The opening of Helsinki Music Centre on August 31, 2011 will be an historic event in Finland, a nation largely defined by strengths in classical music. The new concert hall in the nation's capital is slated to alter the music landscape of the city and the country, and it is poised to raise the status of Helsinki as a classical music capital. The concert hall will focus and expand the classical music offering in the city, and it will enable increasingly high artistic standards.

The concert hall has already increased interest in classical music in Helsinki, and ticket sales are record high. "Helsinki Music Centre will play an important role in recruiting wider and new audiences," says the center's director Helena Hiilivirta.

Helsinki Music Centre will be home to Finland's leading symphony orchestras, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. It will house Sibelius Academy, Finland's only and Europe's largest music university. The center will be hosting a wide range of other ensembles in its main orchestra hall and five smaller halls. The smaller halls are custom-designed for opera, acoustic music, organ recitals, amplified music, and musical theatre.

Helsinki Music Centre will be a "citizens' meeting place" by the nature of its day-to-day operation and architecture: the building is open throughout the day, and it offers a passage from the main street of Helsinki to the adjacent Finlandia Park. The vineyard-style main orchestra hall and the foyers are separated by a glass wall, offering the public a view to the hall.

With two-thirds of it below ground, the building exists in harmony in its demanding city-center location. "Helsinki Music Centre is the last, unifying piece of the puzzle in this architecturally busy site," says architect-in-charge Marko Kivistö of LPR Architects. Acoustic design is by Nagata Acoustics of Japan, which is led by Yasuhisa Toyota.

For the past 40 years, Helsinki's main concert hall has been Finlandia Hall, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. When Helsinki Music Centre opens, Finlandia Hall will give up its role as a classical music venue and focus on conferences and events.

Read more about Helsinki Music Centre, its architecture and its users in the bulletin Helsinki News.