At the Fringe: Stories from Davos (1) – the Organ Player

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Davos Platz – It’s not often I walk into an Evangelist Church, I rarely find them to be anything more than buildings of purely functional purpose. As I walked by this one on Saturday, though, my eye was caught by this curious statue of a man dressed in goat fur up to the waist, holding high a scepter reminiscent of a banana tree. Intrigued, I thought I’d give this church dedicated to St. John the Baptist a chance.

Indeed, nothing remarkable – just minimal decoration and four plain white walls – except for some imposing organ melody in the background. I was about to walk out when I heard a voice in German call out: “Can I help you”?

84-year-old organist Werner Steinert at the Evangelist Church in Davos

Dimitrios Sofroniou

84-year-old organist Werner Steinert at the Evangelist Church in Davos

I turned my head up to see an old man by the organ, holding his right ear in his palm, as though to hear better. “Hello, sir” – I responded – “Just looking around…” – “Sorry, what?”

I joined the half-deaf organ player, Herr Werner Steinert, by his instrument. Since his wife died 8 years ago, the 84-year-old from Sachsen, Germany has been coming back every September to spend his holidays in ealy autumn Davos, alone.

“The organ is always waiting for me here” he says, “they are happy to have a regular player for this time. You will always find me here 10 to 11a.m. every day. Come over to the service tomorrow, I also have a lady-singer counterpart on Sundays”.

I introduce myself before saying goodbye. “Oh, Greeks are orthodox, right? Doesn’t matter, everyone is welcome here, of course, see you tomorrow!”

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