A sculptural façade emerges on the global organ scene – This is what the new Rieger organ of the Helsinki Music Centre’s Concert Hall will look like

The façade of the Helsinki Music Centre’s organ, which has been under construction since 2019, is now finished. The unique façade built in the Helsinki Music Centre’s Concert Hall during the past summer is in itself a visual work of art not unlike for example the façade of Disney Concert Hall’s organ in Los Angeles. The façade was designed by the organ building company Rieger Orgelbau’s organ designer Harald Schwarz and organ builder, managing director Wendelin Eberle. The handcrafted Rieger concert organ will be completed during the autumn of 2023 and inaugurated 1 January 2024.

The Helsinki Music Centre’s organ will be an exceptional instrument consisting of 124 registers and state of the art technology. As a visual element, some of the wind lines that traditionally run inside the organ have been made visible for everyone. The curved elements of the façade consist of both, sounding pipes and wind lines. When it comes to the scale of the instrument, it is quite telling that the organ has altogether some 260 metres of lines and pipes 3D printed out of wood-plastic composite. The organ will be one of the world’s largest modern organs in a concert hall. Another specialty of the organ is its two consoles, of which one is mechanically connected to the organ and the other can be freely moved on the stage.

Some finishing works as well as voicing and testing of the organ will take place during this autumn. The opening ceremony of the organ will take place 1 January 2014, when the French organist, Olivier Latry, will perform the inauguration concert. In 2024, the Helsinki Music Centre will have almost 30 concerts and other events including the new organ. Activities related to the organ of the Helsinki Music Centre’s Concert Hall are coordinated by Musiikkitalon Urut Soimaan ry (Helsinki Music Centre’s Play the Organ Association), and all events are listed on the Helsinki Music Centre’s website.

A place was reserved for the organ already in the construction stage of the Concert Hall in the Helsinki Music Centre, opened in 2011. The initiative request for the organ was made by the Music Centre’s symphony orchestras because in many pieces the organ is included as an orchestral instrument. Due to the lack of resources, however, the organ was left unbuilt. The construction of the organ became possible in 2017, when the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation received a donation of one million euros for the organ from composer Kaija Saariaho. Following Saariaho’s donation, the project was funded by the owners: The city of Helsinki, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Additional 1.7 million euros were received as donations from seven different foundations. The project’s total funding is 4.4 million euros.

When the organ project was announced, the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation launched a naming campaign for the organ pipes, through which more than 200,000 euros have already been raised for organ music and the production of organ repertoires and events. The campaign is still running. A preview event of the Concert Hall’s organ will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023 at 11 a.m. for all supporters who have purchased an organ pipe to have it named after themselves.

For more information on the organ project and the Play the Organ campaign, please visit www.urutsoimaan.fi/en/playtheorgan/

Interview requests

Helsinki Music Centre Foundation
Kaisa Näreranta
Project Manager
+358 50 584 4876

Photos by Sakari Röyskö