Carlton E. Gamer

Distinguished Alumni

Class of 1946



Carlton Gamer’s music has been featured in concert halls throughout the United States, including such prestigious venues as New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Among its presenters have been the International Society of Contemporary Music, the Society of Composers, the Current and Modern Consort, and the College Music Society.


His works have been heard at the San Diego International Computer Music Conference, WNYC Festival of American Music, Grand Teton Music Festival, Southwestern Composers Conference, Colorado Contemporary Music Festival and Colorado College Summer Music Festival.


Mr. Gamer’s music has been widely performed abroad as well, in Sydney, Guadalajara, Oxford, Salzburg, Rome, and Warsaw


Mr. Gamer was born in Chicago, and then followed his teacher-father to Urbana and the University of Illinois.  At the age of eight, he began to study piano and composition with Tanja and Hubert Kessler.  He attended U-High in Normal from 1942 to 1946, when he graduated as valedictorian.  He later acquired music degrees from Northwestern University and Boston University.


In New York he founded a new-music group, The Seven, and was the music director for Ilka Suarez and Company.


He joined the music faculty at  Colorado College in 1954.  For two years he served as accompanist for Hanya Holm in her summer dance workshops at the college.  He retired from that position to study composition with the eminent composer Roger Sessions and to join the Princeton Seminars in Advanced Musical Studies.


During leaves from  Colorado College, Mr. Gamer enjoyed various fellowships and teaching positions elsewhere.  He was an Asia Society Fellow at The University of California and in Kyoto, Japan in 1962-3, a Senior Fellow of the Council of Humanities at Princeton University in 1976, and a MacDowell Colony Fellow in the same year.  He taught at Princeton University in 1974, 1976, and 1981, at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies in 1979, and at The University of Michigan in 1982.  He retired from full-time teaching in 1994.


Mr. Gamer is a music theorist as well as a composer.  He has published widely in that field in The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Journal of Music Theory, The Musical Quarterly, and Perspectives of New Music.  An article on “Microtones and Projective Planes”, which he wrote with the mathematician Robin Wilson, was published in Music and Mathematics (Oxford University Press, 2003).


His biographical record has been included in the 2006 edition of Who’s Who in America.  Recordings of his works have been issued on Capstone, Crystal and MMC labels.  Arkhe, performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic, is available on MMC.


Mr. Gamer’s musical talents and successes have brought him international recognition.  For his outstanding contributions to his profession, he will join the select group of University High School Distinguished Alumni.