Bob Bernhardt

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. He’s been a constant presence with the Louisville Orchestra for the past 37 years; as Assistant and Associate Conductor, Principal Guest Conductor with Kentucky Opera, and now for 22 years as the LO’s Principal Pops Conductor.


Bernhardt is concurrently Principal Pops Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan, and Principal Pops Conductor and Music Director Emeritus of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, where he previously spent 19 seasons as Music Director and is now in his 27th year with the company. He is also an Artist-in-Residence at Lee University in Cleveland, TN.

Previously, he was Music Director and conductor of the Tucson Symphony, and Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Rochester Philharmonic.

In the past decade, 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 twelve-year relationship with the Edmonton Symphony, conducting there several times each season, and as Festival Conductor for their Labor Day festival, Symphony Under the Sky. This year marks the 25th 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 Vail, Boston, Nashville, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Santa Barbara, Louisiana, and Rochester, made his debut with the Utah Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic, and will debut with the New Jersey Symphony this season.

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 Chattanooga, he conducted dozens of fully staged productions in a genre he adores.

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.