Carl A. Fehr was a long-time Choir director and professor in the Department of Music at William & Mary.
Dr. Fehr earned degrees from the University of Texas including a Bachelor of Arts in German and French (1928) and a Masters in Psychology and Sociology (1930). In 1942, he received a Masters in Music and Music Education from the University of Michigan and in 1950, a Doctorate in Music and Music Education from Columbia University.
He joined the College of William & Mary faculty as an Assistant Professor of Music in 1945, becoming Associate Professor in 1951, rising to Chancellor Professor in 1971, and receiving emeritus status upon retirement in 1974. Integral to Dr. Fehr's faculty duties was his directorship of the College's Choir and Chorus. Under Dr. Fehr's professional management the choral program gained many new student members and achieved national recognition through such media programs as radio and television broadcasts and phonograph recordings. In 1970, the Choir received the George Washington Honor Medal of the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge. The Choir also appeared at such national events as the 1965 World's Fair's Virginia Day. Under Dr. Fehr's directorship Choir members selected for the Spring Tour program made a total of 27 tours over the years to such cites as New York, Boston, and Atlanta.
In addition to his faculty-related duties, Dr. Fehr also served: as music director of two outdoor summer pageants by Paul Green, The Common Glory (1947-1967) and The Founders (1957-1958, 1964); as music director of the Williamsburg Baptist Church (1945-1968); and intermittently from 1947, as an adjudicator of choral festivals and as a choral workshop director. Among Dr. Fehr's professional awards and recognitions were: the Wisdom Award of Honor of the Wisdom Society (1970), The Drumbeaters Award of the Williamsburg-James City County Chamber of Commerce (1971), and The Virginia Public Relations Award (1967). In 1966, the College endowed the Carl A. Fehr Music Scholarship and in 1975, funded an audio and visual record of choral performances, the Carl A. Fehr Choral Music Library. Dr. Fehr was listed in Who's Who in America (1968), Personalities of the South (1971) and in Outstanding Educators in America (1971).
His professional memberships included the American Choral Directors Association (charter member), the Music Educators National Conference, the Virginia Music Educators Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha and Kappa Delta Pi. Prior to joining the College of William & Mary faculty, Dr. Fehr held several teaching posts in his native Austin, Texas. He served as teacher and organist at the St. Paul's Lutheran Church School (1931-1933) and as music instructor in the Austin public schools (1933-1945). In 1933, Dr. Fehr married fellow Texan Alice Theresa Knippa, who was later employed for many years as a secretary in the College's Physics Department.
Although the Fehrs had no children, Dr. Fehr became a surrogate father figure to many of his students, who addressed him as "Pappy." Dr. Fehr set high choral performance standards, often enhancing performances with such visual effects as aesthetically arranged choral groupings. Members of the William & Mary Choir and Chorus took pride in memorized, polished performances of varied, often complex, musical programs. Their fellowship, alumni groups, reunions and special celebrations for Dr. and Mrs. Fehr attest to their esprit de corps. For some students, however, the rigors of academic achievement conflicted with the choral program's demanding rehearsal and performance schedules. As the student culture changed during the mid-1960s, heightened social awareness also elicited some criticism of such stock folk songs as those in the Stephen Foster repertoire.