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Pipe Organ at Maison Symphonique
Music Hall, Canada – design by Diamond Schmitt Architects
29 May 2014
Pipe Organ at Maison Symphonique in Toronto
Design: Diamond Schmitt Architects
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra tonight inaugurates the Pipe Organ at Maison Symphonique. The 6,489-pipe colossus is a design collaboration between Jack Diamond, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects and Quebec-based organ manufacturer Casavant Frères.
This is the architect’s first organ commission. His role was to create the organ façade – the configuration of pipes above the stage that frames the audience’s view of the auditorium. “This is an exuberant organ, built into the room as part of the architecture, not just an insert,” said Diamond. “Too many organs simply look like radiators.”
The 1900-seat concert hall expresses a reverence for sound where overlapping curves of the auditorium’s wood-lined walls shape the musical dimension of the hall. The asymmetrical array of organ pipes is a bold, confident composition that – like the concert hall itself – is a contemporary expression of the fundamental forms of concert hall design.
“This organ is consistent with the contemporary design of the hall; it’s where architecture and making music come together,” said Diamond, whose previous concert hall designs include the New Mariinsky Theatre (2013) in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (2006) in Toronto.
Casavant Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec has been handcrafting organs since 1879. The instrument for Maison Symphonique is one of its largest to date. It consists of four mechanical action keyboards, 109 registers, 83 stops, 116 ranks and 6,489 pipes. An organ console is fixed to the base of the instrument and a second, moveable console can be placed at the centre of the orchestra that allows an organist to activate the instrument’s keys. The Grand Orgue Pierre Béique is named after the founder and first general manager of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
MSO Music Director Kent Nagano said of the instrument, “it’s so brilliant, it has so much strength, so much power, so much resonance, so many timbre possibilities.” Organist Emeritus for the MSO Olivier Latry, who will perform the inaugural concert with the MSO, likened the instrument to sitting in a high-performance car.
Maison Symphonique opened in September 2011 and was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Aedifica Architects. The traditional ‘shoe box’ theatre configuration is reinterpreted in an architectural language to inject life, visual interest, warmth and sensuality with supreme acoustics, clear sightlines and audience comfort. The hall is a soundproof ‘box-within-a-box’ that is separated from the surrounding public lobbies and rehearsal rooms and rests on rubber and steel pads that inhibit unwanted vibration and noise from entering the room. A monochromatic palette of colours creates a calm, cohesive and elegant environment in the hall to draw the audience’s attention to natural, unamplified performances.
The first public concert featuring the Grand Orgue Pierre Béique will be live streamed at medici.tv on Thursday, May 29th at 8PM EST. The concert will be available free of charge on the site for three months.
Pipe Organ at Maison Symphonique, Toronto images / information from Diamond Schmitt Architects
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