidon Kremer and acclaimed Russian painter and philosopher Maxim Kantor.