Since early in his life, Connor Bernhard has been enamored with music and its creation. Born in 1992, he was exposed to jazz by his father from day one, but officially started studying guitar at age 7, trumpet at age 10, and has pursued them both in the professional and academic fields. He attended Northern Illinois University from 2010-2012, where he studied with the imitable Fareed Haque and Art Davis. During his tenure, Connor auditioned into the prestigious NIU Jazz Ensemble led by master music educator, Ronald Carter. This allowed him the opportunity to learn the roots of Jazz/Black American music while playing tours with and being mentored by musical greats such as Victor Lewis, Randy Brecker, Wycliff Gordon, Ernie Watts, Terell Stafford, Steve Davis, and more. After two years, Connor made his move to Chicago to start a full time professional career in music and finished a B.A. in Jazz Performance from Roosevelt University in 2017. In the same year, Connor was selected by the Luminarts Foundation as a finalist in its annual Chicago jazz competition along with 4 other talented up and coming artists, where he became a fellow and was awarded a grant that he has used to invest in his music career.
In the professional world, Connor has been busy playing, composing, and arranging for a variety of ensembles including several of his own. He has performed recently with The New Lionel Hampton Band Featuring Jason Marsalis, Eryn Allen Kane, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, New Nostalgia, Zoofunkyou, Infrared, The Heritage Jazz Orchestra, Evolution Orchestra and too many more to list. With these artists and more he has played venues such as The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, The Jazz Showcase, Lincoln Hall, Park West, Martyrs, and more.
Besides live music, Connor is currently working on multiple recording releases on trumpet and guitar that are in various stages of completion at the time of this publishing for his new hip-hop collective called “Zochen” (with Keith “MaestroK” Harris and Hayden Ashley), as well as his creative effort with Dana Thompson and Darin Nicholson dubbed, “Satchmo.” He works either remotely at his home studio or at his clients’ recording studio of choice. His debut creative music album as a leader entitled, “Altitude,” will be released in May 2020 with B.A.C.E. Records and features some of Chicago’s finest young musicians.