Bernhardur Wilkinson began his musical studies at an early age as a chorister at Westminster Abbey in London. He entered the Royal Northern College of Music in 1969 where his principle study was the flute. His main teacher was Trevor Wye. He has attended master classes with Marcel Moyse, William Bennett and James Galway, and was appointed to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 1975, and has since performed frequently as soloist with various ensembles.
Bernhardur is a founder member of the Reykjavik Wind Quintet which has performed throughout the world, including the Wigmore and Carnegie halls, Sydney Opera House, and live broadcasts for the BBC. They have recorded six CD’s both for Chandos and Bis, which have received very good reviews in the Grammaphone and other music magazines. A new CD will be released by Chandos in 2006 with works for quintet and piano, with the pianist Vovka Ashkenazy.
He has conducted the Philharmonic Choir and has been the chief conductor of the chamber choir Hljomeyki since 1994. In 1999 he was appointed assistant conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the first performance of Atli Heimir Sveinsson´s first symphony and also premiered the first symphony by the Faroese composer Sunleif Rasmussen which later won the Nordic Music Prize. His concert with the trombonist Christian Lindberg playing a concerto by Áskell Másson and a performance of Prokofiev symphony no.5 was broadcasted to ten countries by the European Broadcast Union. He has conducted many concerts with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra with a great variety of repertoire.
Bernhardur is also very active with the Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra. They have recorded a number of CD’s and toured several countries under his leadership. In September 2002, he conducted the Academy Orchestra of St. Petersburg and was offered a subscription concert with the Philharmonic Orchestra of St. Petersburg in June 2004 at the Festival of Friends. He has conducted the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra.
The CD “Nordic Spell”released by the label BIS featuring flautist Sharon Bezaly and Bernhardur conducting the Iceland Symphony Orchestra has received great acclaim and was chosen editors choice in The Gramophone and recording of the month on MusicWeb International.Another CD of music
by the Icelandic composer Haukur Tomasson has been released on the BIS label.It is called “Skíma” and features flautist Sharon Bezaly,doublebass players Hávarður Tryggvason and Valur Pálsson,the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Bernharður Wilkinson.The music press has been very complimentory.