Saint Ansgar's Lutheran Church
Montreal - Quebec - Canada

Our Music

[Our Musical Director] [Our Handbells and Choir]
[Our Alternate Organist] [Our Previous Organists] [Memorable Musical Events]

Lutherans value music greatly. We take great pride in the knowledge that many of the world’s greatest composers were, in fact, Lutheran. First, and foremost, Johann Sebastian Bach was Lutheran, as were his cousin, Johann Christoph and sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Karl Philipp Emanuel, to name some. Other composers of note that were Lutherans, were Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Georg Friedrich Handel, Michael Praetorius, Dietrich Buxtehude, Johannes Brahms, and Max Reger.

We have a wonderful pipe organ, built especially for our church by Karl Wilhelm organ builders in 1989. We enjoy hearing it every Sunday morning. We have a fine grand piano, as well and we enjoy hearing our handbells every Sunday morning – sometimes just one bell, and at other times a group of ‘ringers’ playing tunes. We have a small choir of singers as well, that typically sing around the grand piano on special Sundays. For those who are more inclined to be ‘folksy’, our Pastor sometimes brings in his guitar and accompanies the congregation or maybe just himself in a couple of songs.

Here is a summary description of our organ:

-Manual 2

-Holzgedackt 8’
-Rohrfloete 4’
-Prinzipal 2’
-Cornet II 2 2/3’
-Siffloete 1’
-Dulzian 8’ (installed June 2015)

[See A More Detailed Description of the Organ]


More information about this organ can be found at:

See pictures of the [Organ Being Built (1988) and of its Dedication (1989)]

Read more about the [Completion of this Organ and its Rededication in 2015]

Our Musical Director and Organist

Alcee Chriss III

Celebrated for his “grace, skill and abundant proficiency” (Journal Assist News, Albuquerque), Alcee Chriss III has performed throughout the United States and France and is emerging as an outstanding young concert artist of virtuosity and versatility. He has won top prizes at international and national competitions, receiving First Prize and Audience Prize in the Miami International Organ Competition (2014), the Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition in Wethersfield, CT (2013), and the Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists in Austin, TX (2013). Mr. Chriss performed as a “Rising Star” at the AGO National Convention in Boston, MA during the summer of 2014. More recently, Alcee was selected as one of five finalists for the final round of the Taylor Organ Competition in Atlanta, GA in April 2015, and won the $5,000 second prize. He also spent January 2014 in France studying historic organs and repertoire and performed in a concert at the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse. Alcee will return to France in April 2016 to perform a solo recital as a part of the Festival Myrelingues in Lyon.

An alumnus of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Alcee received the Masters degree in historical keyboard and a Bachelors degree in Organ. At Oberlin, he studied organ with James David Christie, Olivier Latry, and has had studies in improvisation with Marie-Louise Langlais. He has studied harpsichord and continuo playing with Webb Wiggins and Hank Knox. In May 2015, he served as the harpsichordist for Oberlin’s production of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s opera Les Plaisirs de Versailles at both the National Museum of American History and the Boston Early Music Festival.



In the fall of 2015, he began his doctorate degree at McGill University where he studies with Hans-Ola Ericsson. He has performed in such venues as the Myerson Symphony Center (Dallas, TX), John F. Kennedy Center, Washington National Cathedral, Caruth Auditorium, and St. Olaf’s Catholic Church, Minneapolis MN, among others. In addition to his organ and harpsichord studies, Alcee is active as a conductor and jazz pianist.


Our Handbells and Choir


A three-octave set of Schulmerich handbells has been assembled through the years from donations from our supporters. In 1984, a one-octave set of handbells was donated to St. Ansgar’s church by Camilla Clausen, in memory of her husband, Jørgen. This was the beginning of our experience with handbells. As time went on, additional bells were added to provide a wider selection of music. Most of these bells were also donated in memory of someone dear. The handbells are used as call-to-worship bells and for special music as well. On occasion the bell choir has performed at other churches for a number of occasions.

Maren Nelson first organized and directed a Sunday School Bell Choir and soon afterwards started an Adult Bell Choir. Over the years Nancy Corwin, Fanny Hung, Julia Shantz, Thomas Leslie and now Loren Carle have directed our handbell choir.

See more about our Handbell Choir:

  • Performance at Stille Nag concert at Wesley United Church in December, 2003
  • Performance at Stille Nag concert at Wesley United Church in December, 2002
  • Our Alternate Organist

    Wilhelmina Tiemersma

    Wilhelmina Tiemersma has been our alternate organist since 2007.

    She studied with Bernard Lagacé at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal from 1972 until 1976. She won the John Robb Memorial Organ Competition in 1974. She graduated from the Conservatoire in 1976 with a First Prize in Organ.

    She has played major organ recitals at well-known concert venues such as St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, the Maison Provinciale des Frères Maristes in Iberville and Metropolitan United Church in Toronto. She has recorded ten organ recitals for the Société Radio-Canada and the CBC. She has also been heard, via re-broadcast, on the BBC.

    Her name is mentioned in the Encyclopædia of Music in Canada as being one of Bernard Lagacé’s most notable pupils.



    Our Previous Organists

    Loren Carle

    Director of Music – Loren Carle (2012 – 2015)

    Loren Carle completed his Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ at Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, in 1998, having trained with Dr. Willis Noble (now of Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, NB), and Gayle Martin of Truro, NS. Thereafter, Loren served as Organ Scholar and Assistant Organist at Montréal’s Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican). Loren also completed his Master of Music in Harpsichord at McGill (2007, Hank Knox, Instructor). Loren then served as Organist at St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Westmount from 2006 to 2012.

    As a rounded church-musician, Loren brings to his work a love of diversity—from the earliest sources of liturgical chant through the masters of the 16th century, to the best offerings of today’s composers and Christian hymnody from around the world. At the organ, Loren seeks to provide lively and sensitive leadership for hymn-singing and liturgical song, and specializes in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire for which the St. Ansgar’s organ is particularly suited. As a choral director, Loren seeks to foster healthy singing in each member of the choir, and a healthy, safe, and convivial working environment.



    At St. Ansgar’s, you’ll find some of Montréal’s most engaged hymn-singing. Lutherans love to sing! The joy of Lutheran liturgy is that each part of the service is given expression or punctuation in song. The role of the choir in Eucharistic liturgy, such as you’ll find most weeks at St. Ansgar’s, is a special one. While the bulk of the singing is done by the whole assembly, the choir adds its dedication and skill to bring added depth to the liturgical narrative. The choir adds extra touches of warmth, colour, and spice to each part of the service, and assists the whole assembly in singing “lustily and with good courage.”

    Thomas Leslie

    Director of Music – Thomas Leslie (2007 – 2012)

    A transplanted Haligonian with two music degrees under his belt - from McGill and Wilfrid Laurier Universities - Thomas Leslie has been Director of Music at St. Ansgar’s church since the Fall of 2007. In addition, he recently completed a degree in Executive MBA at Université de Québec à Montréal.

    Thomas brings with him an eclectic skill-set, playing the organ or piano and simultaneously leading us by singing in his operatically trained tenor voice. Thomas regularly performs as Tenor soloist with various ensembles and has in the past 5 years performed the Tenor solo in Handel’s Messiah several times in the Montreal area. Thomas has enriched our church with his music and his dedication to the voice and bell choirs, always stretching their capabilities. Thomas worked at McGill in several administrative positions and has also been a reserve officer in the Canadian Forces.



    In August 2012, Thomas was appointed Executive Director of the CIOC (Canadian International Organ Competition). Subsequently Thomas tendered his resignation as Organist/Music Director at St. Ansgar’s church due to the heavy workload in his new position. As our organist, Thomas played for us until the middle of December. We wish Thomas all the best in his future endeavours.

    Julia Shantz

    Director of Music – Julia Shantz (1997 – 2007)

    Julia came to us from a stint as organist and choir accompanist at Val Royal Baptist Church. She had, under her belt, a M. Mus. in organ performance from U of M and a B. FA. From Concordia, having studied under Réjean Poirier and Bernard Lagacé and at CEGEP St. Laurent she had studied harpsichord with Hank Knox and Marie Bouchard and organ with Réjeanne St-Denis. She was the winner of RCCO John Robb Organ Competition in 1995 among some others.

    When our then – choir director, Fanny Hung left us, Julia took over the task of directing the choirs, as well as continuing as our organist. With her gentle soul she led the choir and handbells, sometimes adding musicians from her private choir, when our numbers were small. On several occasions our handbells performed at Wesley United Church under Julia’s direction, when we played at several Zerf concerts.

    Julia got married at St. Ansgar’s in 2006 and a year afterwards she felt the need to return to her own church and to pursue further studies in teaching music. Julia comes back on occasion with her family to play or sing for us, much to our delight.



    [Link to Short Bio]


    Tammy-Jo Mortensen

    Director of Music – Tammy-Jo Mortensen (1996-1997)

    I remember my time at St. Ansgar’s so fondly. I had come from Edmonton to study in the master’s degree (organ) at McGill with John Grew. He mentioned this congregation in NDG which had a history of great music and a fine little Wilhelm organ. He hinted that my Danish last name might be an asset! So I found myself playing Sunday morning at St. Ansgar, Wednesday noon at the Presbyterian College, and singing Sunday evensong at Christ Church Cathedral. As organist at St. Ansgar, I worked so hard writing up notes about the music, and learning a lot repertoire. I remember how quiet people would be in the church sanctuary during the prelude and how they sat and listened to the postlude, knowing it was all part of the service. I enjoyed working with Pastors Strauch and Zumbrock and I remember trying to follow along (and lead!) in the occasional services in other languages!

    I finished at McGill in 1997 and got married to Mike in Edmonton that summer and we decided to stay. It was a good choice, as we both have family and wonderful careers here - he as an owner/programmer of an IT business, and me at Robertson-Wesley United Church, where I do all the playing, conduct the choir and two handbell choirs. I am working part-time at a Master's degree in Choral Conducting at the U of A. Mike and I have one lovely little boy, Lucas who seems to like music as much as his mom and dad do!




    Dr. Bo Alphonce

    Director of Music – Dr. Bo Alphonce (1991? - 1996)

    Our beloved Bo Alphonce passed away on Sunday, May 14, 2000, at the age of 68 (1932-2000). He was a member of the Saint-Ansgar's community for many years and we were delighted to benefit from his extensive musical talent while he served as our organist. Indeed, he was among the prime movers involved in the acquisition of our marvelous pipe organ, along with Linda Tae, Ruth Stoltzfus (our organist at the time), Paul Pedersen and the Holobows. The organ was custom built by Karl Wilhelm at his shop in Sainte-Hilaire, paid for in part by a gift willed to the Church by our faithful member Marinus Christiansen. It was inaugurated in 1989. After Ruth Stoltzfus left us to move with her family to Illinois, Bo became our regular organist, until such time, over a half-decade later, that he retired from his post at McGill University.

    While he played for us, Bo Alphonce also served as chair of the Music Theory department in McGill's Faculty of Music from 1993-1996. He was renowned for a number of important contributions to Music Theory. In 1993 he was named a Fellow of the Swedish Academy of Music, Sweden being his native land.



    He retired also as our organist in 1996 and recommended his replacement, Tammy-Jo Mortensen, one of his students. He would return on occasion to play for us when a replacement was needed. This continued on into the time when Julia Shantz became our organist. He and his wife eventually moved to Ontario (and they wintered in Florida.). After more than a decade of not hearing him play, his music is still missed.

    Organists 1981-1989:

    Gita Nichol
    Gerda England
    Marian Holobow
    Ingrid Lavergne
    Linda Tae
    Ruth Stoltzfus
    Dr. Bo Alphonce



    Organists 1989 - Present:

    Ruth Stoltzfus (1982? - )
    Dr. Bo Alphonce (1991? - 1996)
    Tammy-Jo Mortensen (1996-1997)
    Julia Shantz (Oct. 1, 1997 – 2007)
    Thomas Leslie (Oct. 1, 2007 – December 9, 2012)
    Loren Carle (January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015)
    Alcee Chris III (September 30, 2015 - )


    Memorable Musical Events


    • July 28, 2013: 11:00: A Visiting Finnish Choir ministered to us in a joint service with the Finns. The previous time we had hosted a visiting choir from Finland, in 2005, the music and singing were equally fantastic.


    Web Page maintained by Roger Kenner and Jette Blair.
    St. Ansgar's Lutheran Church - Montreal: Last Updated: 2018/01/24