Wartburg Community Symphony_Final-Black

Opus 70: 2022-23 Season

Our 70-Year Symphonic Legacy
The Wartburg Community Symphony traces its beginning to 1952, when Ernest Hagen, a young Wartburg College music professor, organized an orchestra comprised of community and college musicians. He recruited throughout the Waverly area, and conducted the group’s first performance as part of that year’s Christmas with Wartburg program. The WCS included 16 college students and 38 community members.

The orchestra founded by Ernest Hagen has given Waverly bragging rights for many years as the smallest American city hosting an orchestra belonging to the League of American Orchestras. Today, under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Nederhiser, the orchestra has reaffirmed its role in both the college and community, doubling in size and attracting an increased number of community and college musicians. 

As part of the 70th anniversary season, The Wartburg Community Symphony, in collaboration with the Wartburg Choir and ION concert media, debuted “Messages from Everywhere” by composer Jocelyn Hagen in February 2023. The work combines AI-generated art, poetry, and deep technological initiatives which provide a unique sensory experience for the viewer/listener.

Wartburg Community Symphony

New Dawn | Oct. 15, 8 p.m.
The symphony’s 70th season will recall its origins while looking forward to a rejuvenating new decade. Symphony alumni will join the ensemble to perform Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. Beethoven’s exhilarating Triple Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Symphony no. 5 will round out the program.

Raise your Voices | Dec. 10, 2 p.m.
This family-friendly concert will include Christmas classics such as Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Vaughan Williams’ On Christmas Night masque. Audience members will delight in a performance of Handel’s Messiah featuring soloists Jennifer Larson, Brian Pfaltzgraff, Madalynn Baez ’18, and Travis Toliver. The choir will include members of Bel Canto Cedar Valley, the Waverly-Shell Rock Chamber Choir, and St. Paul’s and United Methodist church choirs.

Music Takes Flight | Feb. 18, 2 p.m.
The symphony will soar to new heights with Respighi’s The Birds, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and a world premiere by Jocelyn Hagen, featuring the Wartburg Choir. In keeping with the theme, the concert will close with Haydn’s Symphony no. 83, The Hen.

Onward | April 15, 7 p.m.
The season finale is an homage to the triumphs and growth the symphony has experienced over 70 years. The concert will highlight winners of the Wartburg concerto competition. Featured works will include Bizet’s “Overture” from Carmen, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Saint-Saëns’ Symphony no. 3 in C Minor with Karen Black, organist.

ORDER TICKETS: Available online with credit card or at the door with cash, check or credit card
REGULAR TICKETS: Adults: $17 | Youth (18 years old and under) and Wartburg Students: FREE


Click on options below to see details.


Your membership helps the symphony offer innovative programs, feature outstanding soloists, nurture student musicians, and enrich the cultural life of Waverly and the Cedar Valley. 

Association members at the Prodigy level and above will receive up to two complimentary tickets to each concert and Patron level members receive one complimentary ticket for each concert. Memberships may qualify for tax-deductible gift credit (minus the cost of the tickets). Member names will be listed in the program. All tickets are general admission. Complimentary season tickets are mailed to members at the beginning of the season and available in the lobby for those who purchase memberships at a concert. For questions, email wcs@wartburg.edu.

Membership Levels

  • GOLD BATON $1,000-$5,000
  • MAESTRO $500-$999
  • VIRTUOSO $250-$499
  • PRODIGY $100-$249
  • PATRON $50-$99

Symphony auditions for the 2022-23 season will take place at Wartburg College on Sept. 7, 7-9 p.m. in Orchestra Hall (Strings) and Sept. 8, 6-9 p.m. in Orchestra Hall (Winds/Brass/Percussion). Audition excerpts will be available by Aug. 1, 2022. To schedule an audition, please email the symphony’s operations manager Sally Malcolm at sally.malcolm@wartburg.edu.

All sponsorships will be listed in concert programs. Sponsorships of $250 or more include optional advertising space in four consecutive concert programs. As a thank you to our business sponsors, complimentary season tickets will be provided at the following levels. These can be great gifts for your staff or customers.

Business Sponsorship Levels & Benefits

  • $1,000 (full page ad and 6 season tickets)
  • $500 (1/2 page ad and 4 season tickets)
  • $250 (business card ad and 2 season tickets)
  • Other
Ad Sizes for Symphony: Full: 8x5 vertical; Half: 4x5 horizontal; Bus Card: 2x3 horizontal

All advertisements must be sent electronically as a JPG, PNG or PDF to Chuck Infelt at candlinfelt@sbcglobal.net. If you need a printed sponsor form or have other questions please email Chuck as well. Design services are not provided. The art deadline is Oct. 1 for fall programs.

The Alan and Patricia Hagen Legacy of Music Scholarship (HLMS) Endowment
This scholarship was established in July 2022 through generous gifting from friends of the Hagen family, friends of the Wartburg Community Symphony and John and Lori Hagen. It will be awarded to an incoming or continuing Wartburg College student studying an orchestral string instrument, and is based on the student’s playing level and orchestra need.

The Enduring Legacy of the Hagens
Alan and Patricia Hagen shared a dedication to music that continues to enrich Waverly and countless other communities through their students, who have become professional musicians, church and community musicians and avid supporters of music.  Alan was a widely recognized choral director at Waverly-Shell Rock High School. Patricia was an accompanist and taught private vocal and piano lessons to generations of budding musicians.  The Hagens took many high school choirs to Europe and earned the top Prize of Vienna at a competition in Austria.

During Winter Term 2007 Alan served as Interim Wartburg Choir director.  Patricia served as an adjunct piano and voice instructor at Wartburg College at various times from the 1970’s until 2000.  Alan was presented the Robert McGowen Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Iowa Choral Directors Association. Fittingly, Alan and Patricia were honored with joint Certificates of Appreciation in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Choral Music Education from Wartburg and Luther College.  They also served at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waverly, Patricia as organist and music director and Alan as senior choir and bell choir director.  In retirement Alan directed the Wartburg Artist Series and Patricia served as a pianist for the Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community.


The Brent Jensen Memorial Scholarship (BJMS) Endowment
The Brent Jensen Memorial Scholarship was established in 2018 through an estate gift from Grant and Nancy Jensen, Brent’s brother and sister-in-law. It is awarded annually to a Wartburg College student studying an orchestral string instrument, and is based on playing level and orchestra need.

“Brent loved the symphony and was a longtime member. When he passed, there were significant memorials to the symphony association in his honor because people knew how he felt about our organization,” said Jon Tehven, symphony association president at the time. “He loved the arts: music, literature, prints and paintings, as well as small, unique wooden objects. He was always at the Wartburg symphony, drum and bugle corps competitions and musical events in Waverly.”

He was not only an inspiration to others, but he was a caring friend to many.  His support of local musical events was a continuation of his enjoyment of playing trombone in high school.

The scholarship established in memory of Brent Jensen is a fitting tribute to a well-loved community member and patron of the arts.

Brent Jensen

The Wartburg Community Symphony Association (WCSA) Scholarship Endowment
The WCSA Scholarship Endowment was established in September 2012 through generous gifting from members of the symphony and other supporters in the community, as the first fund supporting scholarships for music students. Three scholarships are awarded annually to Wartburg College students studying an orchestral string instrument. Recipients are awarded based on playing level and orchestra need.

The passion that marks the Wartburg Community Symphony flows from its conductors. Those eight talented musicians have molded a music organization whose future is bright.

The Wartburg Community Symphony began, because a new Wartburg professor, 38-year-old Ernest Hagen, wanted a symphony to conduct. Passionately. After all, he had studied conducting in Berlin under the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He directed a 60-man army chorus and played in the army band, whose performances were recorded and broadcast. His Sumner (Iowa) High School vocal and instrumental groups earned first division ratings at state contests.

Hagen conducting Symphony

In the Fall of 1952, having completed a master’s degree at the University  of Iowa, Hagen joined the Wartburg College faculty and brought his young family to Waverly. Soon after he arrived, the “finest thing that has ever happened to Wartburg’s music department” was announced—accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music. However, there was no orchestra. So Hagen began recruiting players. “He recruited tirelessly,” said Carla Larson, long-time symphony supporter and wife of tenor Dr. C. Robert Larson, who joined the faculty the same year as Hagen. “He fervently visited area towns and communities and got together quite a respectable group.

”The symphony appeared first as a chamber orchestra in the 1952 Christmas at Wartburg performance. Accepted into the American Symphony Orchestra League, the orchestra played its first concert in Knights Gym Sunday evening, May 24, 1953. Musicians—16 college students and 38 community members—wore “a glittering array of formals and tuxedos.” They came from Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and 14 Iowa communities to play a program that included Bach, Grieg, and Schubert. The Waverly Chamber of Commerce presented a certificate of merit to the orchestra during intermission, and more than 500 people applauded enthusiastically.

Hagen moved on in 1959, becoming director of the Casper (Wyoming) Civic Symphony, organizing the Casper Youth Symphony and founding the Jackson Hole Fine Arts Festival (now the Grand Teton Music Festival) and several festival orchestras. Tragedy struck in 1973. Hagen lost his eyesight as he was composing an opera based on the novel “Giants in the Earth.” With the aid of special magnification devices, Hagen orchestrated the opera, which has been performed in concert version but awaits a fully-staged performance. Hagen died in 2000.

Nine passionate conductors followed Hagen.

Dr. Robert E. Lee (1959-64) smiled when he recalled taking the podium for the first time. The program was ambitious, perhaps too ambitious, with a Beethoven concerto, a Shostakovich prelude, and a Bizet symphony. Lee didn’t know it was one of the first complete symphonies the orchestra had performed. During the second movement, he called out rehearsal letters to get everyone on the same page.“…I didn’t know the orchestral repertoire that well,” said Lee, whose background was band. “We made it through that first concert and continued to build the orchestra and play some nice things.”Before Lee left the podium, he arranged for Hagen to return to conduct a tenth anniversary concert of Grieg, Haydn, Mozart, and Vivaldi, on February 2, 1964.

Dr. Franklin Williams (1965-79, 82-84) faced conducting challenges with insight.“My first shock was that we barely had enough strings to make a quartet at rehearsal. But musicians would come from all over to play on Sunday, so we’d have a rehearsal before we played the concert. I always said it was coronary time for me.”His first concert featured Rossini; the second, Shostakovich in a strenuous, sometimes raucous piece.“I kinda’ went off the deep end. With small strings you can’t do the large romantic pieces because you can’t balance the winds and strings. I love Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, but I wanted to do something different.”

Lathon Jernigan (1979-82, 85-87) drove from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls to conduct the orchestra. He led the musicians through challenging and rare pieces, including Bach’s “Concerto for Four Harpsichords.”“It was tricky finding four harpsichordists,” Jernigan said, “but we had two from Wartburg and two from the University of Northern Iowa. The community really seemed to appreciate those programs.”

John Bentley (1964-65) and Walter Temme (1984-85) each served one year as conductor.

Dr. Janice Wade (1987-2011) founded and conducted the Des Moines Community Orchestra and served as concertmaster of the Bijou Players, a silent-film touring group before arriving in Waverly. She created memorable Wartburg Community Symphony concerts using the silent film of “Phantom of the Opera” and films starring Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino. Another concert performed Holst’s “The Planets” to a 3D video of NASA planet photos. Using professional and semiprofessional musicians, Wade strengthened the quality of the Wartburg Community Symphony and arranged two cruise bookings.

Dr. Daniel Kaplunas (2011-2015) formed the Wartburg Chamber Orchestra as an avenue for students to perform and grow as musicians. He inspired students as musicians and composers. Audience numbers increased as Kaplunas drew local artists and music groups into concert programs. At his suggestion, the board established a Wartburg Community Association Endowment Fund to ensure the symphony’s future.

Dr. Jacob Tews (2015-2019) increased exposure for the chamber orchestra with a new name, “Kammerstreicher” (German for chamber orchestra). He partnered the Kammerstreicher with the Castle Singers to tour both domestically and abroad. The symphony endowment quadrupled in size during Tews’ tenure. His concert programs often featured music by modern composers and his own compositions. 

Professor Samuel Stapleton (2019-2021) utilized innovative programming to guide the symphony through the COVID-19 pandemic. He artfully programmed chamber music to maintain regular performances and began using social media to promote the symphony.

Dr. Rebecca Nederhiser (2021-present) focuses on collaborative concerts featuring nationally known artists. Under her impressive leadership the symphony and Kammerstreicher doubled in size. She created the St. George String Quartet, which provides scholarships for the four top student string players and commissioned several works for the orchestra. The symphony will celebrate its 70th season under her baton.

The Wartburg Community Symphony Association’s mission has always been to provide symphonic music to the greater Waverly community and professional experience for music students. Association membership is open to all dues-paying individuals. The association’s board of directors consists of college and community members. Although the conductor/music director is responsible for musicians and music goals, directors are involved in things such as budget, development, event management, fundraising, membership, and publicity. This governance structure distinguishes the Wartburg Community Symphony from the college’s other music organizations.

Waverly, Iowa has proudly supported a semi-professional symphony orchestra for 70 years. Founded in 1952, the Wartburg Community Symphony is comprised of Wartburg College students and community and professional musicians. The Symphony performs orchestral favorites but also presents new and innovative music, garnering recognition for its state, national, and world premieres. All concerts are held in Neumann Auditorium on the Wartburg campus and seating is general admission.

Postponed/Cancelled Concerts
In the event that weather or other situations require a concert to be postponed or cancelled, tickets will be honored at other symphony events. To request a refund, please e-mail wcs@wartburg.edu.

Rebecca Nederhiser

Assistant Professor of Music


Wartburg students have the opportunity to play alongside professional musicians to create truly magical musical moments.