Bob Bernhardt, Principal Pops Conductor

Bob Bernhardt, Principal Pops Conductor

With more than three decades of experience as a Music Director, conductor of Pops, and in the Opera pit, Louisville Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt continues to bring his unique combination of easy style, infectious enthusiasm and wonderful musicianship to the city and orchestra he loves. Now in his 32nd season with the LO, and 17th as Principal Pops Conductor, he accepted the post of Assistant Conductor in 1981 and has worked with the Louisville Orchestra in every season since.

He is concurrently Principal Pops Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, where he previously spent 19 seasons as Music Director, and now is in his 22nd year with the company. He is also Artist-in-Residence at Lee University.

In the past three seasons, Bob has made his conducting debut with the Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Louisiana Philharmonic, Las Vegas Philharmonic and Santa Barbara Symphony, all of which were rewarded with return engagements. He has a continuing eight-year relationship with the Edmonton Symphony conducting there several times each season, and has returned as guest conductor with the Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Tucson Symphony and the Boston Pops. With the latter, he has been a frequent guest for twenty one years, making his debut there in 1992 at the invitation of John Williams.

Last season, he made his conducting debut with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Florida Orchestra, and returned to the podiums of Dallas (in Vail, CO), Boston, Detroit, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Santa Barbara, Louisiana and Rochester.

His professional opera career began with the Birmingham Opera in 1979, two years before he joined the Louisville Orchestra. He worked with Kentucky Opera for 18 consecutive seasons including six as its Principal Guest Conductor. With his own company in Chattanooga, he has conducted dozens of fully staged productions in a genre he adores. He has also been a frequent guest of the Nashville Opera.

Born in Rochester, New York, he holds a Masters degree from the University of Southern California’s School of Music where he studied with Daniel Lewis. He is also a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Union College in Schenectady, New York where he was an Academic All-American baseball player. (While not all the research is in, Bernhardt believes that he is the only conductor in the history of music to be invited to Spring Training with the Kansas City Royals. After four days, they suggested to him a life in music.)

His two children, Alex and Charlotte, live in Seattle. He and his wife, Nora, live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.