For the last year Air-Edel’s Jean-Michel Bernard has been performing across the globe, most recently with a series of concerts in LA. We caught up with him to chat about becoming a Steinway artist, his time in LA , and what else is in the pipeline for later this year.
Becoming a Steinway Artist…
Last October, I opened the doors of the brand new Steinway Hall in Paris on the “très chic” Boulevard Saint Germain and had a great meeting with Mr. Caseau, the managing director.
We spoke about Steinway Artists and I pointed out that they had the best classical and jazz pianists on their roster but few who played both, bridging the gap between the two genres. Then we discussed the fact that I played across all genres, from film scores, classical and jazz. In January, he proposed that I organise a concert at Steinway which would coincide with the release of my album dedicated to Lalo Schifrin.
Shortly before the concert, encouraged by Mr. Caseau and Lalo Schifrin, a Steinway Artist himself, I sent my application to the head office in Hamburg. It can take up to a year to receive a response but to my surprise, after a 2 month wait, the answer was positive! It is a dream come true for me, a tremendous honour, and I am looking forward to upcoming and future performances where I can share good music accompanied by a finely handcrafted instrument with the highest quality of sound.
I went to Los Angeles last year to record the piano duets with Lalo Schifrin for my album ‘Jean-Michel Bernard plays Lalo Schifrin’ at Capitol Studios. I returned in the Spring of 2018 to play at the opening ceremony of the COLCOA French Film Festival which took place at the Director’s Guild of America Theatre on April 23rd. The performance was dedicated to Lalo Schifrin and included the ‘Schifrin-Chopin Suite’, ‘The Plot-Mission Impossible’, and ‘2nd Scherzo’ by Frédéric Chopin.
My recital at the Steinway gallery in Beverly Hills was held on April 26th with guest flutist Sara Andon and cellist Cecilia Tsan. Lalo and his family were present along with members of the film and music community in Los Angeles including Al Schmitt, Jon Burlingame, Fernando Gelbard, Carol Goldsmith and Colette Delerue.
Here are a few more pictures from the recent Steinway concert.
This event was followed by a ceremony at the home of the French Consul General where Lalo was honored by SACEM and received a medal for his remarkable career.
We held a third concert which was more of a jam session. I invited flutist Sara Andon and cellist Cecilia Tsan, and incredible bass player Bunny Brunel (Chick Corea-Herbie Hancock etc.) – Kaylene Peoples sang and played flute. I was also joined by many good friends such as Sean Callery (composer of TV series ‘24’, and ‘Homeland’), Lalo and his wife, Dan Carlin, members of ASCAP and Air-Edel’s LA agent Becca Nelson. We were due to play on the beautiful Mama Shelter Hotel rooftop but it was raining so we played downstairs, at the Mama Shelter bar.
Following my trip to LA, I stopped off in Cannes for a few days to catch up with some friends and meet with my UK agent, Chantelle Woodnutt, who was visiting to speak on an industry panel. We went for dinner at the The Majestic Hotel.
I have many more adventures planned for this year. I will be in concert at Grands Prix UCMF at SACEM on 31st of May.
Then I am in Paris on the June 6th for a concert at Le Duc des Lombards Jazz club performing Lalo’s music with my quintet.
Later in June I will be flying to Japan to give Masterclasses on the 18th and 19th at the prestigious Geidai Tokyo University of Arts. In these classes I will talk about film scoring and speak about my work with Michel Gondry. You can read more about this here.
On June 20th I will be appearing at the Steinway Tokyo Hall – highlights of the programme include ‘Illusion Improvisation Song Op.66’ by Chopin, ‘Schindler’s List’ by John Williams and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Merry Christmas on the Battlefield’. The following day, I will be performing at the opening ceremony of the French Film Festival in Japan which will be held in Yokohama where I’ll be joined by Japanese singer Miyuki Hatakeyama – we performed together last year in Tokyo at Institut Français.
On the 22nd I am in concert at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo for a project I proposed last year to my friend and chef of the French restaurant Les Saisons, Thierry Voisin – we will be mixing French gastronomy and film music! After that, we will spend a day on the golf course (very important!).
I have more concerts coming up later in the year. In July I will play at the St Emilion Jazz Festival and in September, in Copenhagen on the 2nd, the Pont-à-Mousson Film Music Festival performing a tribute to Lalo Schifrin on the 9th, then I head to the Canary Islands on the 21st where I will be opening the Tenerife International Film Music Festival with a piano recital. After Spain, on to Lille for a concert on the 29th to honour the French actor Pierre Richard. In October I will be playing with violinist Laurent Korcia in Bourgogne and with my group in Juan-les-Pins on the 26th. During this time I am also composing for Anne Giafferi’s new film ‘Ni une ni deux’, as well as a new French series on TV channel M6 ‘Qu’est-ce qu’on attend pour être heureux’.
Thanks so much Jean-Michel! You can keep up to date with all of Jean-Michel’s performances by following him on Facebook.