Robert Bernhardt


Since his debut in 2006, when he first fell in love with the ESO and the City of Edmonton, Bob Bernhardt has been a popular and welcomed guest several times each season. Whether for Classics, Pops, Specials or Symphony Under the Sky, he delights in his work with the orchestra, and in entertaining its audiences.

His 40-plus years of experience – as a Music Director, in the opera pit, and in Pops – gives him a unique perspective on all of his work. As a musical omnivore, he has rarely met any music he doesn’t love.

In the 2021-22 season, Bob celebrated a remarkable milestone: his 40th anniversary with the Louisville Orchestra, where he continues as Principal Pops Conductor. He is concurrently Principal Pops Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony (his 10th year) and Music Director Emeritus of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (his 31st year).

Formerly, he was Principal Conductor/Artistic Director of the Rochester Philharmonic, Music Director and Conductor of the Tucson Symphony, Music Director and Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Principal Guest Conductor of Kentucky Opera, Music Director and Conductor of the Amarillo Symphony, and Artistic Director of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta.

He made his debut with the Boston Pops in 1992 at John Williams’ invitation and has returned there often. He’s appeared frequently as a guest conductor with the Baltimore Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and many others.

He has worked with scores of stars in the musical universe, from Kelli O’Hara to Brian Stokes Mitchell; from the B-52s and Ben Folds to Wynonna and Ricky Skaggs; from Renee Fleming to Emanuel Ax; from Randy Newman and Jason Alexander to Ne-Yo!

A lover of opera, he conducted productions with Kentucky Opera for 18 consecutive seasons, and for 19 seasons with his own company in Chattanooga, as well as many guest conducting engagements with the Nashville Opera.

He received his Masters degree with Honors from the University of Southern California’s School of Music, studying primarily with Daniel Lewis. He received his BA-Fine Arts degree from Union College in Schenectady, NY, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa cum laude, an Academic All-American Baseball Player, and was captain of the soccer team. He lives with his wife, Nora, in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.