The Musiikkitalo concert hall organ project is now underway in Helsinki, Finland. In accordance with the results of international competitive bidding and the contract signed in June 2018, the 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 largest organ in Finland so far – the Lapua Cathedral organ – has 85 registers.
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, says the project is unique even on an international scale: “The spirits have been extremely high throughout the whole organisation, and I have been really impressed by the planning team’s inspired and focused once-in-a-lifetime approach to the project. The team has designed the organ to bring the sound close to the audience, also when it is at its softest, and to make the hall reverberate with a powerful and magnificent sound, when it is at its loudest.”
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.