April 24, 2024 I Obituary

Long-Time Hal Leonard VP Passes Away

Rick Walters

Hal Leonard has announced Rick Walters, vice president of classical and vocal publications has passed away. He was 68.

Walters was a key figure at Hal Leonard for 39 years. He began his journey as a keyboard editor and ascended to the role of vice president of classical and vocal publications. In 2011, he pioneered the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, the industry’s first all-YouTube contest for vocal students. This initiative earned widespread respect and propelled numerous students into successful singing careers. Walters’ dedication was evident as he personally reviewed tens of thousands of videos until the competition concluded with his retirement in 2023. Even after retiring, he continued to make a difference in the music community, particularly with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, where he served on the board and mentored budding composition students.

“Rick’s impact on the world of classical and vocal music publishing was immense,” said Larry Morton, Hal Leonard chairman. “His unwavering passion and commitment to preserving and presenting repertoire for students and their teachers have left an indelible mark. No vocal competition or audition happens without singers using materials Rick helped create with our editorial teams. He closely worked with some of the greatest musical theater composers of all time, including his close, personal relationship with the late Broadway icon, Stephen Sondheim.”


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