Chalmers-Wesley Summer Organ Concert Series

Photo: Claude Lebel

Chalmers-Wesley United Church's 120-year old organ has 2,381 pipes

Chalmers-Wesley Summer Organ Concerts  Chalmers-Wesley United Church, located at the top of rue Sainte-Ursule in Old Quebec, will once again be alive with the sound of organ music on Sunday evenings. The annual Summer Organ Concert series gets underway at 6:00 p.m. on July 11 and continues until August 29.   The Organ Concert series was started in the 1980s by one of Chalmers-Wesley's former organists, Jacquelin Rochette, who is now  the Tonal Director for Casavant Frères, organ builders in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec. Over the past 30 years, a long list of performers, composers and musical groups have presented concerts to entertain audiences in the beautiful sanctuary of Chalmers-Wesley Church.   Unique to these concerts is the fact that the wooden panel that normally conceals the organist during worship services can be removed, thus allowing the audience to observe the musicians at work and watch their feet fly over the foot pedals. The comfortably-padded pews are set in amphitheatre style, and the lovely woodwork in the sanctuary enhances the acoustics. All these factors make any musical performance in Chalmers-Wesley an amazing experience. Refreshed and uplifted by the music and surrounded by magnificent stained-glass windows on a summer Sunday evening; what better way to prepare you for the week ahead.   Chalmers' Music Director since 1993, Alain LeBlond has organized an impressive number of organists from Québec and the USA to perform this year, starting with local musician, Mathieu Blain. His program for the evening of July 11 will include music by Bach and Franck.  Other organists performing throughout the summer are: July 18 - Sylvain Doyon (Quebec City); July 25 - Laurence Jobidon (Quebec City); August 1 - Richard Spotts (Pennsylvania, USA); August 8 - Dany Wiseman (Montreal); August 15 - Claude Girard (Rivière-du-Loup); August 22 -Jacques Boucher (organist) and Anne Robert (violin) (Montreal); August 29 -Benjamin Waterhouse. For complete program details, please visit the Chalmers-Wesley Web site at <>.  There is a door prize draw at the end of each evening's performance with coupons for a dinner at the Café de Paris for two lucky audience members.  A free-will offering is collected at each performance to help defray costs. Any profits will be directed towards the Organ Restoration Fund. Generous gifts from patrons help make it possible to offer these performances. Tax receipts will be provided for those making donations of $10 or more. Consider being a patron and supporting this concert series. Make your cheques payable to Chalmers-Wesley United Church, Organ Restoration Fund.  Much work has been done over the years to maintain and upgrade Chalmers' magnificent heritage organ. Built by the Warren Company in 1890, it underwent major rebuilding by Casavant Frères in 1912 and, in 1980 the instrument was given another urgently needed overhaul by Guilbault-Thérien. Now, some 30 years later, this fine instrument, that now has a grand total of 2,381 individual pipes, from the largest (see photo), to the smallest (not much bigger than your baby finger), is in need of still more work to restore and maintain its unique, rich sound which has delighted audiences and congregations alike for 120 years.