Joe Bernstein

My day job is director of operations and education for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO). WYSO celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2016 and we’ve seen phenomenal growth in recent years—we currently have 470 children in our various musical programs from the greater Madison area and throughout south central Wisconsin. We’re fortunate to have exceptionally strong school music programs in our area, plus supplemental programs such as Music Makers and Suzuki Strings, all of which help to ensure a high caliber of musicians. In recent years, we’ve been working to diversify our student base so that it’s more representative of our community. This supports our mission statement, “Enriching Lives by Providing Transformational Musical Experiences and Opportunities.”

My most memorable caffeine was the pots and pots of coffee my high school friends and I would share sitting at Perkins on a Friday night.

My current caffeine of choice is black in general and, occasionally, an espresso or a Cuban coffee.

My favorite place for caffeine is usually in my car on the way to work. But if I could, I’d have coffee in Rome every day—either an espresso standing at the bar or a coffee at the Autogrill, (which are the rest stops in Italy and very different from an American rest stop).

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is James Brown. He was so ornery and cantankerous—I’m sure he would have some really great stories. I’d love to know what it was like to be in the music industry as long as he was and the many things that changed throughout his career.

If I were picking someone closer to home, I’d have coffee with my now three- and five-year-old sons as adults. I fully expect to have coffee with them as adults, but it would be fun to magically experience them at an older age right now.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  There are so many issues around social justice and equity. If you could just get two people with opposing views to sit down and get to know each other over a cup of coffee, I think you’d see a lot of bias dissipate and maybe we could solve some of our problems.