Violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson ’95 Joins Oberlin String Faculty

March 23, 2017

Erich Burnett

Sibbi Bernhardsson

Violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson ’95, an esteemed educator and Grammy Award-winning member of the Pacifica Quartet, will join the Oberlin Conservatory of Music faculty as professor of violin, beginning in July.

A native of Iceland, Bernhardsson has performed in major concert halls and festivals around the world. He has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, Jörg Widmann, the Emerson Quartet, and members of the Guarneri and Cleveland quartets, as well as with Icelandic rocker Björk, with whom he took part in a world tour and made numerous television appearances. He frequently presents master classes, and he has performed as a soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra.

In 2000 Bernhardsson joined the Pacifica Quartet, which has long been recognized among the most accomplished string quartets in the world. It performs more than 90 concerts every year and serves as quartet in residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where Bernhardsson has been a member of the faculty since 2012.

In 2006 Pacifica became only the second chamber ensemble to earn an Avery Fisher Career Grant. The quartet won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for its recording of Elliott Carter’s String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 (Naxos). That same year, it was named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

“Sibbi is a deeply gifted and experienced violin teacher who brings with him a broad knowledge of the chamber music repertoire from his distinguished career with the Pacifica Quartet,” says Associate Professor of Violin David Bowlin ’00, director of Oberlin’s Division of Strings. “We are very much looking forward to having him on our faculty and as part of the Oberlin community.”

Bernhardsson is a former student of Roland and Almita Vamos, the tandem teachers who have launched the careers of dozens of outstanding violists and violinists, including Jennifer Koh ’97. His other teachers include Gudny Gudmundsdottir, Matias Tacke, and Shmuel Ashkenasi.

Bernhardsson notes that the Oberlin campus he rejoins today feels very much like the campus he called home as an undergraduate in the 1990s.

“I loved my time as a student, and I’m extremely excited to be back,” he says. “Oberlin College is a very special place, and the conservatory is so wonderful. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect place to study. Having a conservatory in a liberal arts college is ideal for students. The amount of intensity and activity in the convenient setting of a small town makes it a great place to focus and work hard. There is just great positive energy among the faculty and students here.”

Bernhardsson joins the faculty as Oberlin bids farewell to Gregory Fulkerson ’71, a professor of violin for 35 years—and a former chamber music coach to a young Bernhardsson. Fulkerson will retire after the spring 2017 semester.

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