Jay Bernfeld is increasingly admired as a performer of great expressivity on the viola da gamba. His recordings of solo music for the viola da gamba have received extravagant praise in the international press.
Jay Bernfeld considers the rich cultural life of his native New York an integral musical apprenticeship. Countless concerts by masters of the past, such as Horowitz, Rubenstein, and Oistrakh, left the young musician with unforgettable souvenirs. In his early adolescence a deep love of the singing voice led him to the Metropolitan Opera where he witnessed performances by Callas, Price, Sutherland and other fabled performers. He avows a particular admiration for the Italian Soprano Renata Tebaldi, whose vocal splendor, dramatic sense, and love for her public have served as a source of inspiration throughout his own career.
Following his studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Jay Bernfeld appeared with Hesperion XX in concerts and recordings. Newly installed in Paris he participated in several of the exciting early recordings of William Christie’s Arts Florissants. He toured and recorded extensively with the Capriccio Stravagante and directed with Skip Sempé a series of « first operas » including the Intermedii della Pellegrina for the Ambronay Festival and Monteverdi’s Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria which inaugurated the Mitropoulos Hall at the Athens Concert Hall.
Jay Bernfeld has been hailed for his work on the Basso Continuo, that key element in the art of Baroque accompaniment. He is passionately interested in the rediscovery and development of 17th century theater and opera as witnesses the repertoire of Fuoco E Cenere, the ensemble which he directs.
Jay Bernfeld has taught since his student days, in Italy, France, Norway, Switzerland and the United States - the viola da gamba as well as instrumental and vocal repertoire spanning five centuries. He gave master classes at the Leipziger Bachtage on the theme of ‘Bach and French Music’. Invited by David Stern, he held master classes on baroque style and technique at the Festival d'Art Lyrique Aix –en-Provence 's vocal academy and further assisted Maestro Stern for the Nozze di Figaro at the Rouen Opera.
United by a love of the vocal arts and a common aesthetic they found Opera Fuoco, the ensemble where, with evident pleasure, they explore the expressive limits of the lyrique repertoire, in the company of young singers.