Berk Schneider is a trombonist and educator living in Southern California. Described as a “valiant proponent” of newly composed music by San Diego Union Tribune, Berk’s curated performances focus on curious distances between musical material and emotion, lending towards resonant experiences that invite post-concert reflection. These experiences are accentuated via the use of electronics and nurtured by deeply collaborative engagements with gifted composers and performers. His research investigates how listeners map sonic boundaries and performance contingencies over time and space, e.g., how memories impact and are influenced by supposed immutable/dynamic semiotics, flourishing improvisations, and ingrained auditory habits. Berk's approach includes the creation of distinct and often interactive sonic environments in which tacit knowledge can be exchanged readily between participants — fueling practices that not only reflect the time honored traditions of western classical music, but today’s diverse international artistic community through examination of the impact of culture and experience on music cognition.
Berk's musical experiences have taken him across the globe, from Saint Peters Basilica, Vatican City with the Orchestra of the Americas, performing Mozart under the direction of Helmuth Rilling to Carnegie Hall with Maestro Valery Gergiev and Ravel's Bolero. He's taught and performed in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, China, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Uruguay, and United States. From the eerie perplexity of the Orange Show Monument nestled in Houston’s East End to the sold out Toyota Center, Frankfurt's Bockenheimer Depot, and the Berlin Philharmonie — performances occur in venues ranging from abandoned bunkers, parks, and traditional concert halls. His collaborations are equally varied, having worked alongside musicians such as Joshua Bell, Josh Groban, conductors Brad Lubman, Enno Poppe, Robert Spano, composers Beat Furrer, Philip Glass, Helmut Lachenmann, Alvin Lucier, actor Alexander Fehling, the Houston & Firelands symphonies, as well as director Heiner Goebbels.
As an avid contemporary musician Berk has commissioned and performed many new creative works. A grant awarded to him by the Hilda and Hershel Rich Family Endowment for Community Service funded the creation of "Procession," a trombone concerto by Seung-ah Oh, recipient of the Buma Toonzetters Prize and Guggenheim fellow. In addition, Berk collaborated with rising star Sang-Song, winner of the Harvard Fromm Music Foundation and Nee Commission. His new trombone concerto entitled "Frozen Grief" was premiered by The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus in December, 2022.
In Europe Berk has performed in the Darmstadt Summer Course and with Ensemble Modern in the Cresc Biennale Frankfurt, Klangspuren Festival Schwaz, the Kurt Weill Festival, Playsonic Festival, Hessischer Rundfunk radio broadcasts, and other projects. He also worked regularly with the Staatstheater Mainz, Schauspiel Frankfurt and Sinfonieorchester Bad Nauheim (2017). A regular musician with contemporary music ensembles in Austria and Germany, Berk performed "Antipoden" for trombone and ensemble by Gerald Resch with Ensemble Zeitfluss in Vienna (October, 2016) and premiered Ulrich Rasche’s "Sieben gegen Theben/Antigone" in Frankfurt (February, 2017). While being rolled on a 3x4 draisine through Frankfurt Central Station, he made a solo appearance during Studio Libeskind's "One day in Life" concert series, performing Berio's "Sequenza V" (April, 2016). As a founding member of Mobile Beats Ensemble, a formation of alumni from the International Ensemble Modern Academy (2015/17), Berk will have the opportunity to invent many new projects in the future.
Berk is a dedicated teacher and currently works as an Associate Instructor (AI) for the UC San Diego Department of Music. This position has given him the opportunity to teach many different courses, including hip hop, popular music, western music history, music in cognition, electronic music, and fundamental music theory. Prior to his position at UC San Diego, Berk worked as a freelance educator and music clinician in Houston Texas (2010-15) and Frankfurt Germany (2015-18).
In the spring of 2020 Berk recorded a dozen new chamber works in collaboration with the ACTOR project, soon afterward spearheading an independent creative-research grant proposal (MAP) that sought to investigate collaborative relationships between performers and composers during the creation process via digital media and binaural technologies. His findings have been published. His current project entitled Timbrenauts: Creative explorations in timbre space (2022-23) continues with this research in collaboration with Yuval Adler.
As a doctoral candidate at UC San Diego he recently curated his experimental solo show 'Night and Day' in 2022 and recorded SEG, a new work by Sang Song which reflects on the human condition in isolation, resonating with issues introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).
Berk's mentors include James DeSano, Per Brevig, Allen Barnhill, Robin Eubanks, Uwe Dierksen, and Roger Reynolds. He is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Rice University, Frankfurt University of Music, and has been a finalist and honorably mentioned in numerous international trombone competitions, including the Robert Marsteller Competition and Lewis Van Haney Philharmonic Prize.
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