Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Guest Conductor William Waag For Oct. 7 Fall Concert


On Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7:00 p.m. at Crossroads Bible Church, Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra is excited to welcome guest conductor William Waag to the podium for the opening concert of its 2023-24 season.   Following the concert, a reception will be held in the lobby.  

The program Mr. Waag has chosen for this concert begins with the Overture to Nabucco, the work that solidified Giuseppe Verdi’s career as an opera composer in 1842. Among other themes from the opera, the overture previews the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” who lament both the ruin of their temple in Jerusalem and enslavement in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.

“Dances in the Canebrakes” by Florence Price takes us forward in time, picturing how some Black Americans of the late 1800s amused themselves at night after back-breaking labor throughout the day. Price was the first Black American woman to earn national recognition as a composer, starting with her Symphony No. 1, which was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. These dances, which she wrote for piano shortly before her death in 1953, were orchestrated soon afterward by another giant among 20th century American composers, William Grant Still.

For the second half of the concert Mr. Waag has chosen Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, which he began writing in 1872 while vacationing in Ukraine. Much of the work is based on three folk songs he first heard during his stay there. The brilliant finale movement in particular drew much acclaim from the so called Mighty Five composers, including Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Modest Mussorgsky, because of its exaltation of folk music. Also apparent is the Romantic Period fondness for “triumph over adversity,” expressed here by ending the movement and the symphony as a whole in the key of C major.

A native of the Pacific-Northwest, Mr. Waag currently serves as Associate Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Youth Symphony and Music Director-Designate of the Santa Fe Community Orchestra. A passionate music educator, his background includes teaching positions ranging from elementary schools through college as well as conducting wind and jazz ensembles in addition to symphony orchestras.

Admission is free, but a donation of $15 per adult is suggested and will be graciously accepted by the orchestra.  Children are always free and welcomed at these concerts.  

Nelly Case