Then and Now: Bob Bernhardt '73

Publication Date

Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Fall 2014


  • From Rochester, N.Y., Brighton High School (1969)
  • Union B.A. in Fine Arts
  • Baseball, Soccer, Glee Club, Coffee House singer, College-Community Orchestra Librarian and Stage Manager, Resident Adviser
  • Bailey Prize, ECAC Medal, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, Academic All-American Baseball Player (1973), Nott Medal (1995)
  • Master’s in music from the University of Southern California School of Music


  • Principal Pops Conductor, the Louisville Orchestra and the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera; and artist-in-residence, Lee University. Has been the music director of the Tucson and Amarillo symphonies; principal conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic; artistic director of Lake Placid Sinfonietta; principal guest conductor of Kentucky Opera; frequent guest conductor with Boston Pops (22 years); and guest conductor throughout North America including symphonies of Baltimore, Detroit, Edmonton, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Rochester, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
  • Hobbies include gym, golf, collecting baseball cards, teaching continuing education courses in music.
  • Among distinctions, perhaps the only symphony conductor to go to spring training with the Kansas City Royals (In 1974, they suggested a life in music, he said.)
  • Lives in Signal Mountain, Tenn., with wife, Nora. Two children, Alex and Charlotte, who both live and work in Seattle, and two grandchildren.
  • About Union: “Union was the perfect place for a relatively rudderless student-athlete like myself. I am a proud product of the exceptional liberal arts education I received there, one that permitted and encouraged me to try things, and helped me find my way.”