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Acclaimed organist makes Albuquerque debut

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many organists can make their instrument roar; only a few can make it sing.

Acclaimed organist Isabelle Demers will lure listeners into Harry Potter’s world of witchcraft and wizardry at the Cathedral of St. John next Sunday.

The keyboard virtuoso will mark her Albuquerque debut with her own transcriptions of John Williams’ symphonic suite. Humor, nature and virtuosity mark the program.

“It’s all the memorable tunes from the first movie,” the French Canadian said of the Potter suite in a phone interview from Waco, Texas, where she teaches at Baylor University.

“It’s like a potpourri,” she said. “I think people will recognize most of the tunes. We have a Halloween concert every year. I thought it was the best way to introduce people to the organ.”

The concert will continue with Bach’s Trio-Sonata No. 2 in C minor. The composer penned it for his son, whom he either hated or loved, according to various interpretations of the piece.

“It was to teach him independence of the limbs,” Demers said. “Some say he hated (his son) because he made it so vicious to trip him up. Others say he loved him because it’s so beautiful.

“It’s very transparent and very tuneful,” she continued. “Your right hand and your left hand and your feet all play different lines of music.”

Switching to a more romantic theme, Demers will perform Smetana’s “Vitava” from “Ma Vlast,” otherwise known as “The Moldau.” The Czech composer used the tone poem to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia’s greatest rivers.

“It’s very graphic in a good way,” Demers said. “It’s easy to understand the directions of the river.”