Kristjan Järvi wanted to do something extra special to celebrate the 80th birthday of Philip Glass, the renowned American composer of minimalist music (or ‘music with repetitive structures’ to use Glass’s preferred terminology). Kristjan had fallen in love with Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia when he first heard it performed by the experimental Brazilian group UAKTI. Originally conceived in the 1990s as a dance score for a ballet company in Belo Horizonte, the music is inspired by the great Amazon river and its tributaries, and is influenced by folklore, jazz and New Age elements. When Kristjan was planning the Baltic Sea Philharmonic’s repertoire for 2017 and developing his idea of fusing music with lighting and projection art, he knew that Aguas da Amazonia would be perfect for the ‘Waterworks’ tour. He says: ‘I called Philip up and said, “This is an amazing piece. Can I please get it orchestrated?” And he said, “Yes, let’s do it!” So I asked Charles Coleman to arrange it, and he’s done a brilliant job.’
A recording of the new orchestration, with Kristjan conducting the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and members of his New York-based Absolute Ensemble, was released earlier this year by Philip Glass’s label Orange Mountain Music.