The newest instrument from Rieger is the new organ (15/II) for the Diocesan Conservatory for Church Music in Vienna. The Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, did not miss the opportunity to personally dedicate the new instrument on January 27.
In the circle of the already existing, rather baroque instruments of the Diocesan Conservatory, the new organ differs in that it is more suitable for romantic and symphonic music in the context of lessons, for practice purposes and at class evenings. Of course, as befits a diocesan conservatory, it is also ideally suited for improvisation and testing liturgical organ playing.
The organ is also visually special, with its wooden pipe prospect and the colorfully accentuated decorative center shade.
After decades of preparatory work, the project became reality in August 2022: the new main organ for the thousand-year-old Mainz Cathedral of St. Martin, the cathedral church of the diocese of Mainz, was inaugurated. With its 95 stops on 4 manuals and pedal, this organ is certainly one of the highlights of the company’s history. Despite architectural constraints, the organ nevertheless establishes enormous presence in the entire building. The richness of tonal colours and the variety of sounds are overwhelming; consider, for example, the cluster of seven string-toned stops – violas, viols and violins – in the orchestral division.
The Bishop of Mainz, Dr. Peter Kohlgraf, personally visited the organ building workshop in Schwarzach during the construction of the organ to hear the first sounds. His enthusiasm was reflected in the fact that he played a piece for four hands together with cathedral organist, Prof. Daniel Beckmann, at the opening concert.
Rieger would not be Rieger if such an important organ was not equipped with another organ-building innovation – this time a novelty from the in-house electronics development department: the organist can determine from the console, via the “audience position” function, at which point in the cathedral the large main organ and the smaller ‘market portal’ organ (Goll, 2021) can be heard exactly together, without any delay, despite a long spatial distance.
Krakow (PL) St Mary’s Basilica, Main Organ
St Mary’s Church is a Gothic brick church built in the 14th century in Krakow’s Old Town. The church has a rich collection of historical works of art, including the famous main altarpiece created by Veit Stoss between 1477 and 1489.
Rieger restored and rebuilt the choir organ in 2018 (14 / II / P) and has recently installed a new main organ with 62 stops (IV / P). The choir organ has its own console, but can also be played from the console of the main organ. The historic main organ case has been re-used, after pedal towers were added and after it was restored separately by specialists in art restoration in Poland. The organ was consecrated in a festive service in May 2022.
Krakow (PL) St Mary’s Basilica, Choir organ
In May 2022 Rieger Orgelbau completed the large main organ (62/IV) in St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, after the existing organ case had been enlarged and rebuilt.
In the same period, Rieger also rebuilt the choir organ (14/II) within the existing historic case, which now supports the musical events in liturgy and concert in front of the world-famous Veit Stoss altar.
Geilo (N) Cultural Church
Geilo is one of Norway’s most popular centres for outdoor activities. On the outskirts of the picturesquely situated small town, not far from the national park, lies the Culture Church, built of wood, glass and concrete, like a sculpture; a church that requires a particularly diverse and musically colourful instrument, with an ingenious specification, sensitively voiced and with an individual artistic design.
Zhengzhou Grand Theatre is located in the Zhengzhou Cultural District and is considered the best performing arts palace in the Central Plains; it will highlight the art of movement and bring to the fore the pivotal status of Zhengzhou in Chinese culture with an architectural image unique to the Central Plains.
Our project was delayed by the emergence of the Covid 19 pandemic. Assembly started in early 2020, but when the lock-down in China was announced, we withdrew our staff from Zhengzhou – the building site was dormant for over a year. Happily, we were able to complete this fantastic project in December 2021 with a festive concert. In the meantime, the instrument (70/IV) is one of the most important concert hall organs in China.
Nantong (CHN) Grand Theatre
The city of Nantong is located in Jiangsu Province on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, opposite Shanghai on the southern bank of the river. Rieger Orgelbau was commissioned to build a new organ with 66 stops (IV/P) for the 1,200-seat concert hall located within the new cultural district. The inauguration took place in December 2021.
The façade design of the organ consists of three undulating lines that overlap and therefore imitate three peaks and valleys. At the same time, this design is imbued with movement, which gives the instrument a graceful charm.
One sees: Rieger gets organs moving. And people too.
The management of the Bregenz Festival commissioned the composer Alexander Moosbrugger to write an opera entitled “Wind”, which was performed at the Werkstattbühne in August 2021. The story of the opera is based on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which was printed in Venice in 1499 with numerous woodcut illustrations in the style of the early Renaissance. It is believed that the writer is Francesco Colonna. The story is an allegory in which Poliphilo pursues his beloved Polia through a dreamlike landscape.
The composer designed an organ with 179 pipes to produce the widest possible range of tones and partials. The pipes were arranged in groups around the theatre, giving visitors the feeling of “sitting in the instrument”.
The construction of this unique theatre organ is an example of Rieger’s flexibility and willingness to experiment with tonal developments.