Eclectic & electric

Electronic KeyboardElectronic Keyboard

Derek Farr of the East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club invites anyone yet to enjoy the diverse musical beauty of the electric organ to join them for a concert at Wanstead Library this month.

The East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club (formerly the East London and Essex Organ Society) was founded in 1982 by people who were learning to play the electronic organ at Freedmans in Leytonstone (long since closed). They were people of all ages (five to 75) and they were encouraged by the music teachers to meet once a month to socialise and entertain each other.

At first, Freedmans supplied the Yamaha organs and set them up at the Maypole pub in Barkingside. It did not take long to realise the venue was too small – interest in organ and keyboard music was growing!

We moved to the Churchill Room of Wanstead Library at the end of 1982 and have remained there ever since. After the move, we still had our members play and entertain us, and as we grew, so did the quality of those players. From an early stage we had regular professional concerts (10 months of the year with two months as members' nights). The club started with 53 members and quickly became established as a warm and friendly group that guests and players wanted to come back to. Membership rose to 124 in 1996 and by 2004 it was still at 120, but sadly, our numbers are dwindling like so many other clubs. So, we are looking for new members to join us and experience a great atmosphere. The club is not a church organ society but an electronic keyboard club and the artistes are top-class, with their concerts being made up of all types of music from classical to big band, TV themes to show tunes and more up-to-date music – something for everyone.

The artiste booked for December is one of the club's favourites, Brett Wales – one of the best on the circuit. Brett was raised by his grandparents and it was his grandfather Alwyn who returned home from work one day to discover his young grandson playing his Elka 707 organ with his left hand and keeping time to the rhythm unit. Alwyn asked if Brett could do the same with his right hand. The response was astounding. Unruffled by the request, Brett did as asked, but with both hands at once. Brett was only three at the time and Alwyn realised his grandson might be talented! Brett is a regular player at our club, appearing nearly every year, so why not come along and hear him play his white Wersi organ (electronic)?

Our concerts are enhanced by way of a projection and screen so you can see the artistes playing from anywhere in the hall. We are a very friendly club and would welcome any newcomers and guests.

The East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club meet on the second Wednesday of every month from 7.50pm to 10.15pm (doors open at 7.15pm) in the Churchill Room of Wanstead Library (annual membership: £12; member admission: £7; visitors: £9; under-16s: £1). For more information, call 020 8530 3717 or visit wavidi.co/keyboard


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