Randel (Randy) R. Wagner
1952 - 2019
Randel Wagner, singer and conductor, was a professor of music and director of choral and vocal activities at Eastern Washington University for nearly 20 years. An award-winning baritone, he was a regional finalist in Metropolitan Opera Auditions, a national finalist in the National Association of Teachers in Singing's (NATS) Singer of the Year competition and a recipient of the Nicolai Gedda Award at the Music Academy of the West. Wagner maintained an active recital, masterclass, and conducting schedule, traveling throughout the United States and to Europe and Japan.
In addition to performing numerous solo roles in a number of operas, Wagner sang with the San Francisco Opera as a chorister and was a member of the Seattle Opera Company and the Spokane Opera. He sang with the Lincoln Symphony and the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, Nebraska Sinfonia, the Michiana Symphony, Mid-Columbia Symphony, Seattle Pro Musica, and the Masterworks Ensemble.
Wagner had a particular interest in promoting opera and music to young audiences. He performed for many school groups under the auspices of Northwest Opera in Schools and with sponsorship from the Washington State Arts Commission.
A native of Spokane, Washington, Wagner sang his first public solo at age sixteen, when he participated in the Spokane Music and Allied Arts Festival. He attended Walla Walla College, now University, where he completed a B.Mus. in music education in 1976. While at WWC, he was a featured soloist in the Walla Walla Symphony December 1975 presentation of the Messiah. He returned as a featured singer in a recital series held during WWC's centennial in 1992.
Wagner subsequently taught voice and conducted choirs at the high school level in San Diego, where he completed a master's degree in choral conducting and voice at San Diego State University in 1980, and at colleges in Texas and Nebraska. He completed a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993. Before his last appointment, he taught voice at Towson University in Maryland and was Director of Choral Activities at Hammond High School in Columbia, Maryland.
At EWU, Wagner conducted the 46-member Symphonic Choir and the 12-member Chamber Choir. The latter toured in Italy and performed at the Northwest MENC Convention and in the Northwest Bach Festival. Because of his work at EWU, he was a recipient of the Fosseen/Kusaka Distinguished Professor and the CenturyTel Faculty Achievement awards. He was living in Spokane, Washington, when he died on December 22, at age 67. He was survived by his mother Hazel; wife Barbara Wood; daughter Andrea; and a brother Wesley and sister-in-law Frances.
Sources: Biography at Eastern Washington University website (2013); Program notes for WWC Centennial Chamber Series (1992) and Northwest Sacred Music chorale program (2012-2013); personal knowledge, obituary at www.legacy.com.