Bach’s “Magnificat,” rich with trumpets and triumphant voices, celebrates the glory of God. Sunday, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo will echo with that masterpiece, celebrating a music director whose gifts enriched the church’s worship services for over 50 years.
The church’s longtime music director, Barbara Wagner, had planned to retire this year but suffered a stroke in December, bringing her musical activity to a premature stop.
Sunday’s performance, which will take place during the 11 a.m. worship service, will be directed by Ansgarius Aylward, assistant concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He will be conducting a chamber orchestra made up of BPO musicians. Besides the “Magnificat” – an extensive piece featuring chorus and vocal soloists – Aylward and his colleagues will be performing an excerpt from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3.
In addition to her long tenure at the Unitarian Church, Wagner was involved with the Buffalo music community in a wide variety of ways. She was the first director of the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, a post she held for a decade, and also taught for many years at Nichols School.
Wagner has always been known for her positive energy and earthy sense of humor. She laughed freely when talking to The Buffalo News a few years ago about conducting the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus.
“I didn’t know at first what they wanted with an old straight broad like me,” she joked.
Aylward, who began working on the “Magnificat” with her before her stroke, has collaborated with her extensively and admires both her warmth and her musicianship.
“She’s full of enthusiasm, and she loves the music, and she’s able to communicate it to her choirs,” he said. “She communicates vitality and love of music.”
Wagner is not expected at the service, but Aylward said her health is good. The public is welcome Sunday, and there is no admission charge.
The church is at 695 Elmwood Ave., at the corner of West Ferry Street.
For information, call 885-2136.