Margaret Bernstein

New York City born Margaret Bernstein is an award winning singer-songwriter, composer and flutist with a unique voice, dynamic lyrics, and a positive and compelling message. Unlike many other songwriters of the pop-rock genre, Margaret is a classically trained musician who is an accomplished instrumental performer as well as a composer. Her musical compositions, which include elements from a diverse spectrum of styles and genres, have been inspired in part by her personal experiences and travels, which include four pilgrimages to India. Her live performances are a testament to Margaret’s amazing versatility, as she quickly segues from playing a Bach Partita on her flute to passionately playing the piano on an upbeat pop song. What makes Margaret stand out, however, is not only her eclectic and interesting background and level of accomplishment as a musician, but also her ability to communicate honestly and personally with her audience at heart level through her songs and music.

Performing and creating socially awakened songs and uplifting instrumentals, Margaret is an artist who continues to inspire while generating continued interest from film directors, producers, publishers and a growing audience of fans worldwide. As Margaret herself says: “Keep an open heart and mind and the possibilities are endless.” In her recordings and live performances, Margaret strives to embrace humanity with love and compassion through the gift of her music and the messages of her songs.

Cinderella Falling”, the recent music video featuring Margaret as an alluring fairy Godmother, has generated much applause and interest from the media and fans while excitedly anticipating her upcoming “Distant Thunder” album, which is scheduled to be released in 2011. Margaret’s previous singer-songwriter release, “Bricks in the Wall”, includes eleven original songs in addition to a music video of the title song, which is aimed at the awareness and healing of the lesser-known aspects of domestic abuse. In addition, Margaret has recorded and co-produced two instrumental albums, "Full Circle" and "On the Threshold Of Change", which feature her original compositions for flute with her own piano accompaniment.

The passion that Margaret puts into her music is also evident in her work as an educator and advocate for youth. In 2005, Margaret founded Azalea Blossom Incorporated, a not for profit 501c3 organization for the awareness, education and prevention of domestic and social violence and child abuse through the use of music, multimedia and the Arts. Through Azalea Blossom, Margaret created the SAFE through the Arts program, a weeklong educational prevention program for middle school students based on Self Affirmation, Financial Literacy, and Education of non-violence. Margaret enthusiastically teaches SAFE through the Arts at public middle schools throughout New York State. At the conclusion of each program, Margaret’s five-piece band performs an assembly concert in which the school chorus performs with Margaret’s band to sing “Believe”, the SAFE through the Arts theme song, which Margaret wrote in order to help empower youth. Margaret is also the founder of the Youth Sahavas, a retreat for teenagers held annually in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Margaret engaged in careers as a freelance flutist in the San Francisco Bay Area and a public school teacher in upstate New York before launching her career as a singer-songwriter. Her virtuosity on the flute earned her two degrees in performance (Oberlin Conservatory, BM; and Arizona State University, MM), won her several awards and scholarships, and led her to performances as a solo, chamber, and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She has shared the stage with Tuck and Patty, Annie Haslam (of Renaissance), and jazz guitarist Mimi Fox among other notable musicians and has appeared on a compilation album produced by The Who's Pete Townsend. Additional performances include an opera season with the Albany Symphony and five seasons with the Dance Brigade’s “Nutcracker Sweetie” production (Oakland, California).

Growing up into a family of professional dancers and educators, Margaret was exposed to the importance of both the arts and education from an early age. Margaret’s Great Aunt, Katherina Forbes Dunlop, was the headmistress of the oldest girls’ boarding school in England, which was later bought by Playboy Entrepreneur Victor Lownes. KFD was a leading source of inspiration to Margaret, along with Margaret’s parents and Godmother, Margaret Craske. With support and encouragement of her creative endeavors, Margaret Bernstein began composing short instrumental compositions and writing poetry by age seven. Margaret’s musical compositions have earned her international recognition through repeated awards from UNISONG, West Coast Songwriters’ Organization, and ASCAP. In addition, Margaret has written two original children's musicals, “The Little Seed” and “The Trees' Song for Peace” as well as songs for children and school choruses, which have been performed at public, private, and charter schools throughout the United States.

Despite her engaging career, Margaret manages to balance her musical endeavors with her other responsibilities and interests, which include hiking, cross-country skiing, and riding her horse, Reba. She is also intrigued by the medieval history of East Sussex, England, where her family has a residence and where Margaret also has a musical following in addition to her following in the United States and Canada. Margaret currently lives on her farm in upstate New York, where she resides with her fourteen-year-old son, Julian, and their beloved animals.

How do you describe your music to people, Margaret?
"Socially Awakened Songs and Uplifting Instrumentals" is how I brand my music. I write instrumental compositions for flute and piano that could be categorized as "New Age" with definite classical music influences similar to that of Windham Hill artists and the Paul Winter Consort. My singer-songwriting material, which is of the folk-pop nature, broadly resembles that of Sheryl Crow, Dido, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Sara Bareillis, Natalie Merchant and the Cranberries.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
While attending the Waldorf School of Garden City, New York, I learned how to play recorder and piano, read music, and sing in a choral setting at an early age. I began composing musical compositions and also writing poetry by the age of seven and began writing and orchestrating chamber music by the age of ten. During my high school years, I attended the Manhattan School of Music preparatory program on Saturdays and performed in several youth orchestras including the orchestras at New York State Summer School of the Arts orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts center and at Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. It was while I was attending Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio that I began to write songs. During this time, I also began recording flute on other people's albums. I was offered free studio time to record and produce six of my original songs during a Winter Term Project at Oberlin. It was then that I realized how much I love being in the recording studio and producing my original material. Since then, I have co-produced three full-length albums (I am presently recording my fourth) and two music videos.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
My favorite thing to do in the world is to write songs surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of nature! I especially like to write by the waterfall at the nearby Huyck Preserve and also by my pond, from where I can see my horses grazing in their paddock.

I absolutely love to record music and produce CDs,which is why I do what I do!

I also love spending time with my animals and I feel so blessed that I was able to dance with my pet rooster Bob (the late Robert E Rooster) in my Cinderella Falling music video before he passed away last May.

I am also very passionate about working with youth-and especially teenager- which is why I founded and instruct the SAFE through the Arts program.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The biggest challenge, which I have faced as a performing and recording artist has been to consistently raising enough funds for me to continue pursuing my art. I find that I need to continually use and believe in my resourcefulness in finding creative ways in order to meet this challenge.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was in elementary school, I thought that I would become a children's author and when I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to play flute professionally. Interestingly, I utilize both writing and music performance in my career.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Growing up outside of New York City in a family of dancers definitely had an impact on my development as an artist and a musician. I was exposed to the Arts- and specifically modern dance performance- at a very young age. Being a part of a Waldorf (Rudolf Steiner) community in which all the arts are embraced in the daily curriculum, also had a huge impact on my development as a musician. I learned to use and foster my creativity in all aspects of my life and keep an open mind at an early age. I also was given many opportunities to perform as a young child and write music as each class at my school had its own orchestra and we usually had two music classes a day! My teachers, as well as my parents, also all encouraged my to keep writing poetry and music.

What other artists out there do you love?
There are so many other performing artists and songwriters whom I truly admire and who  have been inspirational to my career. I have had been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with several of these artists, which include Cris Williamson, (the late) Dan Fogelberg, Barbara Higbie, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Rait, Paul Winter, the Indigo Girls, Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Annie Haslam (Renaissance), (The late) Pablo Casals, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Mimi Fox, Dan Navarro and Tuck& Patty.

What does your future hold?
In the foreseeable future, I hope and plan to record, co-produce and release several more singer-songwriter CD's and music videos. I hope to perform many more SAFE through the Arts concerts as well as perform the NorthEast US college circuit with my band. I also plan on licencing several of my songs and compositions to major television and film productions in both the US and the UK. I plan on winning the Grammy award for the best song!  I hope to perform original music on flute in an ensemble of performing composers. In addition, I imagine myself performing on a float in the Rose Bowl parade singing "Cinderella Falling" with the cast of my Cinderella music video!