Mary Badarak Conducts Final Concert

Mary Badarak, long-time conductor of the Los Alamos Choral Society, performed her final concert Sunday. She is retiring. Photo by Carl Newton/Courtesy




Sunday, a large crowd of music-lovers and well-wishers were in the United Church of Los Alamos when Mary Badarak, long-time conductor of the Los Alamos Choral Society, directed the Choral Society for the last time.


The concert—14 short songs featuring six that Badarak had arranged and three that she had composed—was a success that brought the crowd to its feet to join in a thundering rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and later brought them laughter and reverie.


Outside the church sanctuary, members of the Choral Society had set up a reception honoring Bararak on her Choral Society retirement day. A “paper plate census” showed that 180 people went through the cake line, and many people also signed cards to Badarak.


The singers presented Badarak (and Mary Wheeler, the friend who always accompanied her on the long drive from Cochiti Lake to Los Alamos) with an arm-load of flowers and many gifts, including an engraved Nambe plate, but the biggest surprise of all came before the concert.


Badarak always used the same reminders to her singers as concert time approached—”Look up, sing out, and smile!” When she walked into the sanctuary for a short rehearsal before the concert, most of her singers were already seated in the church pews, dressed in bright shirts in a variety of pastel colors with “Look up, sing out, and smile” printed on the back. They rose when Badarak came in, and then turned around so that she could see what the shirts said. She laughed and almost cried. Later, after the concert, they presented her and Wheeler with their own light blue shirts, printed with the same words.