BY Juha Torvinen
A perennial anomaly in Finnish music has finally been put right: the national capital now has a concert hall that is up to international standards. And even more than that, the new Music Centre also contains several smaller halls for various purposes and different kinds of music, besides providing up-to-date facilities for the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sibelius Academy. So it is not just a concert hall; it is, true to its name, a centre for music.
This issue of Finnish Music Quarterly is dedicated to this new venue, featuring a rundown of facts and figures, illustrating the extensive history that led to its construction and interviewing the principal acoustic designer as well as musicians, the actual future users of the building. Although the new Music Centre is the headline feature, we are also taking a broader look at the complex relationship between music and space.
Of the many functions incorporated in the Music Centre, the most eagerly awaited by far is the main Concert Hall. Put simply, Helsinki has not had a decent concert hall of any description until now. In fact, the Music Centre is like an inverted version of Finlandia Hall, the previous principal venue in Helsinki for classical concerts: whereas Finlandia Hall is impressive and unique in its architecture but has a concert hall with substandard acoustics, the Music Centre is architecturally subtle and unassuming but boasts a concert hall in whose acoustical design nothing was left to chance.
Expectations are high, and naturally only the first season will tell whether the hall actually works, acoustically or otherwise. However, I will be so bold as to assert that we shall not be disappointed. Finnish orchestras are already at the top of their league internationally, but now, with a good acoustic, we will be able to hear them at their best on their home ground. Besides, a good hall is essential for orchestral development. A violinist plays on a violin, but the instrument of an orchestra is the hall it plays in. And you cannot get a great sound out of a shoddy box no matter how good you are.
With this issue, I will be leaving the post of editor-in-chief of the FMQ to move on to new challenges. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers for the past years. I am happy to note that this publication is doing well and is sure to prosper under my successor too.