Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna has made it her mission to bring the splendour of the organ out of its church setting and into major concert halls. As titular organist of the Elbphilharmonie she gives the instrument a face, supervised the initial tuning and sits at the organ console herself for many concerts, be it solo recitals or orchestral concerts. Thus she appeared at the inaugural concerts in January 2017, gave the first solo recital on the organ in the Grand Hall shortly after that, and also recorded the first CD of the Elbphilharmonie organ entitled »Light & Dark«.
»I feel very much at home in this great round hall, where people look at the performers from all directions – it's like being in a huge living room.«
The Music :Aivars Kalējs: Lux aeterna
Iveta Apkalna is a keen supporter of contemporary music. The Baltic states have been the source of some remarkable organ music in past decades, as the Latvian cultural ambassdor shows with a work by her countryman Aivars Kalējs. The Riga Cathedral organist wrote his piece »Lux aeterna« in 2005 in memory of Olivier Messiaen, one of the most important 20th century composers. Rising and falling melodic arcs and radiant chords recall the iridescent music of Messiaen, who saw notes as colours and vice versa.
It's the pulsating heart of the Elbphilharmonie: the Grand Hall. Its 2,100 seats are arranged according to the vineyard principle: the stage lies at the centre of the hall and is surrounded by rows of seating that ascend like the terraces of a vineyard. Over the stage hangs a large sound reflector.
Videos: The Elbphilharmonie Organ
How does the Elbphilharmonie organ work? Why so many registers? How is the sound produced?
About the series
Artists record exclusive music videos at the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle for Elbphilharmonie Sessions – sometimes in unusual locations offstage. Discover the concert halls from the inside. Discover what they sound like.
Text: Laura Etspüler, last updated 10 April 2020