Hailed for his passion and natural musicianship by critics, audiences, and musicians alike, Rolf Bertsch has quickly become one of Canada's leading conductors. Appointed Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal by Charles Dutoit in January 2000 and named Conductor in Residence for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons, he has built an impressive reputation as conductor, pianist, communicator, teacher and adjudicator. His career has spanned a wide spectrum of musical experience and styles and has taken him to Europe, the Orient, and throughout North and South America.
Laureate of numerous competitions including the Canadian Music Competitions, Rolf Bertsch served for many years as pianist of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, as well as solo pianist for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician, highlights of his career as a pianist have included a number of solo appearances with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under the direction of Charles Dutoit, most notably in Carnegie Hall in 1997, as well as performances at the chamber music festivals in Saratoga and Ottawa.
Rolf Bertsch's career took an important turn when in September 1997 he was named Resident Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held from 1998-2001. During this highly successful tenure, he also served as Music Director of the Calgary Civic Symphony Orchestra and Altius Brass, Calgary's leading brass ensemble, and worked regularly with Calgary's chamber music ensemble Rosa Selvetica and at the University of Calgary.
In June 2000, Mr. Bertsch was invited to conduct the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa in its "Great Composers" series in Beethoven's Triple Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth and Andrew Burashko as soloists. This collaboration was repeated with the OSM in September 2001, this time with Louis Lortie as pianist. Rolf Bertsch has worked with such renowned artists as Jon Kimura Parker, Alessandra Marc, Daniel Binelli, André Laplante, Nicolaj Znaider, Marc-André Hamelin, Richard Raymond, Chantal Juillet, James Ehnes, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Tracy Dahl, Aline Kutan, Renaud Capucon, Benjamin Schmid, and Los Romeros. Music Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens from 1989-1991, he was also the founding conductor of Ensemble Debut in Montreal.
Mr. Bertsch began his musical studies on the violin and went on to study piano, cello, composition, jazz, and conducting with such teachers as Leon Fleisher, Dorothy Morton, Armas Maiste, James Dick, Helena Costa, Uri Mayer, Raffi Armenian, and Gustav Meier. In his years in Montreal and Calgary, he worked extensively with Charles Dutoit and Hans Graf as well as with many visiting artists. He holds diplomas from a number of prestigious institutions including McGill University, the Mozarteum (Salzburg), the Conservatoire de musique du Québec (Montréal), the Folkwang Hochschule (Essen, Germany), and Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts).
Rolf Bertsch has conducted most of the orchestras in Canada including those of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Québec, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Nova Scotia. He has often appeared as a conductor for the "Salute to Vienna" New Year's Day concerts held throughout North America. He made his Canadian Broadcasting Corporation conducting debut with a national broadcast feature performance with the winds of the OSM.
While he excels in a wide range of repertoire, Rolf Bertsch has had particular success with the music of Strauss, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff as well as with the French repertoire through his long collaboration with Charles Dutoit and the OSM. An avid believer in building bridges, he developed and conducted a series of sold-out performances with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal based on music from the movies. He has received accolades for his programming and performances for young audiences. Rolf Bertsch is currently artistic director for "Music at Mount Royal", a concert series he founded featuring OSM musicians performing in chamber ensembles as well as collaborations with other artists and performing groups. In the summer of 2005, he was part of an international faculty at the Canton International Summer Music Academy in Guangzhou, China.
Rolf Bertsch recently completed a stint as the Program Officer for Canadian orchestras and opera companies at the Canada Council for the Arts. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Orchestras Canada from 2004-2007.