Roger Wagner, founder/director of the Roger Wagner Chorale, founder/director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, has always demanded the same complete dedication from each member of his world-famous chorale that he gives to it. Wagner's life has been one of close involvement with choral music since early childhood.
Born in LePuy, France, the son of the organist at the famed cathedral of Dijon, Wagner enjoys both American and French citizenship. The Wagner family immigrated to New York when Roger was seven, and three years later moved to Los Angeles where his father became organist and choral director at the Church of St. Brendan. Roger returned to France in 1932 where he completed his undergraduate studies in music at the College of Montmorency. During this period he studied under the distinguished organist Marcel Dupre and also conducted detailed research in church music at Dijon and Lyons. He spent his last year in France serving in the French army.
Wagner's identification with the music of the church, however, began long before his studies in France. He was organist and choral director at the Church of St. Ambrose in Los Angeles at the age of twelve and was a boy soprano in his father's choir at St. Brendan's. By the age of fourteen, he was often called upon to substitute for his father as organist at St. Brendan's.
When he returned to the States from France in 1937, Roger first found work in Hollywood as a member of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer chorus but he was soon engaged as the music director of St. Joseph's Church in downtown Los Angeles. He spent more than twenty years as the Church's music director.
Their annual choral concerts brought such recognition to the Church and to its music director that in 1945 he was asked to be the Supervisor of Youth Choruses for the city of Los Angeles' Bureau of Music. He began with a madrigal group of twelve voices that, by 1946, had grown to thirty-two singers who debuted professionally that year as the Roger Wagner Chorale.
The Chorale has achieved an enviable international reputation and it has been called upon for concerts, radio and television appearances, motion pictures, recordings, performances with orchestra, debuts of new compositions and numerous national and international tours.
Even with his many activities involving the Chorale, Wagner has found the time to expand his career into other fields. He is well-known as a composer and arranger, in much demand as a symphonic conductor and is a highly regarded authority on the religious music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. He was awarded a Doctor of Music Degree from the University of Montreal for his dissertation on the Masses of Josquin des Pres. As a result of his great contribution to sacred music he has been knighted twice, first by Pope Paul VI as Commander Knight of St. Gregory and then by the Archbishop of Naples with the Order of St. Bridgette. In addition to his doctorate from Montreal, he holds a Doctor of Music Degree from Westminster Choir college and he has conducted their famed choir on a national tour.
He served three years as the music director of the "I Married Joan" television show and has recorded the sound tracks for many movies. He continues to serve as music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra, conducting most of their performances in both the winter and spring season.
Roger Wagner expanded his activities as a music educator during the 1975-76 season by initiating a unique new program of choral residencies. They featured half-week workshops, rehearsals and public performances of the Verdi "Requiem" and popular programs with local singers and orchestra augmenting the Chorale.
The philosophy of Wagner requires that his musicians be equal to his demands so he has always sought only the finest talent. Such famous stars as Marilyn Horne, Carol Neblett, Karen Armstrong and Theodor Uppman were once members of the Chorale.
Roger Wagner's commitment to excellence extends to areas other than music. He participated in the famed 1936 Olympics as a competitor in the decathlon. His interest in sports has continued, and he somehow manages to find moments to sail, play tennis and golf, and to attend baseball and basketball games.
To purchase a piece click on the title.
Glendale, CA. 91209
(818) 551-0801 Fax