PRESS RELEASE: Composer Kaija Saariaho donates one million euros for the new Helsinki Music Centre organ

On 3 September 2017, the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation received a one-million- euro donation from composer Kaija Saariaho for a new organ to be built.

On 3 September 2017, the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation received a one-million- euro donation from composer Kaija Saariaho for a new organ to be built in the Music Centre Concert Hall. A concert organ for the Concert Hall was included in the original plans for the Helsinki Music Centre, but, for budgetary reasons, it was not acquired for the centre’s opening.


“I didn’t need to think long about my decision to launch this project when the opportunity arose. We obviously have more than enough of urgent issues in need of funding, but for me as a professional musician and composer, this is a genuine opportunity to make a far-reaching impact on Finland’s music life—an organ will outlive us all. The new Helsinki Music Centre organ will guarantee continuity for the music tradition represented by orchestral organ music: it will allow the composers of both today and the coming generations to be inspired by the instrument. But, above all, the instrument will provide the Finnish audiences with an opportunity to experience orchestral organ works in their authentic and powerful form,” Saariaho said about her donation.

Other sponsors of the project

Inspired by Kaija Saariaho’s donation to the organ project, the following sponsors have decided to contribute: Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation (€500,000), Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland Fredrik Pacius Memorial Fund (€500,000), Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation (€300,000), Finnish Cultural Foundation (€300,000), Svenska Kulturfonden (€100,000), and Pro Musica fund (€26,000 for project PR and the website).


In addition to the three Helsinki Music Centre residents—Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Symphonic Orchestra, and the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy—the City of Helsinki, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE will each donate €500,000 to the initiative.


On 11 December, the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation will also launch an open donation collection to support organ recitals in the centre and organ music commissions from Finnish composers.

The biggest organ in Finland

The new instrument will have as many as 90-100 registers, thanks to the ample space available. The current plan is to build the biggest organ ever in Finland. The total cost for the organ is estimated at 4.2 million euros, including building and installation costs.


The organ will first play in the autumn of 2021, the year of Helsinki Music Centre’s tenth anniversary. The organ planning team is led by Professor Olli Porthan, Doctor of Music and organist. Other members of the team include the following organists: Professor Emeritus Kari Jussila; Lecturer Jan Lehtola, Doctor of Music; Petúr Sakari, undergraduate student of music; Lecturer Pekka Suikkanen, Master of Music; Lecturer Ville Urponen, Doctor of Music; and Olivier Latry from the Paris Conservatoire.


The planning team will consult the Helsinki Music Centre architects (LPR Architects) and the Helsinki Music Centre acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota (Nagata Acoustics).


The Helsinki Music Centre Organ Project’s steering group is chaired by Juha Lemström, chairman of the Kiinteistöosakeyhtiö Helsingin Mannerheimintien 13 A board.


For additional information, please contact the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation’s vice-chair Aarne Wessberg, tel. +358 400 618 800



See also

The safety arrangements in Musiikkitalo
Safety instructions for the autumn 2020
Santtu-Matias Rouvali brings the London Philharmonia Orchest...
Principal conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali will conduct the London Philharmonia Orchestra’s concerts in Helsinki and Tampere next year.
Helsingin Musiikkitalon säätiön avustushaku 2019 on alkanut...
Helsingin Musiikkitalon säätiön avustukset on tarkoitettu musiikkikulttuurin edistämiseen erityisesti Musiikkitalossa. Hakuaika on 1.3. - 31.3.2019.
The Musiikkitalo Concert Hall will have the world’s largest...
The Musiikkitalo concert hall organ project is now underway.