The Wagner Society of Northern California is part of a tradition dating back to 1871, when Richard Wagner inspired the founding of the Wagner Vereine in the hope that they would finance the first Bayreuth festival performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen. The drawing room at Wahnfried was painted with the coats-of-arms of all the German cities with Wagner Societies.
Today, the Society is one of many around the world which provide an opportunity for lovers of Wagner’s music — from the beginner to the sophisticate — to come together to share experiences, to learn, and to help promote appreciation and performance of the works of Richard Wagner.
The Society is characterized by the warmth and camaraderie which prevail among those sharing a deep common interest. The Society sponsors a variety of public programs and social events, publishes a quarterly journal, supports young Wagner artists through a grant program, sometimes provides tickets to Bayreuth, and maintains rewarding relationships with a distinguished group of Honorary Members.
Programs and Events
The Society holds meetings and events approximately monthly. Programs include scholarly lectures, interviews with prominent Wagnerian artists, film showings, recitals, panel discussions, exhibitions, and receptions for visiting performers. The Society has produced two complete operas: a concert performance of Der fliegende Holländer and a fully-staged Das Rheingold. Each December the Society celebrates the holidays with a “Cosima’s Birthday” party, and each May brings a gala Wagner’s Birthday banquet, usually with one of the stars of the Wagnerian world as guest of honor.
Here, two of the great Wagnerian singers of our time and Honorary Members of the Society, the late Hans Hotter and the late Jess Thomas, with former WSNC president Verna Parino at a Society reception.
An important activity for the Wagner Society is to support the education and development of young Wagner artists and scholars. In 1985 the Society established the WILLIAM O. CORD MEMORIAL GRANT FUND and created a Grant Committee to solicit and evaluate applications for support. Since then many promising young singers and production artists have been awarded grants, and several have gone on to launch international careers.