Artistic Director Emeritus


On Jan.6, 1957, Bernie Kuehn first set foot on American soil in New York City. He was on his way to Portland after a harrowing flight across the Atlantic from Augsburg, Germany . He was nine years old and didn’’t speak a word of English. Along with his parents, he was about to embark on a 4-day cross-country train journey, learning his first words of English and getting a sense of this new country. In Portland , a very understanding third-grade teacher and first-grade Dick and Jane books taught him English.

Lots of singing and violin-playing got him through the rest of grade school and Wilson High. He knew by now that Music Education was in his future, and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma got him the necessary education. After four years in the Navy (those were Vietnam years) and newly married to Karen from Boston, he returned to P.L.U. for his master’s degree in conducting. His first teaching position brought him to Washington County, twelve years in Gaston, to be exact. There he was able to hone his teaching skills in preparation for ten years at Hillsboro High School. Now, at Century High School, he has his dream job: great kids to work with, and the auditorium is right down the hall.

In his personal life, since he began teaching in 1975, Bernie has sung with the Oregon Repertory Singers , functioned for seven years as the bass soloist and assistant director at the First Unitarian Church in Portland, conducted the orchestra at Pacific University , acted as music director for numerous Broadway musicals at the Theater in the Grove (Forest Grove), and founded the Washington County Chorale . His hobbies include astronomy , model railroading , photography, stamp collecting, and fishing. His family includes his wife, Karen, and his two cats, Koko and Pee-Chee.