Heads roll in Helsinki's new hall

Heads roll in Helsinki's new hall


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2011

The world’s newest concert showcase has run into trouble.

Opened at the end of August, Helsinki’s Musikktaalo was everything the Finns have dreamed of since independence – a space where Sibelius can finally breathe. But word reaches me that both chief executives, Kenneth Katter and Helena Hiilvirta have resigned or been fired.

Insiders tell me that the problem arose from a spiralling graph of running costs. The house is apparently understaffed on the maintenance side and the operators are refusing to release more funds to support its smooth running.

Katter, a technocrat, was brought in to assist the visionary Hiilvirta (above) who, as intendant of the Finnish radio orchestra, had been driving the project from its inception. It was Helena who attracted the Vienna Philharmonic and other blue-chip orchestras to visit Finland for the first time on the promise of a marvellous acoustic. I hope they don’t arrive to find the doors locked for want off staff.