An introduction to the organ through nursery rhymes

Laurie Thomas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Little Miss Muffet sat on an organ.

Well, not really, but anyone interested in learning about the heights and hollows of the instrument through nursery rhymes can go to the Cathedral of St. John for a free lesson on Saturday, Jan. 28.

The combined class and concert is a 45-minute journey combining storytelling, nursery rhymes and audience participation, starring cathedral organist Maxine Thévenot and Albuquerque Academy faculty member and FUSION actress Laurie Thomas.

“It’s a show I developed last year and took on the road across Canada,” Thévenot said.

The program excavates the pipes and pedals of the state’s largest organ with the help of Little Miss Muffet and a series of props, including a giant spider. Armed with “A Sweet for Mother Goose” by author George Akerley, the show dissects all the parts kids can readily see, comparing them to a hiker’s guide to the organ, Thévenot said.

Thomas will appear in costume for the presentation’s second half, with Thévenot playing backup.

Snippets of nursery rhymes will blend with familiar tunes such as the Easter Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony for Organ No. 5, Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in B minor —— used in countless horror movies—— and Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

“We encourage kids to bring cushions so they can sit on the floor and not be sequestered in the pews,” Thévenot said.

The organist receives regular, sometimes surprising, requests for presentations.

“Every year, I do a class with the UNM physics department,” she said, “from the perspective of acoustics and sound waves.”

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