Hard times, that's for sure, also for organ enthusiasts ... Fortunately, there is Mechanical Music Radio, providing you with music of a variety of mechanical music instruments 24 hours a day, for free!

Completely unexpectedly, our member Henri Krijnen passed away on 5 August 2018. In 2014, our society got the chance to visit his collection and we learned to know him as a very hospitable man.

The committee extends its sincere condolences to the family.

Text: Uwe Gernert - Photos: Helga Behr, Uwe Gernert

39. International Drehorgelfest BerlinFrom Friday, 6th Juli to Sunday, 8th July the 39. International Drehorgelfest Berlin took place in the capital of Germany. For me this is the paramount event for organ grinders in Germany and undoubtedly there are a lot more people thinking the same way - this year Christa Hohnhäuser as the head of the organization committee was proud to welcome some 170 organs again and nearly 200 participants from 12 different nations.

The festival started at Friday from 12:00 p.m. with the organ grinders already present at that time to be presented live on the stage and giving the public a first impression of what they could expect during the next few days. Most of the international friends already were at Berlin at that time so we listened to a potpourri of outstanding performances even on the first day with grinders (and 'grinderesses') from Estonia, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany. The evening on Breitscheidplatz saw lots of people dancing to live music.

Text: Uwe Gernert – photos: Helga Behr and Bruno Leoni

Let me tell you again about the fair we´ve been invited to for several years now: just in contrast with last year's really bad weather conditions this year's 24th participation of organ grinders on the fair showed up with a grey but dry morning and temperatures around 20°C. The weather cleared up throughout the day and the fair had lots of visitors.
Bruno Leoni invited some 20 players to show and play their instruments to the public. After a warm welcome by Renate Ulrich (one of the organisators of the fair) and Bruno, we split up in groups of 2 or 3 grinders and circulated the whole area.
The public interest in organs is still high in Switzerland and we had a lot of good conversations with interested folks about our organs, how they function and how to become a grinder. The grinders started playing at 10:00 h in the morning and ended up at 16:00 h. Afterwards we had our usual meeting at the beertent "Dorfplatz-Beizli" and were invited by that place's landlady Esther for a meal and some drinks.
If you´re around in Switzerland at the time of LUGA, just drop by and listen to all the different types of organs Bruno invites because of their differences, every time a well chosen mixture. Besides that you´re able to experience typical Swiss stuff like "Säulirennen" (a pigs' running contest) or St. Bernhards dogs and their puppies.

Watch a selection of photos.

LUGA Luezen (CH) 2018

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Text and photos: Uwe Gernert

einsiedeln2017For the 13th international organ festival at Einsiedeln we travelled to Switzerland on 12th August 2017.

Our friend Peter X. Bürgisser (www.drehorgel-schweiz.ch) had again invited some 30 organ grinders way before the festival. After the morning coffee at hotel "Drei Könige" Peter asked the grinders to get together into groups and decide where to play. Under blue skies the groups of grinders afterwards spread out to places all over the town and under best weather conditions grinding started on 10:00 h.

The traditional service in the monastery´s church "Maria Assumption" at 11:00 h was accompanied by three organs and their players, namely Peter Bürgisser, Cyril Schulthess with their Raffin-instruments and Martin Zumbach with his self-built barrel-organ "Violinopan", an instrument of high class and precision-built in the traditonal way. Martin for sure is one of the last persons in Europe to make barrels for organs.

After the service, which was attended by a lot of the grinders but also pilgrims from all over the world, we continued to play on the streets again. We may talk about a tradition when telling You that the lunch break was sponsored again by hotel "Drei Könige". After the lunch break the grinders spread out again throughout the city. The public interest was quite high this year and we had a lot of nice talks with interested people about the function and technique of the organs

Since this year there was a so-called "Völkerfest" at Paracelsus-Park (a meeting of different cultures from Africa, South Europe up to Britain), the presentation of all organs and their grinders was integrated in the fest.

Every organ grinder and the instrument he was playing was introduced by Peter Bürgisser and there were a lot of people around to listen. The synchronous play of the two Bacigalupo organs I mentioned the year before took place again, this time with 3 musical pieces on new barrels arranged and pinned by Martin Zumbach - an amazing listening experience again.

After the demonstration of the organs the grinders had their usual get-together at the nearby hotel before leaving for their hometowns.

Next year's festival will take place on 19th August 2018 - You´re invited to have a look at a wonderful town with a world-known monastery and a lot of organs again.

Check out Uwe's photos here or by clicking on the photo above.

Text: Uwe Gernert – photos: Bruno Leoni, Peter Bützer, Uwe Gernert

laufenburg2017As I told you on the last year´s occasion of hela, Bruno Leoni, responsible for the organ players at that traditional fair and trade fair in Switzerland, invites all players personally. This year there were 32 organs present. After the bad weather on the last occasion this October did it´s best to give the grinders a warm welcome - sunshine after the morning fog was guarenteed and this gave all of us a lot of audience. After breakfast in Restaurant Castillo, which is offered for free by all of the Sponsors and Silvia Blaser, secretary of the festival´s committee and owner of "Hotel Bahnhof" and the speech of Raffael Blaser, president of the OC the grinders were sent out to their locations all over the fair. From 10:15 h we had a happy grinding with lots of spectators and some good conversations with a bunch of organ-interested people in the audience. This year´s service at the church was accompanied by Esther Studer and Christian Schuhmacher who are part of the best Swiss grinders playing synchronously on mechanical organs - sad they had no chance to join us for our breakfast while they were "on duty" at the holy mass and we had no chance to listen to them there!

At 15:30 h the players gathered at the market place in the old town for a concert of all makes of the organs. The lined-up organs and their players were introduced by Bruno and the Vice President of the hela festival´s committee, Mr. Roland Kaufmann gave a warm goodbye to the participants followed by dealing the "wage" for them, a big pretzel from the local bakery Maier and a big "Thank You" to Laufenburg Tourist Information and all other sponsors of the festival. Bruno presented a selection of the organs of the different kinds – there were at a total 30 different instruments from 16 organmakers present, with some of them self built - and asked the listeners to give a good ear to the difference of sound of the various makes which reached from a small American-made roller organ over a 45-key barrel-organ built by Bacigalupo at Berlin in 1912 up to newer organs of Raffin (Ueberlingen) make. After storaging the organs in their cars and a big good-bye to those leaving at that time the rest of the grinders met again at a restaurant to share their experiences.

Next year hela will celebrate its 70th anniversary and the organs will participate for their 30th time. We´re ready to go for it, Bruno!

Watch the photos of hela here!

Text and photos: Uwe Gernert - thanks, Uwe!

Swiss festival at its 20th anniversary - Internationales Drehorgelfestival Thun - 15th/16th July 2017

thun2017 1The 20th International Organ Festival at Thun, Switzerland, took place during the weekend of 15 and 16 July 2017. The motto of the festival was "Wir jubilieren" and for the members of the association this jubilee started with the inscription to the festival on Friday. As usual the organs could be stored in the townhall´s basement "on owners' own risk". Friday at 16:00 h the annual gathering decided to leave everything as it was, concerning the board (organisation committee, "OK") and its functions. Afterwards all members were invited to a boat trip on the lake of Thun after that AGM. One of the rare Swiss Shanty Music Choirs (https://www.shanty-chor.ch/) had a show on the boat while we were travelling on the lake of Thun for a 3-hour-trip. Since weather conditions were more than invitating we had a great trip with an excellent dinner, a very fine and a humorous speech from a member of the town council, Mr. Peter Siegenthaler, who is responsible for town safety and social matters and this made a good beginning for all the members. The dinner was offered to all members by the festival sponsors.

Saturday morning saw all of the participants with happy faces since the weather was fine and no rain was to be expected. As usual the participants were asked to split up into groups and organize themselves at the places the groups decided to go to for grinding.

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