Kremerata Baltica

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Kremerata Baltica

Chamber Orchestra

• Founded 1997


With his career reaching the greatest heights of international acclaim, violinist Gidon Kremer (born in 1947 in Riga, Latvia), was anxious to establish connections with the aspiring younger musicians of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and to share his rich artistic experience with them. In line with this conception, he created the chamber music collective known as the Kremerata Baltica in 1997; it is an ensemble identified with Kremer's eclectic and restless exploration of unusual repertory, as well as with fresh interpretations of standard works. Kremer's initiative has stimulated the independent musical life of the Baltic states, loosening the shackles that dire economic straits have placed on the arts.

The name Kremerata Baltica is a pun combining the violinist's name with the old designation of a chamber ensemble as a "Camerata"; the group sometimes adopts the unusual capitalization KREMERata BALTICA in printed materials. The Kremerata at first consisted of only 23 string musicians and performed its debut program to the audiences of Kremer's native Riga in February of 1997, on the occasion of his 50th birthday. In addition to works by Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Schubert, the orchestra played the music of Baltic composers Erkki-Sven Tüür (Estonia), Peteris Vasks (Latvia) and Feliksas Bajoras (Lithuania). The program additionally featured Sutartines, a work that echoes the tragic events of January 1991 in Lithuania, by Kremer's longtime friend Alfred Schnittke. Professor Saulius Sondeckis, the well-known conductor and artistic director of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, also conducted the Kremerata Baltica.

In the summer of 1997, the Kremerata Baltica played the Kremer-led Gstaad Festival (Switzerland), the Lockenhaus Festival (Austria), and the Salzburg Festival. The Kremerata began hosting its own festival in Sigulda, Latvia, in 2003. The Kremerata Baltica has toured extensively, visiting more than 600 cities across 50 different countries. On these tours, it has had several well-regarded guest conductors, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Christoph Eschenbach, and Kent Nagano, among others. It has also performed with many world-class soloists, including Jessye Norman, Evgeny Kissin, Yo-Yo Ma, and Mischa Maisky.

As the 20th century neared its end, the Kremerata Baltica experienced considerable commercial success with recordings of music by the "holy minimalist" composer Arvo Pärt and by the tango-classical fusionist Astor Piazzolla. The Kremerata has recorded for several labels, including ECM, Profil, and Nonesuch. In 2019, Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica performed under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla on the Deutsche Grammophon album Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 21; this was nominated for a Grammy award later that year.