The Learning Maestros provides tools to inspire students, teachers, families, and learners of all ages to explore connections among the arts, sciences, the environment, social conscience, and diverse cultures.
Founded by the acclaimed composer and educator Bruce Adolphe and cultural impresario Julian Fifer, TLM assembles scientists, artists, authors, and musicians to create interdisciplinary learning guides, music, dialogue, and video for cultural institutions, classrooms, and the home.
Where You Have Seen Us
We have collaborated with the Field Museum of Chicago, the American Museum of Natural History, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Washington National Opera, among others. Our creative partners have included neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, authors Carolivia Herron and Louise Gikow, designer and artist Evan Polenghi, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Creative Director, The Learning Maestros
Resident Lecturer & Director of Family Concerts, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Composer-in-Residence, The Brain and Creativity Institute, USC
Piano Puzzler on Performance Today, American Public Media
Bruce Adolphe is a composer, educator, performer, and author whose music is performed worldwide by renowned artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Fabio Luisi, Joshua Bell, Sylvia McNair, Carlo Grante, the Washington National Opera, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Beaux Arts Trio, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Brentano String Quartet, the Miami Quartet, the Cassatt Quartet, the Currende Ensemble of Belgium, and over 60 symphony orchestras.
Some career highlights have included: Itzhak Perlman’s world premiere performances of Adolphe’s solo violin music at The Kennedy Center and Avery Fisher Hall; Yo-Yo Ma playing the world premiere of Self Comes to Mind, a work based on a text written for the project by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, at the American Museum of Natural History; Joshua Bell performing world premiere of Einstein’s Light with pianist Marija Stroke at UNESCO in Paris as the finale of the United Nations Year of Light, 2015; the Washington National Opera performances of Let Freedom Sing: the story of Marian Anderson (libretto by Carolivia Herron); an evening of Adolphe works at The Kennedy Center; two full-length operas on Jewish subjects at The 92nd Street Y (Mikhoels the Wise and The False Messiah); nine world premieres at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Highlights of the 2015-16 season include the world premiere of Chopin Dreams at Alice Tully Hall, played by Italian pianist Carlo Grante, who also gave the European premiere at the Brahms-saal of the Musikverein, Vienna. This season also sees the release of the film Einstein’s Light by Nickolas Barris, featuring Adolphe’s score, which reflects Einstein’s devotion to playing violin and his love of the music of Mozart and Bach. The soundtrack features violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Marija Stroke, who also performed the work live at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. This summer will see the world premiere of Adolphe’s Piano Concerto, performed by Carlo Grante and the Zürich Philharmonia conducted by Fabio Luisi, and also the premiere of a work for solo guitar to be performed by Eliot Fisk at the Off the Hook Arts Festival in Colorado.
Highlights of the 2014-15 season included the world premiere of Musics of Memory at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC in LA on October 27 and 28, 2014. The work — scored for piano, marimba, harp, and guitar — is structured to reflect the way memory works in the brain. After the performance, there was a discussion about memory, brain, and music with Antonio Damasio, Assal Habibi (director of music research at BCI), and Bruce Adolphe. Also that season, the IRIS Orchestra conducted by Michael Stern gave the world premiere of I Will Not Remain Silent, a violin concerto based on the life of Joachim Prinz, with Sharon Roffman, soloist. On January 19th, 2015, Joshua Bell and Marija Stroke performed highlights of the Einstein’s Light soundtrack live with scenes from the film projected on a screen for the finale of the opening ceremony of The International Year of Light at UNESCO in Paris.
Highlights of the 2013-14 season included performances by the LA Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cassatt Quartet at the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, and the premiere of The End of Tonight (poems by Nathalie Handal) for three female voices, three cellos, and piano at the Greene Space in New York. The 2012-13 season included a premiere commissioned for the opening ceremony of MoMath, the only museum of mathematics in America, and a premiere in Lucerne performed by the Human Rights Orchestra, as well as performances from Santa Fe to Lisbon.
Over the past 25 years, Adolphe has served as composer-in-residence at many festivals and institutions throughout the United States for which he has also created and led educational concerts and workshops for all ages and levels of musical accomplishment. A key figure at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1992, Adolphe is the founder and director of the Society’s Meet the Music family concert series as well as the Society’s resident lecturer. He has appeared as a commentator on Live From Lincoln Center television and as a regular lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The author of three books on music, he has taught at Yale, Juilliard, and New York University. Since 2002, he performs his Piano Puzzlers weekly on public radio’s Performance Today, hosted by Fred Child. With Julian Fifer, Adolphe co-founded The Learning Maestros, a company dedicated to creating new works and related curricula that integrate music with other disciplines, including science, literature, history, and issues of social conscience. His book The Mind’s Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination was published in a second edition in October 2013 by Oxford University Press. Adolphe’s music is recorded on many labels, including Bridge, Delos, Telarc, PollyRhythm, Albany, CRI, New World, and Naxos (American Masters series).
Adolphe was recently appointed composer-in-residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute in Los Angeles, where he works with neuroscientists Antonio and Hanna Damasio and Assal Habibi. He lives in New York City with his wife, the pianist Marija Stroke, their daughter Katja, and Polly Rhythm, the opera-singing parrot.
Managing Director, The Learning Maestros
Executive Director, Musicians For Human Rights
General Manager, Venice Baroque Orchestra
Julian Fifer is an artist manager, producer of concerts, opera, recordings and educational materials, and former cellist. As cellist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for its first 18 years, he performed in hundreds of cities on four continents. Mr. Fifer founded Orpheus in 1972 and was executive director for 26 years. He guided the ensemble from a counterculture startup to the top echelon of the concert and recording businesses.
For decades, Orpheus was the only orchestra in the world where the musicians ran the rehearsals and decided seating positions for every piece of music. Fifer conceived it as a conductorless ensemble in which all the musicians would share both the artistic opportunities and responsibilities, a model now emulated by a new generation of musicians. He identified and selected the musicians to form a virtuoso ensemble capable of performing at the highest international standard of excellence. In 1984, Fifer negotiated the largest record contract held by an American orchestra, resulting in the production of over 50 discs for Deutsche Grammophon in a twelve-year span. He developed relationships for the ensemble with virtually all the major international festivals and music centers, including London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Salzburg, Vienna, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and forged collaborations with leading soloists of the day, including Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, Richard Goode, Radu Lupu, Anne Sophie von Otter, Gil Shaham, Wynton Marsalis, Alfred Brendel, Gidon Kremer, and Dawn Upshaw.
Having positioned the orchestra as an organizational model to help corporations address employee motivation, problem-solving, and job satisfaction, Fifer has been engaged by multinational corporations to speak about creating and sustaining effective teamwork and enhancing creativity and quality. As strategic advisor and worldwide booking manager to the Venice Baroque Orchestra, he has built an unprecedented concert and recording career for an Italian period-instrument ensemble, including many recordings for Sony and Deutsche Grammophon.
Driven by a passion to create ideal balances between music and place, performer and audience, Fifer founded and ran the Venice Music Festival for three years commencing in 2004. The Festival brought new life to neglected manuscripts through historically informed performances, fostered emerging talent, and commissioned new work. His activities now for Musicians For Human Rights involve developing curricula and performance opportunities for the Human Rights Orchestra. At the Learning Maestros, Fifer and Adolphe believe that placing music and the arts at the center of engaged living enriches both the individual and society.
A native New Yorker, Fifer started playing the cello at age six at the Manhattan School of Music, attended the Bronx High School of Science, studied chamber music at the Juilliard School, and received his B.A. in liberal arts from Columbia University. He resides in Portland, Oregon.