On 2 July 2021, the Riga Jurmala Music Festival has announced that musicians from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, the Oslo Philharomonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will come together to honour the great Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons. Under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner, the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra will debut at this year’s Riga Jurmala Music Festival’s opening weekend (16 – 18 July) in lieu of the previously announced Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which withdrew due to COVID-19-related circumstances. The Festival has further announced modified admission procedures for the first weekend, resulting in markedly increased capacities.
The creation of the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra was triggered by the recent cancellation of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra due to COVID-19-related issues. Less than four weeks before the first performance, the musicians of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra mobilised to create a bespoke orchestra comprising members of their own orchestra as well as those from the the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouworkest, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, united in their fervent admiration for Mariss Jansons. With the approval of Jansons’ spouse, Irina Jansons, the new ensemble is named the Mariss Jansons Festival Orchestra.
“Mariss loved all the musicians in his orchestras and the musicians loved him. And I think this mutual emotional bond could also be felt by the audience in the performances. He was a great admirer of Claudio Abbado and his Lucerne Festival Orchestra; somehow Mariss had always wished for something similar. It means a lot to me that this wish is now being granted to him,” explains Irina Jansons.