Organist Chriss Shines Bright

October 17, 2023
Alcée Chriss wearing a brown turtle neck under a dark gray suit coat stands toward the camera with large organ pipes behind them.

Check out these featured facts surrounding the Alcée Chriss III, Organ Recital Oct 24 at Northrop.

An Organist’s Journey

Alcée Chriss III was a featured star in the PBS documentary Pipe Dreams (2019), which follows four talented organists competing in the prestigious Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC). Through a combination of personal at-home footage and immersive moments on the bench alongside competitors at the CIOC, the film shines a light on passionate young musicians while acknowledging the immense mental and physical discipline that the organ demands.

Alcée Chriss III

Photo courtesy of artist.

Musical Influence

Known for incorporating jazz and gospel influences into his performances with rhythm and movement as a core part of his inspiration, Chriss began his musical career playing gospel music in his hometown Dallas church, where his father was a pastor. He then went on to learn classical and jazz piano before turning to the organ as a teenager. Chriss is an alum of Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he received a Master’s degree in historical keyboard and a Bachelor’s degree in organ performance. In 2019, he was awarded a Doctorate of Music degree from McGill University.

Alcée Chriss III plays at Notre Dame.

Courtesy of Pierre Etienne Bordeleau.

A Rising Star

Chriss is widely regarded as one of the leading young organists of our time. He is a winner of the 2017 Canadian International Organ Competition and the Firmin Swinnen Silver Medal at the 2016 Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition. ArtsATL has recognized Chriss as “a ‘rising star’ among young organists,” and of his most recent solo recording at Montreal Symphony Hall, Art et Rhapsodie (2019), the American Record Guide wrote that “he plays with clarity, imagination, musicality, virtuosity, and yes, personality.”

The pipe organ at Memorial Chapel, Wesleyan University.

Photo by Joe Mabel.

The Ongoing Rhythms of Chriss

Dr. Chriss is active as a church musician, guest lecturer, and remains engaged with his lifelong love of gospel and jazz music. He is currently Assistant Organist at Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City, and serves on the editorial board of Vox Humana magazine—an online journal presenting current ideas, trends, and research relating to the organ by leading musicians and scholars worldwide. He serves as University Organist and Artist-in-Residence at Wesleyan University, where he teaches courses in organ and keyboard skills.