University Choir Conductor by Day, Naples Philharmonic Chorus Director by Night

Bower’s Newest Adjunct Faculty Member has Devoted His Life to Music


Jessica Piland

Warner poses on stage in the U. Tobe Recital Hall.

Eddie Stewart, Staff Writer

Jeremy Warner, the newest faculty addition to the Bower School of Music, has lived his whole life in tune with his greatest passion– music. 

Growing up in Jackson, Tenn., the self-proclaimed ‘home of Rockabilly music’ as the son of two casual musicians, Warner always had music at his fingertips. 

Starting out at age five in church choir, he became interested in choral music as a career around 10-years-old when his grandmother gifted him a Top 10 cassette tape including a choir performance of “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven. 

“Choir immediately resonated with me in a way I can’t truly explain,” Warner said.

In addition to Warner’s roots, Jackson is the geographical midpoint between Memphis and Nashville. Both cities are known primarily for their music scenes– Nashville being known as the country music capital of the world. Following a developing interest in classical music, Warner frequently traveled between cities to see the Nashville Symphony and Memphis Symphony.

Despite growing up and getting his undergraduate degree in Jackson, when asked where he’s from, Warner usually replies with Memphis because he spent most of his professional life conducting and teaching there. 

After getting his Master of Music in choral conducting at the University of Memphis, Warner went on to a variety of choral positions, from conducting the Memphis Men’s Chorale and working at his alma mater as a graduate student, to founding the Memphis Women’s Chorale and Memphis ChoralArts. 

Frequently taking trips across the U.S. and beyond, Warner spent weeks and months conducting and preparing choirs for performances. After spending a semester abroad in Austria at the Mozarteum while in school, Warner felt called back abroad to Stuttgart, Germany to conduct. He traveled frequently between Germany and the U.S., and found himself on one such trip when COVID-19 travel restrictions hit. 

After moving back to Germany, Warner quickly decided that it was time to go stateside once again to Tenn. in December 2020. He moved that summer to Naples, a place he admits he never heard of before 2021.

Warner poses outside the Bower School of Music. (Jessica Piland)

“I decided I would work on my dissertation, and a friend of mine down here said ‘Well, if you can write it in Tennessee in the woods, why can’t you write it on the beach?’ I said, ‘Well okay, I’ll write it on the beach, that sounds good.’ So, I visited, and fell in love with Southwest Florida,” Warner said.

A runner when not singing or conducting, Warner particularly enjoys the greenways that populate the area around his Naples home. But that’s when he gets the chance, currently working both at Artis-Naples as the Naples Philharmonic Chorus director and FGCU as the conductor of the University Choir. 

Despite being quite busy, Warner finds plenty of purpose in both jobs. He describes Artis-Naples as a wonderful place to work and a hub for art in Southwest Florida, and has nothing but positive things to say about working with the students of FGCU, as new to the university as he is.

“There is something very unique about being here, and working with very enthusiastic students. They really want to do the music well, and they’re very attentive,” Warner said. “They’re not just music majors, they’re across all walks of life, different majors across campus. They’re a truly talented group.”

Though perhaps Warner would see the bright side in any choir, with his fascination with the art of song.

“There’s something very unique about singing, it’s the only instrument we’re really born with,” he said. “There’s something truly intimate about singing with others, something very open and almost vulnerable.”

And with that vulnerability comes strength in numbers. For those who struggle with feeling placeless or experience feelings of imposter syndrome, singing in a choir can usher in a sense of belonging. 

“Choir singers don’t have to be the greatest at whatever it is, they just have to be good,” he said. “They just have to try hard and work hard. It takes a community to make that happen.”

Warner believes choir can have a positive impact on anyone’s life, notably his own. Upon reflecting on his career, Warner said that he is truly content and fulfilled doing what he loves.

“It may sound cliché or cheesy, but I’ve found it’s so important to love what you do. No amount of money – no views of the ocean, even, can make up for doing something that you don’t enjoy. I believe in the power of passion and the power of doing something that sparks, because you’ll always be happy. It’s so rewarding for me to contribute. I know that I’m making a difference.”

Warner urges anyone interested in music to view upcoming events on the Bower School of Music webpage. The University Choir has a concert on April 16, at the First Presbyterian Church of Bonita Springs.