Warner Jepson, composer, pianist, photographer, and artist, died of cancer on July 5, 2011, in his Sonoma home in the care of his beloved children, Kiira and Matt, and dear friend and companion, Elizabeth Filmer. He was 81 years old.
Warner was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on March 24, 1930, and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a degree in composition in 1952, after which he ventured to San Francisco where he resided in Noe Valley until moving to Sonoma in 2003.
Locally, Warner will be remembered for contributions to the Sonoma music and arts communities. His compositions were performed at various events, such as the 2010 “J” concert of the “A-to-Z” composers series. In 2009, his experimental electronic music video from 1975 was featured in a one-man show, “Metamorfaces”, at the Sonoma Museum of Art. Warner also played piano at Museum openings and at Sonoma Hills Retirement Community events.
On the leading edge of San Francisco’s avant garde music scene in the 60s and 70s, Warner was one of the first composers of electronic music using a Buchla Box music synthesizer. A composer in residence from 1972-1975 at the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET), his cutting-edge video and electronic sound work was featured in a 2009 exhibit, “California Video: Artists from the 1960s to the Present”, at the Los Angeles Getty Museum, and at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.
Warner’s eclectic body of work includes music for the San Francisco Ballet, notably “Totentanz; the Dance of Death” (1971); and “N.R.A.”, a musical collage of depression-era music and radio (1972); and scores for musicals, especially “San Francisco’s Burning” (Best Bay Area Musical in 1964).
He composed many works for American Conservatory Theater productions, including “Bloodknot” by Athol Fugard (1970); scored beat poet James Broughten’s film, “The Bed” (1968), and the experimental film “Luminous Procuress” (1971). Warner wrote songs for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and created environments of sound, light and movement for a wide variety of cultural events.
Warner is also survived by six nieces and nephews, the children of his late brother, Dr. William Jepson, of Minneapolis, and late sister, Jean Jepson Page, formerly of Mill Valley and Washington, D.C.
No memorial service will be held at this time; however, a celebration of Warner’s life will be announced at a later date. For more about his life and art, go to: www.wjepson.com/warner. To write a tribute, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/warnerjepson.