July 2, 2019

Belonging with Purpose – Music at St. Stephen’s

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Alcee Chriss III (ABD) will be joining our staff as our Minister of Music. Alcee brings many gifts to this position, which will empower him to build upon our reputation for excellent choral and organ music. His first Sunday will be August 11.

Alcee’s accomplishments and dynamic personality stood out to us among the applicants for this position. In the audition he demonstrated excellence in all of the categories: choristers, organ, and adult choir. We received anonymous feedback from the choir that night. Here are some of the things that they shared: -Organ playing was outstanding, piano as well. Loved the improv piece. -Was warm and supportive. -I think he would fit our choir very well. -Fantastic organist. -Friendly and outgoing. Quite pleasant with a good sense of humor. -Terrific teacher, amazing organist. -Made great use of all the possibilities of the organ. -He obviously knows singers and how to help them achieve a better sound. Alcee’s professional accomplishments are too numerous to list within this introduction. However, a summary is possible. While pursuing his BM and MM in organ performance at the Oberlin Conservatory, he was also the Minister of Music at South Euclid UCC where he expanded the music program to help grow the congregation’s membership from 40 to 400 in 4 years. He also oversaw the design, selection and installation of a pipe organ in the parish’s new sanctuary.

While completing his coursework for his Doctor of Music in Organ Performance at McGill University, he was on the music staff at St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church in Montreal. Also during this time, he won the biggest organ competition in the world: the Canadian International Organ Competition. He was the First Prize Winner (youngest ever) and also took the Spinelli Program Prize and the Bach Prize. He also took First Prize at the Fort Wayne National Organ Playing Competition and was the Silver Medal Winner at the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition (both in 2016).

Alcee gives several organ recitals throughout the year, a schedule which he has successfully managed through all of his years of ministry. You can hear him as part of the 2019 Summer Organ Series at Riverside Church in Manhattan on Tuesday, July 16 at 7:00 PM

Alcee has just been appointed the University Organist and Artist-in-Residence at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. The part-time position at Wesleyan makes our part-time position a perfect fit. He will be moving to Connecticut from Akron, OH this summer with his partner, Alex, and their dogs and cats. Having been confirmed as an Anglican in 2009, he is excited to return to his home denomination.

Worship is the church’s highest calling because it orients us to serve and love one another. Music should inspire and shape our faith. It is not something done to us, but something we’re captured by and drawn into. With Alcee as part of the worship leadership, St. Stephen’s worship will be excellent, participatory, steeped in Episcopal tradition, engaged and leading with the emerging church, and recognized in Ridgefield as a contributor to the arts scene. In whatever way we’re already doing this, it will be strengthened. We look forward to what God has in store for us as we serve God in relationship with one another through St. Stephen’s.

*Belonging with Purpose is a weekly news update of how our purpose is being reflected through the collective and individual lives of St. Stephen’s. If you have a story or experience that you believe illustrates our Vision and Mission, please send it to Ginny Fitzpatrick, gfitzpatrick@ststephens-ridgefield.org

The staff works together to create a schedule for highlighting our ministry as St. Stephen’s Church.


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