Anna Lapwood duets with 9-year-old superfan on the world’s biggest organ

29 May 2024, 17:53

Anna Lapwood played a Widor duet with a 9-year-old superfan on the world’s largest organ.
Anna Lapwood played a Widor duet with a 9-year-old superfan on the world’s largest organ. Picture: Anna Lapwood

By Siena Linton

Young organist Nykoda met his music hero, Anna Lapwood, who joined him at the console of the world’s biggest instrument for a duet.

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For a budding organist, only one thing can be greater than getting to play the world’s biggest pipe organ: playing a duet on the world’s biggest pipe organ, with organ star and social media sensation, Anna Lapwood.

When nine-year-old Nykoda arrived with his parents at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, it was like a dream come true.

“Do you recognise her voice from her videos? Can you guess who that is?” Nykoda’s mum asked her son, who is blind and uses a guide cane to navigate.

“Anna Lapwood! I knew it!” came the gleeful reply.

Anna had discovered the young organist on social media, just ahead of her recent tour to the US. Nykoda’s mum has been sharing videos of her son’s musical journey as he teaches himself to play music by ear at a prodigal rate. One video of him performing Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ says that he had first heard the piece less than 24 hours earlier.

Another video even shows a three-year-old Nykoda playing Ben Platt’s 2019 song ‘Bad Habit’ on piano, as his mum replied to one comment asking how he’d learned to play: “He taught himself. It started with him wanting to play the music in his favourite movies and has now grown into playing his favourite classical pieces!”

Read more: Who is Anna Lapwood? The trailblazing organist and conductor’s age, biography and performances

Nykoda’s mum has also shared some of Nykoda’s story, as curious and astounded viewers have asked how he became so good.

Whilst still an infant, Nykoda was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery to treat the cancer caused total vision loss, leaving Nykoda blind but thankfully cancer-free.

He was introduced to the piano not long afterwards, and has been teaching himself to play ever since, from Bach to Hans Zimmer, and even some Van Halen!

It’s no surprise that his enthusiasm for the organ gained the attention of Anna Lapwood, who secretly arranged with Nykoda’s mum to invite them along to her concert at Boardwalk Hall where she would play the colossal 33,000-pipe organ – the largest musical instrument in the world.

Read more: Hear the epic sound of a 33,112-pipe organ in Atlantic City – the world’s largest musical instrument

As if a seat at the concert wasn’t enough, Anna secretly arranged for Nykoda to visit the hall the day before, so that she could meet him and give him the opportunity to play the gigantic organ.

She led him to the organ console and helped him find all seven keyboards, where Nykoda began to play an impressive rendition of Widor’s jubilant Toccata.

Read more: The 10 best pieces of music ever written for the organ

Organist meets nine-year-old prodigy

Nykoda even got to play a duet with Anna. As he approached the ending of the piece’s introduction, he asked Anna to play the pedals for him as he couldn’t quite reach them.

“I’d love to!” came Anna’s enthusiastic reply, as she squeezed onto the bench beside him. Anna said she found the whole experience “incredibly moving and inspiring.”

As for how Nykoda’s mum managed to encourage such musical enthusiasm in her son? As she told one curious commenter: “Access to the instrument and lots of love and encouragement! Also giving time to just discover and create does wonders.”