- MA in Music, Washington State Univ
- BM, Berklee College of Music
Gary Wittner began playing the guitar at age nine. As a youth he had a deep affinity for the blues and was drawn to the music of Rural Blues artists such as Lightning Hopkins and Big Bill Broonzy. In college, Gary's music became the major focus of his life, and when he heard the music of Thelonious Monk it was love at first sound. He enrolled at the Berklee College of Music where he began studying and transcribing Monk's music in earnest.
Graduating in 1981, Gary moved to Colorado where he began performing "all-Monk" concerts. After three years as a freelance guitarist, Gary received a graduate assistantship in the Master's Degree program at Washington State University, where he completed his thesis (a study of Monk's compositional style) in 1986. From Washington, Gary was offered a faculty position at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he taught until 1997, including one year as the Music Department Coordinator. He received the University's Distinguished Scholar Award in 1997. Since 1997, Gary has been on the faculty of the University of S. Maine School of Music. As an educator, he has taught/developed courses in Jazz History, Rock and Roll History, American Music, Theory/Ear Training, Music Business, Jazz Ensembles, and Applied Guitar.
Outside of the university, Gary has been an active performer whose career has spanned over 3 decades and 5 continents worldwide. He developed a presentation on the music/life of Thelonious Monk which he has performed at clubs and universities throughout the USA and in Canada, Poland, Russia, England, Austria, Ecuador, S. Africa and France. Additionally, Gary has been chosen 3 times to represent the USA - twice as Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador and once as a Fulbright Grant recipient. He has been a featured artist in concerts with Reggie Workman, Richard Davis, Eddie Gomez, Clark Terry, Art Lande, Paul McCandless, Peter Ind, and James Emery; and has performed for the Monk family and been interviewed on the radio with Thelonious Monk, Jr. Gary's first book "Thelonious Monk for Guitar" , published by the Hal Leonard Corp. was released internationally in 1999. Gary has also developed programs that he presents for K-12 student populations throughout the country.
Gary has released 5 CDs as leader. He is joined by tuba legend Howard Johnson on 2 of them which include compositions by Thelonious Monk, Wittner's originals and solo guitar arrangements of Blues/Folk Americana. Gary maintains a busy schedule performing solo concerts/workshops and working with several different groups performing Jazz and Latin music.