The Musiikkitalo Concert Hall will have the world’s largest concert hall organ

The Musiikkitalo concert hall organ will be built by Austrian organ builders Rieger Orgelbau. The instrument will have 123 registers, which will make it the world’s largest concert hall organ. The new instrument will be completed in autum 2022 and inaugurated on 1 January 2023.

The Musiikkitalo organ will be a versatile instrument suitable for myriad genres. It will be an instrument of the future not confined to a specific genre, style, or period. Professor Olli Porthan, who is in charge of the planning stage.

Contemporary composers will be intrigued by its registration aids and technical innovations, which include microtonal pipes, regulatable pneumatics, and numerous overtone stops. The instrument will have two consoles: one on the stage and another within the organ case. This way, the organist can sit next to the conductor and be seen by the audience. According to Professor Porthan The organ will mainly play as part of the orchestra in works that require it, and also as a solo instrument. The instrument’s versatile disposition will make it the instrument for an extensive range of solo literature from the entire history of organ music.

With its organic, organlike casing, the instrument will be a distinguishing element of Musiikkitalo’s architecture. The instrument will be built into an organ case that enables unique dynamic dimensions; static will become dynamic when the moving elements of the casing open, and the audience will be able to see the various pipe levels with their light effects. The wind system in front of the casing will also be an important and inspiring visual element. Usually out of sight but now displayed, it will make the organ a living, adaptable instrument.

The Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Contest Celebrates the New Musiikkitalo Concert Hall Organ

The launch of the new instrument will be celebrated with a series of organ concerts throughout 2023. The Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Contest will supply the series’ repertoire. The open contest includes three series – orchestral concertos, chamber music works, and works for solo organ – in which approximately ten best entries in total will be selected for concert performances.

The winning compositions will be performed in individual concerts during 2023 by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and many other Finnish orchestras and international organ virtuosos. Kaija Saariaho will lead the contest jury, which will include the following members: chief conductors Nicholas Collon and Susanna Mälkki; composers Francesco Filidei, Maija Hynninen, and Olli Kortekangas; and organists Jan Lehtola, Susanne Kujala, and Olli Porthan. Doctor Jan Lehtola said,

This is a remarkable contest in many ways. It will inaugurate one of the world’s most outstanding instruments in the heart of Helsinki and lift it directly to the heart of the international art and music scene. Bringing together a multi-talented and resourceful group of Finnish musicians, the instrument will be of service to the whole country. Through the international contest, the instrument will be positioned in the centre of new music, and it will invite all contemporary composers from all over the world to make music.

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