Mario Bernardi (1930-2013)

1999 National Arts Centre Award

Single-minded dedication and an excitement for music are the hallmarks of Mario Bernardi's work. He is an extraordinary combination of musicality and discipline, steeped in an understanding of the composers and music he conducts.

He is "the complete musician", from chamber music all the way to his beloved opera and work with singers. Always he is guided by his own well-researched judgment and his musical inner ear, a man who serves music and not vice versa.

With many international engagements, he's put his greatest effort into music in Canada. One of his greatest gifts to the country has been the creation of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. As founding conductor, he played the pivotal role in creating its unique voice. Through his courage and foresight in hiring its first players and through thirteen years of leadership, he laid a foundation which has endured for thirty years.

Many Canadian composers have seen their new work premiered under his baton. "Often we get a good piece and I feel such joy that I helped start it!"

In a career that continues to flourish, he says, "I love what I am doing. It's life to me." He is a Companion of the Order of Canada.