The Baltic Sea Festival 2018 offers a sumptuous buffet of new works and timeless classics – opera, folk song and Swedish jazz

The sixteenth Baltic Sea Festival opens with Mahler’s 8th symphony and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding. The year, the festival celebrates the centenary of the foundation of the Baltic states. The hit opera, Autumn Sonata, based on the film by Ingmar Bergman, is performed by the Finnish National Opera Choir and Orchestra. Acclaimed guest orchestras such as the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Royal Swedish Orchestra and Sinfonietta Riga are also back. In addition, the festival presents the première of a new Swedish composition by Jesper Nordin. 

Many renowned conductors, like Valery Gergiev, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Daniel Harding and Dalia Stasevska, visit the festival, as are internationally recognized opera singers such as Anne Sofie von Otter, Erika Sunnegårdh and Daniel Johansson. Distinguished jazz pianist Rita Marcotulli participate in a concert tribute to jazz legend Jan Johansson, and the festival also celebrate the centenary of choirmaster Eric Ericson with a concert featuring three Baltic choirs. We will also be hearing music from more unusual instruments, such as nyckelharpa and gestrument. The festival concludes with a concert tribute to the festival’s artistic director, Esa-Pekka Salonen. 

– It is with enormous gratitude that I think of my friends and co-founders of the Baltic Sea Festival – Valery Gergiev and Esa-Pekka Salonen – and what we have achieved together. It is with great joy and pride that I look back over 16 years of musical and artistic collaboration between the countries around the Baltic, with friendships across borders and with such love for music and nature. In an era of growing tension in the world, this kind of cooperation is incredibly important, says Michael Tydén, General Manager of the Baltic Sea Festival.


August 22: The sixteenth Baltic Sea Festival opens with Mahler’s Symphony no. 8, by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding. They are not alone on stage, seven choirs participate, as well as singers such as Hanna Husáhr, soprano, Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano and Simon O’Neill, tenor.

August 23: Celebrating the Baltic States! Sinfonietta Riga and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Normunds Šnē, treat us to music by Béla Bartók, Bohuslav Martinů and Pēteris Vasks. Soloist Marc Bouchkov, violin. 

August 24: The Royal Swedish Orchestra, conducted by Domingo Hindoyan, present grandiose drama in Verdi’s Requiem, with the Royal Swedish Opera and Göteborg Opera choirs, Christina Nilsson, soprano, Miriam Treichl, alto, Daniel Johansson, tenor and Anders Lorentzson, bass.

August 25: Jazz legend Jan Johansson is celebrated by big bands and jazz ensembles, conducted by Lennart Åberg and Georg Riedel, with Rita Marcotulli on the piano and Amanda Sedgwick on the saxophone, among others.

August 26: Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatres Orchestra invites you to an evening of Stravinsky, with a couple of favourite works by this world-famous orchestra. They will be performing The Firebird and Petrushka, as well as music from The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov.

August 27: Ingmar Bergman’s film Autumn Sonata has been turned into opera, with music by Sebastian Fagerlund. The opera premièred to great acclaim in Helsinki last autumn. Now they are coming to the Baltic Sea Festival, accompanied by the Finnish National Opera Choir och Orchestra, conducted by Dalia Stasevska. Soloists, in this concert version, are Anne Sofie von Otter, Erika Sunnegårdh, Tommi Hakala, Helena Juntunen, among others.

August 28: Legendary choirmaster, Eric Ericson, would have turned 100 this year. He is celebrated by three choirs from the Baltic region, the Swedish Radio Choir, the Latvian Radio Choir and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, guided by the conductors Tõnu Kaljuste and Sigvards Kļava. It features choral pieces by Raminta Šerkšnytė, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Ingvar Lidholm, Arnold Schönberg and others.

August 29: Simon Crawford-Phillips, leads Västerås Sinfonietta in a classical concert with a twist of folk-song, with works by Beethoven, Haydn and Stravinsky, as well as a new work written by Mirjam Tally. Emilia Amper, on nyckelharpa

August 30: The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra visit the festival with star conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. They will perform Piano Concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Songs of Sunset and Dawn by Raminta Šerkšnytė, as well as songs by prominent Lithuanian soloists and the Swedish Radio Choir. 

August 31: When Martin Fröst, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jesper Nordin, together with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, bring us the première of Nordin’s work Emerging from Currents and Waves, in which the conductor and the clarinettist also play the gestrument and with choreographer Virpi Pahkinen involved ­– we are surely in for an extraordinary experience.

September 1: The festival concludes with a concert tribute to the festival’s artistic director, Esa-Pekka Salonen. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the very object of the celebrations, will perform music by Beethoven and Salonen among others. Soloist Truls Mørk, cello.

Music, Environment and Leadership

Several seminars will be held during the week revolving around the three cornerstones of the festival: music, environment and leadership. The seminar programme will be presented during the spring. Our collaboration continues with the WWF, the Institute of International Affairs and the Raoul Wallenberg Academy.

The Baltic Sea Festival 2018 takes place over eleven days, August 22 to September 1. All concerts are performed at Berwaldhallen. Tickets go on sale on February 22.

Press contact and more information

For interviews and accreditation, please contact: Carin Balfe Arbman, Press Officer Baltic Sea Festival, Berwaldhallen, phone: +46 70-633 35 08,

Press photos from the press meeting February 22, 2018

For queries about Berwaldhallen’s other programmes, contact: Karl Thorson, Press Officer Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Choir, phone: +46 70-431 18 93,

Berwaldhallen is the concert hall of the Swedish Radio. SR P2 broadcast all concerts during the Baltic Sea Festival, some also via EBU to countries all over Europe. Berwaldhallen hosts the annual Baltic Sea Festival, an international music festival that was established in 2003 by Michael Tydén, then manager of Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor and composer, as well as Valery Gergiev, conductor and manager of the Mariinskij Theatre in Saint Petersburg. The Baltic Sea Festival focuses on three main areas to create a better future for the Baltic Sea region: music, environment and leadership.