New York's Little Orchestra Society Executive Director Joanne Bernstein-Cohen has Died, Aged 73

Passing away due to complications of adenovirus, she is known for developing the orchestral society into a leading organization in arts education



For 15 years, Bernstein-Cohen was the executive director of the Little Orchestra Society (LOS) — New York City’s premier orchestra dedicated to bringing innovative classical music concerts to both adults and children.

For five years since 1987, she served as LOS’s manager for artistic operations, education, and marketing. Her directorship since 2008 saw her shifting the organization’s focus from auditorium performances to comprehensive in-class residencies in music, dance, fine arts, and other disciplines. 

Bernstein-Cohen studied at New York City’s High School of Music and Art and later earned degrees from Barnard College and Columbia University's Teachers College.

She is remembered for saying: “Music is for everyone. Every child should feel like music is for them.”

According to those at LOS, Bernstein-Cohen never wanted to hear a student say, “No, I can’t,” and made it her mission to ensure every child could say, “Yes, I can.”

“Joanne was never the center of attention, but she was always at the center of the action,” wrote LOS in a statement. “She didn’t seek a life on stage, but she described her job as pushing others into the spotlight. Joanne’s legacy will live on in L.O.S.’s robust partnerships with a dozen schools, community centers, museums, and beyond.

“It will live in the hearts of students who may never have known who she was but who delight in the music all the same,” they continued.

Our condolences to Ms. Bernstein-Cohen’s family, friends, and colleagues.