Jaelem Bhate is a conductor, composer, and bandleader from Vancouver, B.C. whose musical diversity has come to define his career. Alongside serving as Artistic Director and Music Director for some of the most innovative and forward-thinking ensembles in Canada, Jaelem has steadily added to the repertoire in both the classical and jazz genres. He currently sits on the board of Orchestras Canada, a national association representing the interests of large ensembles across the country.
Jaelem was named to the CBC’s 2019 ’30 under 30 hot classical musicians.
As a conductor, Jaelem has worked professionally as a guest with the Vancouver and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Vancouver Philharmonic. He is the current music director of the Vancouver Brass Collective, as well as the artistic director of Symphony 21, and ensemble which he founded. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaelem spearheaded the creation of a digital season, garnering wide spread recognition and praise for having steered such a young organization through difficult circumstances. Symphony 21’s Fall season featured, in large part, works by underrepresented and unknown composers over two series: ‘Canadian Creators’ and ‘Beyond Backstage’, while its Summer season sees performances paired with local businesses. He is currently a finalist for the position of Artistic Director with the Guelph Symphony. Under his direction, Symphony 21 has gained a reputation for programming that in unique and groundbreaking. In December 2021, he produced a production of The Nutcracker with the orchestra sharing the stage with a full jazz band performing the Ellington and Strayhorn arrangements of the same music. In response to the invasion of Ukraine, Jaelem pulled together a 60 person orchestra on a week’s notice, and brought together community partners who donated their resources in full in support of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Jaelem completed his Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at UBC in 2019 under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Girard. He previously received his undergraduate degree in percussion performance at UBC where he graduated first in his class and received the prestigious Wesbrook Award for academic achievement and leadership. He has pursued training as a conductor, in addition to his Master Degree, with some of the most prestigious pedagogues in the world, and has participated in a number of high profile positions and programs. In 2021, he will be attending the Cabrillo Festival in California (virtually in 2021), where he will study with Christian Macelaru, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, and Marin Alsop. He was the sole apprentice conductor of the highly competitive 2018 National Academy Orchestra of Canada under Maestro Boris Brott, and was a conducting fellow at the 2019 Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina where he worked closely with Maestro Gerard Schwarz. Other programs include the New York Conducting Institute in Manhattan studying with Paul Nadler of the MET Opera company, and the University of Oregon conducting masterclass with Maestro Neil Varon of the Eastman School, and Dr. David Jacobs. He was also assistant conductor at the Pacific Regional International Summer Music Academy with Maestro Arthur Arnold of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted at the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival, the Canadian Music Center New Music series and the 2019 Pacific Rim International Music Festival.
As a composer, Jaelem has been praised for possessing “a personal and highly effective voice” (Canadian Music Center) and has been described as “…a rising star”. (The Midwest Record). He founded and directs the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece jazz orchestra that exclusively performs his compositions and was recently interviewed by CBC Radio 1 for his ensemble’s premiere of his original suite for Jazz Orchestra ‘The Nameless’ featuring the poetry of underrepresented, disadvantaged and discriminated against communities. He recently released his debut album for jazz orchestra ‘on the edge’, featuring a who’s who of Vancouver jazz instrumentalists, and has been hailed for its “polished and confident arrangements” (All About Jazz, 2019). ‘On the Edge’ won the 2020 Julian Award for excellence in Jazz, presented by Patrick Julian and The Jazz Spectrum. His works have been performed on recital programs throughout Canada and the US, and his music was featured as part of the 2019 and 2018 Jean Coulthard Readings, presented by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as by the Victoria Symphony in their 2019 Hugh Davidson sessions. His music was accepted by the International Society of Jazz arrangers and composers as part of their call for scores, to presented at their 2019 conference in Colorado.
Other notable performances and commissions include a premiere as part of the Sonic Boom Festival hosted by Vancouver Pro-Musica, 2 works for the Brazzjazz ensemble, the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the 2018 PRISMA festival, and an upcoming project with the Canadian National Jazz Orchestra. His most recent commercial release was a suite of arrangements of Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ for jazz orchestra. He also has recent credits as chief arranger of the Michael Kim Big Band, writing custom arrangements featuring all-star guests. Jaelem has studied composition Fred Stride and GRAMMY-award winning Darcy James Argue. Jaelem’s work has been funded by FACTOR Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.
As a community leader and programmer, Jaelem created the BRASS-embly symposium as part of his role as Music Director of the Vancouver Brass Collective, aimed at encouraging youth in BC to become further involved in the brass and music community. He also serves as Music director for the Brock House Orchestra, serving a dedicated group of seniors, improving their quality of life through shared music making. He has been involved with youth teaching at the St. James Music Academy on the downtown East side of Vancouver, as well as the UBC Summer Music institute.