Published: Feb. 18, 2015

MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program welcomes Peter Bernstein

Contact(s): Kathleen Adams College of Music office: (517) 353-9958

The final jazz artist in residence for the 2014-15 academic year visits the MSU College of Music for a weeklong residency in March made possible by a $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union.

Jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein will be at MSU March 2-8 through the MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence program. While in Michigan, Bernstein will instruct, perform and tour with MSU's Jazz Orchestra I during a weeklong residency packed with workshops, master classes and concerts. He and the top MSU jazz ensemble will also take to the road to visit and perform at music and jazz programs at high schools in Royal Oak, Detroit, Holland and Spring Lake.

As a jazz guitarist, Bernstein has participated in more than 80 recordings and numerous performances with musicians from all generations. As a leader, he has released nine albums and a DVD. While attending the New School, a liberal arts university in New York City, he met legendary guitarist Jim Hall, who noted that Bernstein “ the most impressive guitarist I’ve heard.” Bernstein was a regular member of Lou Donaldson’s group throughout the 1990s.

“Some people just have it,” Donaldson said. “…Most of the time you have to teach someone what to do, but Peter knows it all.”

Bernstein’s recent release, Solo Guitar – Live at Smalls, is an intimate recording that is said to remind one of sitting in the front row at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City.

“I’ve known Peter for a long time,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU jazz studies. “He is the most humble and giving person I know. He is a wonderful mentor to students and was one of Randy Napoleon’s teachers in New York.”

Napoleon, the newest addition to the MSU Professors of Jazz and assistant professor of jazz guitar, was instrumental in adding Bernstein to the impressive roster of MSUFCU Jazz Artists in Residence.

“Peter Bernstein is the most universally respected and admired jazz guitarist of his generation,” says Napoleon. “In his playing, we hear echoes of the celebrated guitarists of the past, with an unmistakable and fresh perspective. He has honed his playing to the essential core of the music; each note is treated with extreme love and importance. We are excited to live with his music for a week, and to absorb a small piece of his taste and brilliance.”

Bernstein will perform with Jazz Orchestra I (directed by Whitaker) at 8 p.m. on March 6 at the Fairchild Theatre in the MSU Auditorium. The concert will also include performances of Jazz Orchestras II and III. General admission tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and are available from the College of Music box office—in person at the Music Building, Room 102, 333 W. Circle Drive or over the phone at (517) 353-5340—online at or at the door one hour before the show. Admission is free to students with ID and those under 18 years of age.

Schedule: Jazz Artist in Residence Peter Bernstein

  • 6 p.m., March 2. MSUFCU Headquarters, 3777 West Road, East Lansing, MI. Blue Monday; Jazz Forum, 8 p.m., Music Practice Building, Room 103
  • 4 p.m., March 3. Music Building, Room 120. Working with and rehearsing with MSU College of Music students.
  • 4:00-6:00 p.m., March 4. Location TBA. Master Class; Combos, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Hart Recital Hall, Music Building
  • 9:30-11:15 a.m., March 5. 3200 E. Lafayette Street, Detroit, MI. School visits, workshop and performance, King High School. Contact: Ronald Perkins, 313-494-7373, x 9095; and Royal Oak High School, 1500 Lexington Blvd, Royal Oak, MI, 1:30-8:30 p.m. Contact: David Jensen, 248-435-8500, x1052
  • March 6. Fairchild Theatre, 150 Auditorium Road. Performance with MSU Jazz Orchestra I, II, III.
  • 3:30-8:30 p.m., March 7. Spring Lake High School, 16140 148th Ave, Spring Lake, MI. School visit, workshop, and performance. Contact Mike Truszkowski, 616-846-5502
  • 12:30-5:30 p.m., March 8. Black River High School, 491 Columbia Ave, Holland, MI. School visit, workshop, and performance. Contact Jon Montgomery, 616-355-0055