This year saw the fifth consecutive Wersi Direct Oktoberfest. With fourteen concerts,
both formal and informal from ten artistes, plus two late night sessions it’s a very
attractive event for anyone interested in listening to electronic organs/keyboards
being played by those who really know how to do it. As all the instruments are Wersi
it goes without saying that the sounds are the best around and the artistes playing
the instruments are also among the best there are. This year the headline star was
Franz Lambert who played one late-night session in Felsenkeller style and the penultimate
concert on-stage. Both were well received and appreciated by the large audience of
around one hundred and fifty people, as is always the case when Franz performs.
The Festival also welcomed Robert Bartha, from Germany, for the second time, and
he played two concerts, one on the Wersi Louvre and one on the new Wersi Sonic. Robert’s
individual style of playing held the audience spell-bound during both concerts with
some dramatic orchestral sounds from those instruments.
Also joining the line-up at the Festival for the second time was David Dunlap, from
Florida, performing on Wersi Scala. David has been a member of WersiClub International
since 2008 and has provided a considerable number of videos for YouTube. His unique
style of playing which demonstrated his talents for arranging and registration provided
the appreciative audience with a highly musical performance at each of his two concerts.
Claire Grieg appeared also for the second time also and entertained the audience
on two occasions showing just what can be achieved from the Pegasus Wing. Also at
the Festival for the second time was Jon Smith playing his Wersi Performer, an earlier
instrument, and his style of playing was greatly appreciated again. Florian Hutter,
from Germany, also appeared for the second time at the Oktoberfest and his concerts
and late-night session had the audience mesmerised by the way his effortless playing
on a Wersi Spectra provided such enjoyable music.
The new artiste this year was Ian Griffin who gave a concert on the Wersi Scala on
the first night. Ian is well-known on the electronic organ circuit but I believe
this was the first time he has appeared playing a Wersi instrument, to great effect.
The “regulars” also gave great concerts: Brett Wales, Ben Scott-Hyde and Robert New.
Brett ‘Elvis’ Wales was organist for the Sunday afternoon fun show “Ben’s Name That
Tune”. That was a very fine Elvis impersonation, Brett! Ben was host for the show
and Robert Bartha, David Dunlap and Jon Smith were the artiste contestants together
with three volunteers from the audience. You sure know your music, John! I’m sure
that mysterious Charlie Weeks was also there somewhere!! He is normally responsible
for the lighting at the concerts. Robert was ubiquitous throughout the Festival,
always being on-call to help wherever needed, yet he still managed to give us a highly
enjoyable concert of very interesting and individual music on his new Wersi Louvre,
music which he had available to purchase on his new CD ‘Cruel Summer’.
The Marriott Hotel at Huntingdon was the venue once again and a very comfortable
venue it is. Each en-suite room has air conditioning (which can be temperature adjusted
and even switched off if desired), a wide-screen LCD television and a beverage tray
which is refreshed each day. The hotel is also well suited to the requirements of
the Oktoberfest, with a large room which easily held all those attending as a concert
theatre, and an atrium area on the first floor which was converted by the Wersi Direct
team into a “Shop” holding many instruments and brochures. Leading from that atrium
were several rooms which were used for Teach-In Sessions.
The buffet breakfast offered all that could be wished for and the table-service dinner
consisted of three courses with a choice of three items for each course, decided
by guests at breakfast each day. The standard of cuisine was excellent and each dinner
was rounded off with coffee/tea and mints.
After we’d all indulged in scones, jam and cream with a cup of tea/coffee (available
mid-afternoon on each day), a Welcome Concert on the Friday afternoon was performed
by Hansel and Gretel; sorry, that’s Ben and Brett doing their thespian bit. Playing
in duet they were highly entertaining with great ‘live’ counterpoint and, of course,
very humorous throughout. All concerts were supported by three video screens, under
the direction of John Jackaman, so we all had several views of the keyboards and
the pedalboards while the artistes were playing.
Teach-ins, or Lessons, were held on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, stretching
just into the afternoon. These are a very useful part of the weekend for all Wersi
owners and were greatly appreciated by all who attended them. The new Wersi Sonic
was represented by two instruments and many people had a chance to try it out. I
was able to secure around ninety minutes on my own with it and you can read my report
on our Sonic page. On the Sunday morning we had a WersiClub International meeting.
Robert New gave us a short talk about the developments Wersi is currently making
and how they affect the OAX/OAS situation.
When we all left for home after breakfast on the Monday, we were refreshed, invigorated
and inspired. This sort of event doesn’t happen by itself and we all owe a debt of
gratitude to Ben who arranged the whole event, as well as to the entire Wersi Direct
team for all the hard work they put in during the whole weekend. The Stage Crew of
Keith Dennis, Matthew Porter and Tony Oliver had the task of moving organs around
daily, thus ensuring they were all in the right place at the right time: and the
organs are not light items! The whole Wersi Direct team did us all proud and we’re
all now looking forward to next year’s Oktoberfest.