Music for the masses

Finlandia Talo

Finlandia Talo. Picture: Rauno Traskeli

From the Opera House, if you continue down the main thoroughfare Mannerheimintie in the direction of the city centre, you will come across Finlandia Hall.

This large white marble-clad edifice is a concert (1,700 seats in the main auditorium) and congress hall, with the concert wing designed in 1971 by Alvar Aalto.

Aalto was indisputably a great architect, but he paid scant heed to his acoustic experts.

As a consequence the large auditorium has a rather dry sound, and is not overly popular with local orchestras.

Alvar Aalto was also responsible for the red-brick Kulttuuritalo (Cultural Hall) built originally for the Finnish Communist Party in 1958.

Here the acoustics are a good deal more satisfactory, though the building is slightly smaller, with seating for just under 1,400.

In any event, both these venues now have a serious rival with the new Music Centre situated on the prime site facing the Parliament Building.

The Music Centre has excellent acoustic solutions designed by a top Japanese designer.

The Music Centre houses both of the city’s big resident symphony orchestras – the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Finnish Radio Symphony – and the country’s music university, the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts.

One of the highlights of the music year 2017 is a concert by the joint symphony orchestra formed by the students of the Sibelius Academy and the world-famous Juilliard School of music in New York.

The concert is part of the Finland 100 celebrations.

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