Helsinki Music Centre celebrates a new organ

Helsinki Music Centre celebrates a new organ
© Priska Ketterer

Throughout January Musiikkitalo Helsinki present a series of concerts and recitals which mark the inauguration of the new Rieger Organ in its concert hall. Renowned concert organist Olivier Latry, who has been involved in the design and installation of the new organ gave the first of many recitals which showcase the instrument over the first weeks of 2024. He performed music by French composers from different eras alongside J.S. Bach culminating in Widor’s fifth symphony, ending with the famous Toccata. Latry opened the concert with Offrande by Kaija Saariaho, who died in the summer of 2023 and who launched the fundraising campaign for the new organ with a significant donation.

You can experience this very special performance of Saariaho’s Offrande here:

On January 10 Jan Lehtola performed Saariaho’s Maan Varjot (Earth’s Shadows) with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jukka Pekka Saraste.

Coming up, on January 12 Olivier Latry gives the Finnish premiere of Sinfonia Concertante for organ and orchestra by Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra who commissioned the work along with National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio Katowice, Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, Orchestre de Paris, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Elbphilharmonie Hamburgwhich. It was premiered in Poland almost year ago to the day in January 2023 for the inauguration of the new organ at NOSPR.

Register by Nico Muhly was written for his friend and collaborator acclaimed British organist James McVinnie who performs the concerto conducted by Pekka Kuusisto with Helsinki Philharmonic on February 8. Commissioned by Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Southbank Centre and The Philadelphia Orchestra Muhly writes of Register:

The piece is built around three distinct cycles of chords: one, large and ascending, with a sense of slight menace; the second, bright, descending, and brilliant; and the third, a sparkling perpetual-motion machine, in whose genetic past is a Pavane in G minor by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625), a composer with whose music Jamie and I both enjoy a lifelong romance. Despite the power of the modern organ, the piece ends with a glance towards the Jacobean period, with strings played without vibrato, and the organ in its smallest, most understated register”

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