Text and photos: Uwe Gernert
The 36. international Festival of the Barrel organ at Berlin is history! Beginning on Friday 01. July 2016 with the inscription and the official opening by the mayor of Berlin-Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf at 18:00 h on Breitscheidplatz in the centre of Berlin at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It again was an extraordinary event. After the opening ceremony the fest started - without organs but a dance band playing songs of the fifties and sixties for the public. The "event of the event" part one is always the grand parade on Saturday morning when the Kurfürstendamm is reserved for all kinds of barrel organs. The defilé is held from 11:00 h to 12:00 h on 1 km of the "Ku´damm" with more than 120 organs. The defilé was headed traditionally by a horse-coach where the district-mayor of Berlin-Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf Reinhard Naumann and Margot Wolf (Willy Jacops gave her the title of the eldest organ player of the world as you could read on MM´s website some time ago) in her 101st (!!!) year. She is still grinding her organ and is still going strong.
All organ grinders got a lot of public this year and fortunately during the hour of the defilé it was not raining. The rest of the Saturday the organs played on and around Breitscheidplatz for the public but weather conditions could have been better. "Jubel-Jette" Christa Hohnhäuser as the organizer of the festival introduced organ players from all over the world on stage the whole Saturday and Sunday and explained the different organs. Christa this year welcomed about 150 organ grinders from 13 countries. Amongst those was Shibaraku Asakusa from Tokyo and two grinders from Chile with "chinchinera" Olga Carrasco who did an amazing job on her drums to the sound of Manuel Ivan Melo´s barrel organ. Manuel still manufactures barrel organs in the style of Frati from Berlin in Santiago. All other players had more than enough listeners until late in the evening. On the evening the whole grinders-family - at the Berlin fest You may take the word "family" for real - had a dine-out at the Berlin zoo.
Drehorgelfest Berlin 2016
By Uwe Gernert
Since I got some of the old mechanical instruments made between 1880 und 1930 at Leipzig, Dr. Birgit Heise, curator of the Grassi Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig invited me on the occasion of the opening of the thematic exhibition "music.mp0 - Selfplaying Instruments from Leipzig" to those ceremonies. The exhibition was presented to the public on last Saturday. Birgit asked me to play one or two of my Tanzbärs at the get-together-party after the opening ceremony.
I personally can recommend to visit that exhibition. More than 15 of the instruments are presented "life" - the students of the university of Leipzig volunteraly present some of the most remarkable instruments to the public each day from 13:00 through 17:00 h. Birgit herself has profound knowledge of those instruments as she provided a detailed online-catalogue of the history of the mechanical instruments built at Leipzig - an unbelievable good source for the collector:
A catalogue to the exibition can be bought at the museum and online. From that catalogue it is possible to obtain impressions of nine instruments playing by QR-code. But also You can watch them play by following the link below:
And here the link to the museums own page for that special event:
The photographical impressions You see below are given by courtesy of Grassimuseum, Dr. Birgit Heise. And this is not even the best You will find there! The exhibition will be continued to 31. January 2016.
Exhibition at Grassimuseum Leipzig
Our secretary Gerrit Verhagen sent us the following (photo) report of the almost legendary annual event with the dance tent at La Roche:
Last Saturday 1 August we travelled to La Roche. As always, the atmosphere was great, this time with a brand new organ! The "Century Junior" of Jean-Pierre Toury played perfectly, which made sure that the dance floor was always full! We congratulate Jean-Pierre with his new organ and also the firm of Decap Herentals, who have built this beautiful organ!
We wish the new Century Junior all the best!
Gerrit also uploaded a short movie on YouTube.
La Roche 2015
This year's festival in Thun was attended by our member Uwe Gernert from Germany. The organisation of the festival was as perfect as always, the committee delivered an AAA+-Job. Parking and unloading of the cars was organized perfectly, the town-hall's basement as usual was guarded storage for the organs throughout the festival. Under best weather conditions (maybe a little bit too hot) the organs and their players were exposed through Saturday and Sunday. The festival started as usual with the Swiss club's annual gathering on Friday evening, followed by the invitation of the Town of Thun for an 'apero'. As traditional afterwards the organ players and their families were invited to a get-together-dinner. Saturday and Sunday everybody was invited to play their organs in the streets of the town.
Here Uwe presents some impressions of the Thun festival.
- Category: Miscellaneous
Under the direction of Astrid Mertens, a documentary is being made in Brussels which tells the story of orchestrions and organs. The production team is looking for footage from any period (with or without sound) showing these instruments in dance halls, dance tents, in cafés, at fairs, …
Thanks for your help!