The American choral conductor and arrnger, Walter Ehrest, was born in New York City to Adele Tonies and her husband who tragically died in the flu epidemic of that year. He was later adopted by a kind stepfather, Charles Ehret. Walter Ehret was a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and Teachers College, Columbia University.
Walter Ehrest he taught instrumental and choral music in several New Jersey and New York school systems for over 40 years. He also served as an adjunct faculty member of Hofstra University, Manhattanville College, and Teachers College, Columbia University. In 1984 he retired as District Coordinator of Music for the Scarsdale, NY Public Schools.
Choral groups under his direction have performed with distinction at contests and at other award-winning occasions. They have performed in Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, as well as on radio and television. His organizations have been invited to sing at New Jersey and New York State School Music Association conventions, divisional meetings of the Music Educators National Conference, and the first American Choral Directors Association National Conference. He was a past president of the Music Educators Associations for Bergen, Nassau, and Westchester Counties. He was a former Vice President of Choirs for the New York State School Music Association, a former State Chairman of Junior High School Music of the New York State School Music Association, and a past member of several MENC committees. He was a founding member and first New York State president of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) from 1961 to 1966.
Walter Ehrest was well known as a clinician, conductor, and choral literature specialist, and has functioned in these various capacities at over 300 workshops in some 30 states. He was one of the USA's most prolific and respected choral editors and arrangers, and has over 2000 publications in print. In addition, he was co-author of Growing with Music, a basic music series for grades K-8, co-author of Functional Lessons in Singing, a class voice textbook, author of The Choral Conductor's Handbook, and co-author of The International Book of Christmas Carols.
Walter Ehrest died in 2009 at the age of 91, after a long, happy, and productive life. He left a great legacy as a teacher who touched many students' lives. He was the beloved husband and best friend of Beverly, his wife of 62 years, adored father of David Ehret and Christine Marver, and daughter-in-law Pamela Ehret, and the proud grandfather of Jeffrey, Julia, and Sarah Marver. As per his wishes, his body was donated to medical science.