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Meet Our Conductor - Rolf Bertsch


“Confident and fluid on the podium, this Canadian is obviously a natural conductor who has been trapped too long in a pianist’s body...” Montreal, The Gazette

Hailed for his passion and natural musicianship, 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 a conductor, pianist, communicator, teacher and adjudicator. His career spans a broad spectrum of musical experience and styles. Accordingly, it has taken him to Europe, Asia, and throughout North and South America.

Mr. Bertsch began his musical studies on the violin and went on to study piano, cello, composition, jazz, and conducting. He also holds diplomas from many 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).

Laureate of numerous competitions, Rolf Bertsch served for many years as the pianist of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Additionally, as a solo pianist and also as conductor for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. His career as a pianist has included a solo performance with the OSM in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall.

Rolf Bertsch’s career took an important turn when he was named Resident Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. He held the position from 1998-2001. During this highly successful tenure, he also served as Music Director of the Calgary Civic Symphony Orchestra and Altius Brass. He also worked regularly with Calgary’s chamber music ensemble Rosa Selvetica and at the University of Calgary.

Rolf Bertsch has conducted most of the orchestras in Canada including those of Montreal, Toronto, the National Arts Centre, Calgary, Edmonton, Québec, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Nova Scotia. While in those posts, he has collaborated with many of Canada’s and the world’s finest artists.

In 2005, he was part of an international faculty at the Canton International Summer Music Academy in Guangzhou, China. In the last year, he worked at the Canada Council for the Arts as the Program Officer for the Professional Orchestra and Opera/Music Theatre programs. He oversaw the federal granting process for those communities.

In addition to his duties as Music Director and Conductor of the Calgary Civic Symphony, he teaches piano and coaches Academy program students at the Mount Royal University Conservatory. He also works as a freelance conductor, pianist and arts consultant.

Previous Music Directors/Conductors

The Calgary Civic Symphony has had the pleasure of with working with very talented music directors and guest conductors.

  • Kenneth L. Nielsen, 1975-1983
  • Stephen Franse, 1983-1986
  • Janos Horvath, 1988-1993
  • Gerald Wirth, 1994-1998
  • Rolf Bertsch, 1998-2000
  • Mel Kirby, 2000-2002
  • Rosemary Thomson, 2002-2008
  • Rolf Bertsch, 2008 – present


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The Calgary Civic Symphony is the performing entity of the Orchestra Society of Calgary. Registered Society in Alberta, CRA # 88754 6661 RR0001 


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