Jean Bernard Cerin is a multifaceted artist and scholar who produces and performs in projects ranging from film, recital, oratorio, traditional storytelling, opera and folk music. Last season, he directed and starred in the documentary Lisette (2022), which made its premier at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in California. His crossover piano-vocal duo, Kuwento Mizik released its freshman album “Lua Nova” in August 2022. This program of folk songs and pop tunes from six countries around the world celebrates the interweaving communities and musical cultures that have shaped the duo’s ongoing collaboration.
Praised for his “burnished tone and focused phrasing,” (Chestnut Hill Local) Jean Bernard performs extensively 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. This season, he returns to Philadelphia to perform Bach’s Peasant Cantata with Choral Arts Philadelphia and soprano Julianne Baird. He also makes his Cleveland debut in a Bach inspired Advent program with Les Delices.
Jean Bernard was awarded the 2022 Musical Fund Society Career Advancement Award in Philadelphia including a solo debut recital with the Philadelphia Chamber Music society in 2023. In 2021, he won “Best Performance of a Folk Song” in the Canto Latino Cyber challenge. In 2018, he was awarded the Gerard Souzay Prize for best performance of a French Mélodie at the Joy in Singing International Song Competition. Since last season, Jean Bernard has been presenting a program that centers the oldest song in Haitian Creole, “Lisette quitté la plaine” often in conjunction with his documentary Lisette (2022). This season, he will present this program at Cornell University, Bucknell University, Princeton University, the Elm City Consort in New Haven, and the GEMAS early music series in New York City.
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 Detroit Institute of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This season, they will tour the Lua Nova music program at venues in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan.
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, and Opera Philadelphia among others. This season, he makes his debut with Opera Ithaca and Raylynmor opera singing John Styx in a co-production of Orpheus in the Underworld. Past roles include Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Papageno as well as Benjamin Britten’s Tarquinius from The Rape of Lucretia.
As a researcher, Jean Bernard is interested in Haitian classical music and music of the African diaspora. He launched the Lisette Project in 2021, which is a digital humanities initiative focused on early Haitian classical music beginning with the oldest song in Haitian Creole, Lisette quitté la plaine. He serves as an assistant editor of the African Diaspora Music Project, collecting and cataloguing vocal music from outside of the United States. This season, he is co-writing and starring in an early music educational video series produced by Les Délices Artist Educators for children 8-13. He is also guest curating a digital salon episode on their award winning SalonEra program about his research on Haitian classical music with musicologists Maria Ryan from Florida State University and Henry Stoll from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Cerin serves as an assistant professor in the School of Music Theater and Dance at Ithaca College where he teaches singers in the Vocal Performance, Music Education, Recording Studio Technology, Jazz, and Musical Theater programs. Prior to Ithaca college, he served for 6 years on faculty at Lincoln University in southern Pennsylvania. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan, holds a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory in Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.