An outstanding Latin American conductor, composer, and teacher, Sergio Bernal is the Director of Orchestral Studies and a Professor of Music at Utah State University. His conducting activity has earned him international recognition as a "tasteful technician with a more than technical gift for connecting with a score’s essence." His guest engagements include appearances with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela, the Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Opera of México, the Orquesta Filarmónica de Montevideo, the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, the Bogotá Philharmonic, the Torun Chamber Orchestra and Szczecin Opera of Poland, the W.A. Mozart Philharmonic of Rumania, the Eugene and New Mexico Symphonies, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. He conducted the 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017 international Via dei Concerti Festival Orchestra and Choir in concert tours throughout Italy, France, and Spain.
A strong believer in the power of music as a catalyst for social change, Mr. Bernal worked for a decade at El Sistema in Venezuela, the country’s groundbreaking system of youth orchestras. There he served as music director of the Mérida Symphony Orchestra, was a permanent guest conductor and artistic advisor of orchestras nationwide, conducted in a South American tour of the Orquesta de Juventudes de los Países Andinos, and developed an orchestral conducting instructional video to be used by El Sistema in Venezuela and other Latin American countries.
Since his arrival to Utah State University in 2001, Sergio Bernal has taken the Utah State University Symphony Orchestra to important levels of achievement. His innovative programming has attracted national attention in projects such as the 2010 fully staged production with the Utah State Theatre of the Shakespeare/Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a production subsequently emulated by other theatre companies and symphony orchestras using Mr. Bernal’s performance edition.
As a composer, Mr. Bernal explores the popular and folk idioms from Ibero America and likes to do so in works for soloist and orchestra. His two concerti are written for prominent Venezuelan soloists and have received performances in the US, Argentina, and Venezuela. They are Arcano, dedicated to classical and folk violinist Eddy Marcano, and Andares, a trumpet concerto dedicated to the 2006 Maurice André Competition winner Francisco “Pacho” Flores.
A native Colombian, Bernal studied on a full scholarship and stipend with Lorin Maazel, Günther Herbig, Erich Leinsdorf, and Eleazar De Carvalho in the Yale University/Affiliate Artists Conducting Program. He holds conducting degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan, a PhD in Composition from the University of Utah, and a B.A. in Music from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College of CUNY. He received additional conducting training at the Aspen Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center. In 1986, he apprenticed with the late Maestro Eduardo Mata at the Dallas Symphony and subsequently worked as Mr. Mata’s assistant in recording projects of the Ibero American symphonic repertoire.
Sergio Bernal makes his home in the beautiful Cache Valley, UT with his wife Marina and his daughter Gabriela.