Jean Bernard Cerin
Jean Bernard Cerin is a multifaceted artist and scholar who produces and performs in projects ranging from film, recital, oratorio, opera and folk music. Praised for his “burnished tone and focused phrasing,” (Chestnut Hill Local) Jean Bernard performs extensively as a baritone with leading early music ensembles across the United States including Philadelphia-based Choral Arts, Piffaro Renaissance Wind Ensemble, Tempesta di Mare Baroque Orchestra, Night Music, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s Gamut Bach Ensemble, Louisville’s Bourbon Baroque, Classical Uncorked in Seattle, and American Bach Soloists in San Francisco. Recent highlights include Bach’s Peasant Cantata with soprano Julian Baird and the Philadelphia Bach Collegium in Philadelphia and a staged performance of Bach’s Coffee Cantata with Classical Uncorked in Seattle.
On the operatic stage, Jean Bernard has portrayed villains, buffoons, and heroes with the Aspen Opera Theater Center, Brevard’s Janiec Opera Company, Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Ithaca, and the Raylynmor Opera Company in New Hampshire among others. This season, he returns to Opera Ithaca in a production of Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg. He also makes his company debut with Opera Lafayette in a modern premier of Jean-Joseph Mouret’s Les Fetes de Thalie at the Kennedy Center in the spring of 2024. Favorite roles include Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Papageno as well as Benjamin Britten’s Tarquinius from The Rape of Lucretia.
Song recitals sit at the heart of Jean Bernard’s performance output each season with Kuwento Mizik, the Lisette Project, and collaborators throughout the United States. His repertoire is exceptionally vast ranging from the standard romantic and early twentieth Western Classical music literature to collaborations with living composers and explorations outside of the western cannon. In recent seasons, Jean Bernard premiered songs by Melissa Dunphy ("Eat the Rich"), Gilda Lyons ("El Zopilote"), and John Conohan ("Shenandoah" & "Big Rock Candy Mountains"), Don Saint Pierre ("Rumi Songs"), and Mark Rimple ("Politic Bodies"). Recital engagements this season include “A Transatlantic Liederabend" with pianist Xak Bjerken at Cornell, a program of Italian songs with LyricFest in Philadelphia, and a Lieder program with pianist Sezi Seskir at Bucknell University, among others.
Jean Bernard and pianist Veena Kulkarni-Rankin founded Kuwento Mizik (formerly Duo 1717) in 2014 as a love letter to their broad cultural heritage. The duo combines traditional classical music repertoire with folk music, popular music, and their original musical adaptations of traditional folktales based on the Haitian kont. The duo won Best Performance of a Folk Song at the 2021 Canto Latino Cyber Challenge. They have performed their stories and music at venues all over the country including the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, the Detroit Institute of Art, the University of Delaware, The University of Michigan, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art among many others. Last season, the group released their freshman album, Lua Nova. This season they make their Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Debut in a program of art songs, piano music, and their original adaptation of the Haitian folktale, Tezen.
Jean Bernard founded the Lisette Project in 2021, which is a research and performance platform focusing on early Haitian classical music beginning with the oldest song in Haitian Creole, Lisette quitté la plaine. In 2022, they premiered their first documentary, Lisette (2022), at the Berkeley Early Music Festival. Last season, Jean Bernard toured the United States screening the film and performing a related lecture-recital at Princeton University, Bucknell University, Yale University, Cornell University, Ithaca College, the Siegel Music Museum, and the Gotham Early Music of the Americas series in NYC. Jean Bernard guest-curated episodes featuring the Lisette Project’s research on the award winning SalonEra web docuseries in 2021 and 2023. This season, he brings the lecture recital to the American Musicological Society Conference in Denver and to Philadelphia hosted by the Tempesta Di Mare Baroque Orchestra.
In 2022, Jean Bernard was awarded the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society’s Career Advancement Award in recognition of his varied and excellent work. In 2018, he was awarded the Gerard Souzay Prize for best performance of a French Mélodie at the Joy in Singing International Song Competition.
Jean Bernard serves as an assistant professor and director of the vocal program in the Department of Music at Cornell University. Prior to Cornell, he served on faculty at Ithaca College and Lincoln University. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan, a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory in Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.