Bob Bernhardt

Bob Bernhardt continues to bring his unique combination of easy style, infectious enthusiasm and wonderful musicianship to the city and orchestra he loves. He’s been a constant presence with the Louisville Orchestra for the past 43 years: as Assistant and Associate Conductor, Principal Guest Conductor with Kentucky Opera, and now for 27 years as the LO’s Principal Pops Conductor.


Bernhardt is concurrently in his 10th season as Pops Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan, and Music Director Emeritus of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, where he previously spent 19 seasons as Music Director and is now in his 31st year with the company.

Previously, he was Music Director and conductor of the Tucson Symphony,  Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Rochester Philharmonic, Music Director of the Amarillo Symphony, and Artistic Director of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. He was also an Artist-in-Residence at Lee University in Cleveland, TN.

In the past decade or so, Bob has made his conducting debut with the Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Louisiana Philharmonic, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Florida Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony and Santa Barbara Symphony, all of which were rewarded with return engagements.

He has a continuing seventeen-year relationship with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, conducting there several times each season, and as Festival Conductor for their Labor Day festival, Symphony Under the Sky. This year marks the 31st anniversary of his debut with the Boston Pops where he is a frequent guest, being first invited there in 1992 by John Williams.

Recently, he returned to the podiums in Boston, Nashville, Detroit, Edmonton, Vail, Florida, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Santa Barbara, Louisiana, Portland ME, and Rochester, and made his debut with the Utah Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, and the New Jersey Symphony..

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. In over 25 years with his own opera company in Chattanooga, he conducted dozens of fully staged productions in a genre he adores.

Born in Rochester, New York, he holds a Masters degree (Honors) 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 played four years of varsity soccer and baseball. In his senior year, he was captain of the soccer team, and was selected 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 the Seattle area. He and his wife, Nora, live on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, TN.