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Jeffrey Bernstein began creating improvised piano music at the age of eight. The piano has remained a touchstone for him throughout a career which has included theatrical music direction, composing concert music, and conducting choirs and orchestras on four continents. At the age of 17 Bernstein recorded his first solo piano album, The Parsifal Concept, and in 2012, nearly thirty years later, he released PianoJournals, an album of solo piano improvisations. A committed educator and father Bernstein serves on the staff of the Pasadena Waldorf School providing improvised piano accompaniment for all the school’s eurythmy classes.
Known for his ability to inspire musicians and audiences alike, Jeffrey Bernstein is one of Southern California's pre-eminent choral conductors, and his choirs are numbered among the finest ensembles in the region. Bernstein specializes in the refinement of the a cappella choral sound and in the performance of major choral-orchestral repertoire. During the twenty-year span of his career Bernstein has conducted over 35 major works and led choirs on over a dozen tours of three continents. He has conducted Bach’s St. John Passion with Sanford Sylvan in Boston, Haydn’s Creation with the Arad Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in Romania, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors with Suzanna Guzmán at the Pasadena Playhouse, Dvorak’s Czech Suite with the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, and over a dozen other orchestral performances at the Harvard Business School. An experienced choral singer Bernstein has sung with the Harvard Glee Club, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Musica Angelica and the Los Angeles Master Chorale under such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Roger Norrington, and Simon Rattle. Choirs under Bernstein’s direction have sung for Gustavo Dudamel, Zubin Mehta, Jorge Mester, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
In 2009 Bernstein founded the Pasadena Master Chorale and serves now as its artistic director. He is also artistic director of the Los Angeles Daiku. Previously Bernstein served as artistic director of the Hollywood Master Chorale and assistant conductor of the Pasadena Symphony and POPS. From 1997 to 2008 Bernstein was director of choral music at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he rejuvenated a century-old Glee Club tradition and taught classes in music theory, counterpoint, composing and arranging, 20th-century music, and the American musical theater. Bernstein began his career in the theater, working first as a lighting designer and subsequently serving as a musical director and conductor. He led over 25 professional productions and served as associate musical director for the national touring company of CATS.
Bernstein has composed numerous concert works, and his music has been performed across this country and in Europe, Japan and Australia. In 2012 he composed Fukushima Requiem and conducted performances of the work in Los Angeles and in Naruto, Japan. His commissions include Circumnavigation of the World for Occidental College, Chomolungma for the Governor’s School of North Carolina, Phoenix for UCLA bassoonist Melson Varsovia, Pablo Neruda in Love for The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and over a dozen a cappella choral works and arrangements. His choral arrangements are featured in the 2002 film Slackers.
Bernstein grew up in the Northeast, living in New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts before moving to California in 1996. He holds music degrees from UCLA, Yale and Harvard, where he also served as acting associate director of choral activities and assistant conductor of the world-famous Harvard Glee Club. He studied conducting with Jorge Mester and Jameson Marvin and composition with Peter Lieberson, James Yannatos, Jacob Druckman, Roger Bourland and David Lefkowitz.