Autumn Updates and Progress Report on a New Composition for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Concert Hall Organ at the Helsinki Music Centre

Olli Virtaperko’s new orchestral composition is set for its premiere in Autumn 2024 at the Helsinki Music Centre, performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and organist Susanne Kujala. While the composer has been hard at work in his studio on the orchestral piece, his music journeys far and wide.

In January 2024, the Helsinki Music Centre Concert Hall will unveil its new organ, the result of five intense years of construction by the renowned organ builders, Rieger Orgelbau. This 124-register instrument will rank among the world’s largest concert hall organs. Olli Virtaperko is one of the privileged composers who will create music for this instrument during its inaugural year. Commissioned by The Helsinki Philharmonic orchestra, his new orchestral work will have the organ in a major role: “This composition project is not about using the organ as a solo instrument, but rather to explore the possibilities of treating the concert hall organ as an integrated part of the orchestra. However, due to its size and sonic and dynamic versatility, it is obvious that the organ will become an essential component of the piece. Some of the most interesting features of the new instrument are the rich arsenal of overtone registers, the quarter-tone & 31-tone microinterval registers, and the unique Rieger Flexible Wind System, which enables sophisticated adjusting of air pressure to move a large mass of sound upwards or downwards. Composing for the Rieger organ and the symphony orchestra is like venturing into unknown territory, literally. There is so much to learn. It’s great!”

While Virtaperko intensely crafts the fusion of the symphony orchestra and the concert hall organ in his studio, his music journeys far and wide. In September and October, the Sturm und Drang ensemble, conducted by Thomas van Haeperen, will perform Virtaperko’s Serenade in Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany. Additionally, the baritone saxophone concerto, Multikolor, will be brought to life by the talented Swiss saxophonist, Simon Fluri, who has already presented this concerto twice in Switzerland this year. His third rendition of ‘Multikolor’ is scheduled for December 9th at the XIX World Saxophone Congress in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.


Saxophonist Simon Fluri.


In Virtaperko’s home country of Finland, the beloved poetry concert ‘Näin unta kesästä kerran’ (Once I Dreamt of Summer), featuring Seela Sella, the esteemed grand dame of Finnish theater, is set for its 25th performance on October 4th at Porvoon Taidetehdas in Porvoo, Finland. Centered around the poetry of the Finnish National Romantic poet Eino Leino and music composed by Virtaperko and Heikki Sarmanto, the project brings together Seela Sella as a reciter and three musicians, including Virtaperko’s longtime collaborator, Louna Hosia, who delves into the composer’s cello works.

“Näin unta kesästä kerran” (Once a dream of summer I saw) – a poem concert. Pia Freund, soprano; Louna Hosia, cello & bass viol;  Seela Sella, reciter and Taina-Maaria Rautasuo, piano. (Photo: Mari Waegelein)