After a construction journey spanning from 2019, the Musiikkitalo Concert Hall's organ facade has been completed, transforming it into a visually stunning masterpiece that rivals iconic structures like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Designed by Rieger Orgelbaun's organ designer Harald Schwarz and CEO Wendelin Eberle, the one-of-a-kind facade itself is a work of art. The handcrafted Rieger concert hall organs, embodying a blend of 124 voices and cutting-edge technology, are set to be fully operational by January 1, 2024.
These extraordinary organs boast 124 exceptional voices and incorporate state-of-the-art technology. In a departure from tradition, some of the air channels within the organs have been brought to the forefront as visual elements. The curved elements of the facade consist of resonating pipes and air channels, with a total of approximately 260 meters of wooden composite pipes and channels, highlighting the grandeur of this musical instrument. In terms of size, these organs rank among the world's largest modern concert hall organs. What sets them apart is the inclusion of two playing consoles, one mechanically linked to the organ and the other freely movable on the orchestra stage.
The finishing, tuning, and testing of the organs will continue throughout the coming autumn. The grand inauguration of the organs is scheduled for January 1, 2024, with a performance by the acclaimed French organist, Olivier Latry. In 2024, Musiikkitalo will host nearly 30 concerts and events featuring these magnificent organs. The coordination of organ activities in Musiikkitalo Concert Hall is overseen by the Musiikkitalon Urut Soimaan ry association, and the schedule of concerts and events can be found on their website, www.urutsoimaan.fi.
The idea of installing organs in the Musiikkitalo Concert Hall dates back to its construction phase in 2011, driven by the desire of the symphony orchestras based at the hall to have organs as part of their repertoire. However, due to resource constraints, the organs were not initially built. The dream became a reality in 2017 when composer Kaija Saariaho generously donated one million euros to the Musiikkitalo Foundation for the construction of the organs. This donation was followed by project funding from various stakeholders, including the City of Helsinki, YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company), the Ministry of Education and Culture, and 1.7 million euros in donations from seven different foundations and funds. The total funding for the project amounts to 4.4 million euros.
Upon unveiling the project, the Musiikkitalo Foundation initiated a campaign for naming organ pipes, which has raised over 200,000 euros for organ music, producing organ programs, and events. The campaign is still ongoing. An exclusive preview performance of the concert hall organs will take place on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at 11 AM for all supporters who have purchased named organ pipes.