Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Endowment Created in Honor of Legendary Jazz Alumnus

The Pitt and Virginia Warner Jazz Studies Endowment supports Jazz Program and students

Endowment Created in Honor of Legendary Jazz Alumnus

By Teresa Monaco

Pitt Warner devoted much of his life to San Diego State University. He was a professional drummer from the age of fourteen, and many considered him “the drummer everyone wanted to work with” (San Diego Union Tribune). He toured Canada with several bands, including Stan Kenton, before moving to California in 1955. By the time he graduated from SDSU in 1968, Warner had earned both a teaching credential and a Master’s degree. Post-graduation, Warner continued to perform with SDSU’s jazz ensembles, and supported the program financially through the purchase of drum sets and recording equipment.

A San Diego musical icon

“Pitt Warner was a San Diego musical icon who played with the very best musicians, and we are fortunate that he was able to perform with our students and ensembles,” says Bill Yeager, Director of Jazz Studies. “He was a true inspiration to our students, and was a role model who exemplified professionalism.”

Pitt taught elementary school in San Diego starting in 1969 and continued until 1991. Once retired, he and his wife Virginia became regulars at San Diego Oasis, a lifelong learning institute for seniors. Pitt was well-read, and his favorite subjects were philosophy and history.

Special devotion to SDSU

SDSU held a special place in the Warner’s hearts, as Virginia had encouraged Pitt to pursue his degree later in life. He cherished his time at SDSU. Warner made a cash gift in 2014 to name the Pitt and Virginia Warner Suite in SDSU’s Department of English and Comparative Literature, to honor his wife who had graduated from the English program in 1952. Pitt and Virginia named the School of Music and Dance in their trust, along with the College of Arts and Letters.

The Pitt and Virginia Warner Jazz Studies Endowment will provide important support for jazz student scholarships and the Jazz Studies Program. This fund will support student success and experiential opportunities such as travel, conference and music festival attendance, and exposure to guest artists. The Warner Endowment will provide vital support in perpetuity for generations of students in the SDSU Jazz Studies Program.

Performance in memory of Pitt - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Pitt played with our ensembles for nearly 35 years, and he will be dearly missed,” says Bill Yeager. “We are grateful that he is giving back to the department in perpetuity, and I know he would be proud of the work our students are doing.” The upcoming SDSU Jazz Ensemble concert with Matt Harris on November 7, 2017 will be named in honor of Pitt Warner. For more information about the performances, visit this link.

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