Guide to the Walter Carringer (1924-2006) Papers

Collection Title: Walter Carringer (1924-2006) Papers
Dates: 1924-1994
Identification: 19/3/8
Creator: Carringer, Walter
Extent: 2 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Walter Carringer Papers document Carringer's busy and successful singing career, and consist for the most part of newspaper clippings, publicity and repertoire information, though biographical information and correspondence are also included.
Acquisition Information: Walter Carringer donated his papers to the University Archives on October 3, 1990 as Accession No. 90-155 and on July 8, 2003 as Accession No. 03-103. Additional materials were transferred to the University Archives by Don Roberts of the Music Library on November 28, 1998 as Accession No. 98-220.
Processing Information: Sarah Rose, August 2003
Separated Materials: Six inches of duplicate and extraneous materials were discarded. Six LPs (see list below) were transferred to the University Archives audio-visual collection. Two audiotapes (master copies of LPs) were discarded.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Vocalist and music professor Walter Carringer was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 5, 1924, and grew up in Murphy, North Carolina. As a young man during WWII, Carringer spent 2.5 years in the United States Army, from 1943 to 1946. It was during his time in the military that Carringer's supervisors noticed his vocal talent and arranged for him to appear in USO shows and bond selling tours. He was urged by those who heard his tenor voice to pursue a solo career. After leaving the military, Carringer did just that—enrolling at Columbia University in New York City.

Carringer spent three years at Columbia, completing a B.S. in music in 1950. During this time he was the first student to appear in solo recital at Columbia's concert hall, McMillan Theatre. His senior year, Carringer auditioned for Robert Shaw, director of the famous Shaw Chorale, and was immediately hired. Carringer was granted special permission by Columbia to participate in a three-week tour as a soloist with the Chorale. For the next three and a half years, Carringer continued to sing with Robert Shaw's group.

The demand for Carringer as a solo artist grew during his years with the Shaw Chorale, and in 1953, the time had come for him to embark on an independent solo career. The guest appearances that soon followed included New York's Carnegie Hall, and in many cities and towns throughout the country. Carringer performed in full evening recitals, chamber music and school assembly programs, sacred recitals, oratorio, symphony and “pops” orchestra concerts, radio, and television engagements. Carringer sang in every U.S. state with the exceptions of Hawaii and Nevada. He performed in New York's Town Hall more than thirty times. During his career, Carringer sang more than twelve times in Carnegie Hall. It was in one of these performances that he appeared with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne in the premier U.S. performance of Rossini's ‘Sermiramide.” He also presented the first U.S. performances of Lucas Foss' ‘A Parable of Death,” ‘Intimations of Immortality” by Finzi, ‘Lelio” by Berlioz (in Pittsburgh and New York City with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by William Steinberg), Shostakovich's ‘Song of the Forests” and Handel's ‘The Triumph of Time and Truth.” Carringer also performed every major oratorio during his career.

During his career, Carringer appeared with almost all major orchestras in the United States and Canada. He also participated in many festivals—American Opera Society (NY), Bethlehem (PA) Bach, Winter Park (FL) Bach, Brevard (NC), Cabrillo, (CA), Lewisohn Stadium (NY), Marlboro (VT), Brattleboro (VT), and Tanglewood (MA). He sung under Pablo Casals in New York and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. During the Mozart Bicentenary, he performed in over a hundred performances of the Mozart Requiem. In 1960, Carringer made his European debut in a London recital.

Carringer was the recipient, twice, of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation award and was a finalist in the national competition held by the American Federation of Music Clubs. He also received, twice, the Orpheus Award given by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for ‘significant and lasting contributions to the cause of music in America.”

In 1964, Carringer joined the music faculty at Northwestern University as an Associate Professor of Voice. After 24 years with the University, he became professor emeritus in 1987. Some years after his retirement, Carringer returned to North Carolina.

Scope and Content

The Walter Carringer Papers document Carringer's busy and successful singing career, and consist for the most part of newspaper clippings, publicity and repertoire information, though biographical information and correspondence are also included.

Biographical information includes Carringer's Honorable Discharge certificate, a Freemason pin, Boy Scout badges and biographical forms from Northwestern University.

Carringer's correspondence is mostly career-related—including letters of reference, letters from professional organizations, and inter-office correspondence from Northwestern University—with the exception of a few personal greeting cards. The form letters were sent to friends and colleagues on behalf of projects that Carringer founded and/or supported such as the Light Opera Works Company. Correspondence is arranged chronologically within the folders.

The most extensive part of this collection, the publicity folders, includes N.U. press releases (arranged chronologically) and newspaper clippings announcing concert appearances and reviewing appearances by Carringer. Many of these are undated. The majority of the newspaper clippings were photocopied. Also included here are the press kits put together by Carringer's agent. The public and professional response to Carringer's solo career is well documented in this collection.

The programs and repertoire lists in the collection show what repertoire was performed by Carringer throughout the majority of his career. The programs are from a wide range of concert appearances, including Carringer's appearance at Pablo Casals' music festival in Puerto Rico. Various other professional activities are lightly documented in the folders containing information about contests; the Bel Canto Foundation, an organization that Carringer helped found to support young singers; an article by Carringer published in the Music Journal; a ‘Singer's Primer” he compiled; and the contract from a 1957 appearance with the North Carolina Symphony. These materials are arranged chronologically.

A drop-front box contains three scrapbooks from the early years of Carringer's career and an oversized concert poster. One of the scrapbooks was disassembled because of its deteriorated condition, and the materials (programs, clippings, and photographs) were arranged in a folder.


Personal Name

Carringer, Walter



Voice teachers--Illinois--Evanston

Container List / Contents

  • Correspondence
    • General, 1937-1994Box 1, Folder 2
    • Form letters, 1958-1981Box 1, Folder 3
  • Publicity
    • N.U. Press Releases, 1964-1979Box 1, Folder 4
    • Newspaper Clippings, Circa 1950-1988Box 1, Folder 5
    • Reviews - Opera Performances, Circa 1964Box 1, Folder 6
    • Reviews - Oratorio and Orchestra Performances, Circa 1953-1965Box 1, Folder 7
    • Reviews - Solo Recitals, Circa 1954-1978Box 1, Folder 8
    • Concert posters, announcements, fliers, Circa 1958-1984Box 1, Folder 9
    • Quotes from Reviews, Circa 1960sBox 1, Folder 10
    • Repertoire Lists, 1950-1980Box 1, Folder 11
    • Programs, 1961-1990Box 1, Folder 12
    • Contests, 1948, 1954Box 1, Folder 13
    • Bel Canto Foundation, 1978,1990Box 1, Folder 14
    • Publications, 1959,1979Box 1, Folder 15
    • Contract, 1957Box 1, Folder 16
  • Phonograph Albums
    • Charles Ives Early Songs, Brewster Records, 1979Box 2, Album 1
    • Mozart Requiem Mass in d minor/Robert Shaw Chorale, RCA Victor, n.d.Box 2, Album 2
    • Poulenc Mass in G/Robert Shaw Chorale, RCA Victor, n.d.Box 2, Album 3
    • The Robert Shaw Chorale/Schubert, Bach, Brahms, RCA Victor, 1953Box 2, Album 4
    • Walter Carringer In Recital, n.d.Box 2, Album 5
    • Walter Carringer Sings For Bel Canto Foundation, n.d.Box 2, Album 6
  • Biographical, 1924-1977Box 1, Folder 1
  • Scrapbook, 1954-1955Box 2
  • Scrapbook, 1952-1953Box 2
  • Scrapbook (disassembled), 1949-1951Box 2
  • Concert poster, n.d.Box 2