Jean Labre (photos M. Vicent-Roubert)All the Harmonicas
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World Harmonica Festival 2005 (WHF 2005)
We invite you to read Jean Labre article ; he was logistical coordinator for the French delegation and jury member for the international competition during the 2005 event.

Like the Big Canyon or the Taj Mahal, Trossingen cannot be described. It is like a pilgrimage, lived intensely and then kept engraved forever in one's memory.
Trossingen, mythical town, was celebrating this year its 148 years of a life dedicated to harmonica and its world influence. This is also where, on October the 3rd 1950, was born the F.I.H (Fédération Internationale de l'Harmonica) during a constitutive meeting with the participation of 11 countries (1) ; the purpose of this association was to promote and organize, with the logistical support of Hohner Company, international harmonica events.
Then followed many Festivals with " Championnats ", which were more european than worldwide, because of an inadequate international communication.
In 1985, the I.H.O. (International Harmonica Organization) birth, helped to improve the international relations and to give a real world dimension to the competitions, always with the cooperation of the F.I.H. And so, in 1989 in Trossingen, took place the first World Festival worthy of the name.
During the nineties, FIH and IHO alternatively organized the events : Detroit USA in 1991, Yokohama Japan in1995, and between, the WHF in Trossingen every 4 years.

This naturally leads us, in this November, to the 2005 WHF .
49 French were there to take part in it.
Organized by the FIH, this WHF was sponsored by Hohner S.A., DHV (Deutscher Harmonica Verband) and Trossingen town. The presidency has been entrusted to Gerhard Müller (present FIH president), vice presidency to Steve Baker and the jury presidency to Rob Janssen (Fata Morgana).The competition jury was made of a representation of players and musicians coming from 13 countries, who, during 3 days, have had to do a considerable work, to decide, with impartiality, between 520 competitors from 27 countries, divided in 11 categories.
The level was high. This is usually an opportunity for new talents to emerge, but I must say that the competition is becoming more and more difficult with the breakthrough of asian countries formidable competitors walking off with a good deal of medals. An example is the excellent Hong Kong orchestra of which the demonstration was breathtaking.

But we mustn't forget the Laakirchen (Austria) praiseworthy orchestra, conducted by Walter Buchinger, and praiseworthy as well, " Harmonica 17 ", conducted by Pierre Couteau, which took the fith place with a mention of excellency.

Click to see enlarged image.

Apart from it, France won only a silver medal, in free chromatic category. Antoine Leroux accompanied at the piano by Nami Miyata (the most parisian of all of us), won this medal with the mention " excellent ".

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Ten other French, in different categories, won honourable excellent mentions.
But we must realise that we are to-day, far away from the past France Harmonica successes, mostly because of the " Rising Sun " countries performances.
Anyway, this event is an opportunity for every one to compare with harmonica players from everywhere and to measure his own skill, thinking, as he leaves the place, that he'll try to do better next time.

The honours list of this Festival is published on the Festival site : .

Trossingen is also the place of many events, exceptionnal rendez-vous, offering to visitors a great variety of programs accorded to their specialities and likings. A good example are the three evening concerts, and among them the "Ladies night ", novelty to which participated virtuoso ladies : Naoko Takeuchi (Japan), Michal Adler-Gronich (Israël), Kathrin Gass (Germany), Hermine Deurloo (Holland) and the last evening, Beata Kossowska (Poland), the diatonic" Madonna ". A real pleasure for the ears and also the eyes.
We can also add the success of the 18 workshops, managed by internationally known specialists.
The only negative point was the competitions places dispersal, which meant a lot of walks through the town. But Trossingen has its charm and the weather this year was an " indian summer " favourable to this kind of exercise. It has also permitted to many of us to visit for the first or even the second time, the wellknown harmonica and accordion museum, alone of its kind, always remodelled by the tireless Martin Häffner.
It is in Martin-Luther-Kirche that Yashuo Watani, the King's Harmonica Quintet and Ulrich Müller Fross gave with a great success, on the Saturday afternoon, a chamber music concert. But each one has his place of worship, the diatonic and chroma-jazz hardliners met every night until early hours for a late night session , at the Kesselhaus, with Steve Baker and his guests.

This 2005 WHF has been a big success. The offer of events was so large that you wished you could be in different places at the same moment. This is Trossingen magic.
I wish to thank the organizers, the Hohner Company, the FIH and more particularly Gerhard Müller and his team who welcomed so warmly the French delegates.

Click to see enlarged image.

This is Alexander V. Savelyev. He arrived from Ukraine, after a three days tiring journey, with a total of 42 hours in bus and train, and many troubles to cross over frontiers, etc. He is one of us, he shares the same passion, what ever may be the country where you are born.
" Si tous les harmonicistes du monde voulaient se donner la main... " Well, it's done !
See you soon, Alexander, in Trossingen, in 2009 and thank you for coming.

Jean Labre
France Harmonica Founder Président

(1) The 11 countries were : North Africa (...), South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Eire, Spain, France, Great Britain, Holland, Northern Ireland, Switzerland.

English translation Josette Labre

photos : Swaran Sing Arri/WHF2005 and Phil. Delbourg.
Published December 15th 2005


Copyright © Jean Labre 2005-20 - Updated on August 4th 2020 -