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 1996; 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 average age of the those selected to Kremerata Baltica--on the basis of a rigorous audition process--is twenty-two years, and the group at first consisted of only twenty-five string musicians. The ensemble's debut program was offered to the audiences of Kremer's native Riga in February of 1997, on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. In addition to works by Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Schubert, the orchestra also played the music of Baltic composers Erkki-Sven-Tüür (Estonia), Peteris Vasks (Latvia) and Feliksas Bajoras (Lithuania). Also on the program was Sutartines, a work which 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 takes a turn as conductor of the Kremerata Baltica. In the summer of 1997, the Kremerata Baltica played the Kremer-led Gstaad Festival (Switzerland) and Lockenhaus Festival(Austria); and also performed at the Salzburg Festival. As the twentieth century neared its end, the Kremerata Baltica experienced considerable commercial success with recordings of music by the "holy minimalist" Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt and by the Argentine tango-classical fusionist Astor Piazzolla. The ensemble's name 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.