On Saturday, September 17, 2022, Local Board Geraardsbergen and vzw MechaMusica will host the 11th edition of the Open Belgian Championship Organ Turning. ‘Open’ means that both private and professional organ players can compete for the national title. Fifteen barrel organ players are taking a shot at the national title. Their performance will be judged on the basis of several criteria: the musical repertoire, the aesthetics and mechanics of the barrel organ as well as the appearance of the organ player and the interaction with the audience.
The BK Orgeldraai originated in the Pajotse village of Eizeringen, where humorist and barrel organ enthusiast Geert Hoste organized the first three editions with the help of the Panneels brothers of the inn In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst.
The BK always attracts many visitors. This year the competition coincides with the Geraardsberg city open day on 17 September.
“We are delighted to host the Belgian Organ Turning Championship in Geraardsbergen. We dedicate this edition to the Geraardsberg organ expert and one of the driving forces behind the Hooghuys festival, Etienne Hernou, who passed away earlier this year. That the championship coincides with our city open day is a great added value for both events,” says Alderman of Culture Ann Panis.
“It promises to be a very nice edition. Beautiful street organs and beautifully decorated hand-turning organs will give the center of Denderstad an extra festive and musical touch. They will be set up along a walking track that runs from the Markt and the Brugstraat, via the Grotestraatbrug, to the Lessensestraat, the Stationsplein, the Adamstraat, the Oudenaardsestraat and the Grotestraat”, adds MechaMusica chairman Johnny Claes. “Three barrel organs out of competition will also grace the event. At the Begijnhofkaai there will be a Hooghuys organ, which was built in Geraardsbergen and is now owned by Norbert Vroman from West Flanders. An impressive Decap dance organ will be installed on the Stationsplein for the ambiance take care and also Geraardsbergenaar Johan Hellinckx will set up a barrel organ.”
The Belgian championship will take place from 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Afterwards, all barrel organ players gather along the Dender, where the winner will be announced during the official ceremony just after 5 pm on the Begijnhofkaai.
MechaMusica was founded in 2007 and unites barrel organ builders, players and lovers of mechanical musical instruments from all over the country. The aim of the non-profit organization is to stimulate interest in and conservation of barrel organs and other mechanical musical instruments.
The Open Belgian Championship Organ Turning was organized for the first time in 2004 at the initiative of comedian Geert Hoste, who is an avid barrel organ enthusiast himself. He lent his name to the challenge cup, which the winner can keep until the next edition. The championship has already settled in Lennik, Harelbeke, Dendermonde, Turnhout, Knokke-Heist, Maldegem, Heist-op-den-Berg and Maasmechelen. This year, the organization is in the hands of Local Board Geraardsbergen and vzw MechaMusica.