Roger Wagner was the mercurial conductor who became a preeminent choral music figure nationally and locally in the course of a career that spanned nearly five decades.
In the mid-1940s, Wagner — then a church organist and choir director — took a handful of Los Angeles singers and shaped them into the Roger Wagner Chorale. For years, the group made recordings and toured in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
With the opening of the Music Center of Los Angeles County two decades later, Wagner co-founded the larger Los Angeles Master Chorale. It became the resident chorale of the new arts complex, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and presenting its own concerts.
An authority on medieval and Renaissance music, Wagner wrote scholarly articles and was a teacher, spending 22 years on the UCLA faculty.