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The many talented faces of Fred Warner

2020 DFOM graduate Fred Warner embraces beginnings, endings, transitions, jazz, and classics

May 29, 2020 — 

NOTE: We in the Desautels Faculty of Music are incredibly proud of our students. While COVID-19 is sidelining in-person commencement ceremonies around the globe, we want to find alternate ways to celebrate our graduates and give them the recognition due to them. Until we can gather together to properly applaud the years of study and practice that have led to this milestone, please join us in congratulating our 2020 Desautels Faculty of Music graduates.


Today we celebrate Fred Warner!

Fred Warner doesn’t shy away from a musical challenge.

The 2020 DFOM graduate (Bachelor of Music, in the general stream) has performed in multiple ensembles throughout his time in the faculty. The music he has studied for those ensembles has ranged from the ancient, in Collegium Musicum, to the modern, in small jazz ensembles. The trumpet player has played as a soloist, in a brass quintet, and as a member of the full Wind Ensemble. The common thread in all of those performances is his clear, skilled trumpet playing.

When he decided to try something new in his last year in the DFOM, joining a small jazz ensemble to expand his repertoire of musical forms, his very first public performance with his ensemble, which played only a month into the fall term, featured an absolutely jaw-dropping rendition of jazz legend Roy Hargrove’s “Strasbourg St. Denis.”

The song is not for the faint-of-heart. Its incredibly complex, fast-paced trumpet melody, coupled with its need for both precision and improvisation makes the piece difficult to master. Warner played it with the same unbothered, humble, and cool attitude for which Hargrove was famous.

The group then followed up that song with the equally intricate and difficult “Take 5,” by Paul Desmond, with Warner playing the part scored for Desmond’s saxophone on trumpet, instead.

“Fred is one of the most talented and intelligent trumpet students I’ve ever had,” says his major practical study instructor, professor of trumpet Richard Gillis.

“He would consistently prepare material that would take others much longer to learn. Challenging rhythms, unusual intervals/keys or other musical issues didn’t pose major problems for him,” says Gillis.

“Teaching Fred was a pleasure… I’m not sure I taught him more than maybe guided him in his learning. After each of our sessions he would say “thanks for the lesson”, which demonstrates his approach to life. I’m grateful that Fred chose to study at the U of M, and I hope that I have opportunity to help him in the future,” he adds.

Director of Bands Jacquie Dawson concurs.

“Fred Warner is a consummate learner and professional,” she says.

“Throughout his degree he conducted himself with humility, gratitude, curiosity and diligence. Fred garnered the respect and admiration of his peers and professors and was always a joy to work with. He was a significant contributor to the life of the faculty and the ensembles in which he participated. Congratulations on your many achievements Fred – you will be missed!”


Fred Warner is two-faced….but in a good way!

In his small jazz ensemble’s second performance, in December 2019, Warner debuted an original composition he’d written, “Janus,” the inspiration for which came from classical music, and also classical literature, with Janus being the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, always depicted in art as having two faces.

“I actually got a fragment of a melody in my head from a Vaughn Williams symphony, which sort of evolved the more I played it over in my head,” says Warner.

“I basically had the whole melody by the time I wrote it down,” he adds, describing the piece as “pensive, yet with a sense of urgency and drive.”


Music, always

Warner, from Winnipeg, has played music all of his life, beginning with violin at 3, trumpet at 12, and bass at 15. He has said that music has “always felt like the only thing to do,” and he does it exceptionally well.

Warner, a recipient of the William “Bill” Kirk Scholarship in Music, has been an important member of the University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble, and served as the trumpet section leader during his time in the faculty. During a Wind Ensemble tour in Edmonton, Warner served as a soloist, marking one of his most cherished moments in the faculty. His favourite piece learned and performed in the faculty also came from a Wind Ensemble performance: “Pictures at an Exhibition,” by Modest Mussorgsky.

As for what the next part of his life’s journey looks like after graduation, Warner is looking forward to touring with bands, and eventually hopes to become a worship leader! We hope that whatever ministry he undertakes, Psalm 100 will be one of the passages by which he is guided. (“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”)


Advice for incoming DFOM students

Warner’s advice for incoming students is this:

“University is much easier when you do a little bit of work each day, rather than having to do a lot of work before a deadline,” he says.

“Start assignments even if they’re not due for a long time; you’ll thank yourself later!”


Fred would like to thank the following people for their support throughout his time in the faculty:

“Jacquie Dawson, for her strong direction for everyone in Wind Ensemble. Richard Gillis, for his work as my trumpet teacher and head of the Brass Department.”

Congratulations, Fred! We are incredibly proud of you! With the melody of Janus in your head, we hope that all of your beginnings, endings, transitions and codas always bring positive results!

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One comment on “The many talented faces of Fred Warner

  1. Margaret and David Warner

    Congratulations, Fred. You have taken full advantage of studying music at the university level. From the description that was given, you have acquired a great deal of skill and flexibility in being an important member of different ensembles. God’s richest blessings to you as you pursue more opportunities in your musical career.

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