August 23, 2013 saw the opening of the 11th season of the Baltic Sea Festival, one of the major festivals in Europe and internationally renowned for its focus on emerging leadership in the classical music world. Salonen - a co-founder of the festival along with Michael Tydén and Valery Gergiev - serves as Artistic Director. The Baltic Sea Festival was created to bring environmental awareness to a larger audience. In the words of Tydén, “After ten successful years, the Baltic Sea Festival is – to say the least – alive and well; with this year’s festival we proudly present a range of new collaborations and world-class musical experiences. We are glad we can attract so many important actors in music, the environment and leadership, and once again have the opportunity to create a meeting place that puts focus on cooperation and on our vulnerable inland sea, the Baltic.”
This year, the festival began and ended under the baton of two of its founders. On opening night, Salonen conducted Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Opera and The Royal Opera Choir. On August 24, he conducted the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in two Beethoven symphonies and a work of his own, Nyx. The Mariinsky Theater Orchestra and maestro Valery Gergiev concluded the festival with two concerts. Composer Rodion Shchedrin, who is turning 80, was celebrated in a program with four world-renowned pianists performing his first four piano concertos. Finally, the festival presented a full evening of Stravinsky with Petrushka, The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, which was performed for the first time 100 years ago. The festival also featured a new, exciting collaboration: Mozart’s The Magic Flute was performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra at Drottningholms Slottsteater. This concert version of the opera was conceived by principal conductor Daniel Harding and tenor Andrew Staples, and was previously performed at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Additionally, the Baltic Sea Festival concentrated on new expressions, in concerts such as Miss Very Wagner with Charlotte Engelkes, Signs of an Open Eye by Jesper Kurlandsky and Late Night Soprano, all of which make use of visual and electroacoustic media in combination with classical music. Throughout the festival seminars were held around the music, the environment and leadership. A new collaboration was launched with the Raoul Wallenberg Academy, which devotes itself to young leadership. Additionally, the Baltic Sea Festival observed Lithuania’s presidency of the EU with a concert featuring the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra.
Esa-Pekka Salonen's restless innovation has marked him as one of the most important artists in classical music. He is currently the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Conductor Laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Music Director from 1992 until 2009. His pieces Floof and LA Variations have become established modern classics. A retrospective of his work was presented at Festival Présences Paris in February 2011. This past season, Salonen celebrated the centenary of two major events: the of the birth of Witold Lutosławski, his mentor, and the premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. He marked the Stravinsky anniversary both with performances of The Rite of Spring and with his award-winning RE-RITE, a digital immersion project with the Philharmonia. Earlier this summer, Salonen led a new production of Strauss’ Elektra directed by Patrice Chéreau at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Salonen’s extensive recording career includes a CD of his orchestral works performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, which he also conducted, as well as a disc of his Piano Concerto and Helix and Dichotomie. The latter disc, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Yefim Bronfman, was nominated for a Grammy Award. 2012 saw the release of the first-ever recording of Shostakovich’s previously undiscovered opera prologue Orango with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the release of Out of Nowhere, a collection of the Salonen's Grawemeyer Award-winning Violin Concerto and Nyx, featuring Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this season, Salonen released two new albums honoring two of his musical inspirations: Henri Dutilleux and Witold Lutosławski. Correspondances, with Barbara Hannigan, Anssi Karttunen, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, features pieces by Dutilleux never previously recorded. Lutosławski: The Symphonies is a 2-CD set of the composer's complete symphonies recorded with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.