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.

This is one of the crititical points of the festival because certain groups of players don´t move to any other place they may have been for the last decade. This year's number of organs was a little bit less than 200 - this only will work with all of the grinders organizing themselves into groups and with some distance from each other. I personally think that 200 organs are too much for the city streets of Thun. Also one has to take in consideration that there were more than 10 street or concert organs around and at the local train station the world´s biggest moveable concert organ built by Carl Frei (125 keys) was playing - this one with some technical problems which allowed some 4 friends with smaller organs to play just across the street during "maintenance periods".

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Peter Ochsenbein, one of the OK´s members for the Saturday asked for grinders going on the ships of "Schifffahrt Thunersee" starting from Thun over the Thunersee to play at one of the piers around the lake for promoting the festival grinding there. Helga and me and two Swiss friends of us decided to do that promotional tour - the staff of the boats was informed and we had free rides on all of the boats at Thunersee and played on some of the piers. Returning to Thun we played some more tunes in the streets of the old town. The evening show was presented by Hans Ruedi Schneider from the OK - it was unforgettable, because the two Bacigalupo organs I already reported to you now have two matching barrels made by Martin Zumbach and playing of three of the tunes was done by Ueli Temperli and Cyril Schulthess synchronously. As it was quite cold from the wind the evening ended much too soon.

Sunday the weather was at its best: no clouds, high temperatures from early morning so everybody was back on the streets again quite early. We decided to go to the service provided at the church of Thun with Pastor Margrit Schwander who did a service with good connotations to the organ grinders. The music played during that service came from Axel Stüber from Berlin and Esther and Daniel Widmer from Basel on their organs. Afterwards the anniversary speeches also were held at the church. After Ueli Temperli played his 42-key Baci the church organ was played by a member of the Swiss Fuchs family, Markus, who did a great job. The Fuchs´s are specialized on mechanical musical instruments (http://www.orgelbaufuchs.ch). Afterwards Brigitte Oppliger and Hansruedi Schmidhauser played their organs synchronously at perfection. The "Apero" was offered afterwards by the protestant community of Thun which was greatly welcomed by the grinders - Cyril, Ueli, Brigitte and Hansruedi played some more tunes during that occasion before we all went downtown again to play our organs on the streets. We personally had a very fine group of players that Sunday with Rene Spinnler and one of his "homemade" replicas of the "Ariston" (which opened up to give insight to the technique) and Hans Kunz with his historic "Manopan" from Leipzig; meanwhile Helga and me played our organs and I for myself played one of mine historical "Tanzbär"-accordeons. We had a lot of public in front of our instruments throughout the whole afternoon. In fact you couldn´t tell that from all the spaces where organ players showed up, public interest was not as big as the years before. We don´t know if it was due to the weather conditions or desinterest of the public - there were much less listeners than in the years before. Personally I´ll be happy to show up for the 21st festival in 2019 and recommend a visit!

Bekijk alle foto's op https://photos.app.goo.gl/HTyPqDjkyPRBnQr43.

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