"swelling rhythms and high-spirited melodies created by Cyprus native George Lernis for a program of improvisation-grounded performances blended with traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music influences." - Jazziz magazine (Mark Holston)
Born and raised in Nicosia Cyprus, George Lernis is a world recognized drummer, world percussionist, composer and educator who currently resides in the U.S. He has recorded and collaborated with prominent figures such as: John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, Antonio Sanchez, Dave Liebman, Anat Cohen, Tiger Okoshi, A Far Cry String Orchestra and Mehmet Ali Salnikol’s Whatsnext? big band, just to name a few. In addition, George regularly performs at venues such as the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and gives workshops at higher education institutions such as the Berklee College of Music, Emerson College among others.
Having grown with the musical traditions of the Middle East/Mediterranean regions and later having moved to the U.S. to study Jazz at the Berklee College of Music, George is considered to be bimusical. In addition to his extensive training and experience on drumset, he specializes in a number of traditional instruments such as: the darbuka (goblet shaped drum), bendir (frame drum), riq (Arabic tambourine) and santur (hammered microtonal dulcimer).
Growing up in Cyprus and being surrounded by traditional music George became interested in hand percussion at an early age, specifically the instrument known as darbuka. At the age of 13 he started attending formal jazz drum-set lessons and by the age of 15 he was playing music with several bands in the styles of Jazz, rock and Greek traditional music. In 1998 George joined the Cypriot Army Force where he eventually became a member of the military band SMEF serving as the lead drummer of his unit.
In 2001 he came to the United States to study music at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Throughout his studies George was mentored by master musicians such as: Kenwood Dennard, John Ramsay, Mark Walker, Dave Samuels, Gary Barton and Gary Chaffee among others. He graduated in April 2005 with a bachelor degree in Jazz Performance. In 2008, George was accepted at the Longy School of Music with a scholarship from where he received a master’s degree in Modern American Music. During his graduate studies he studied privately with master drummer Bob Gullotti and bassist John Lockwood.
In 2008, George released his first album as a bandleader, Shapes of Nature featuring the George Lernis Jazz Quartet. Around this time, George also formed the Anatoliama INC non-profit, performing and preserving the musical traditions of Greece around the U.S. and the world in the form of concerts and educational workshops.
In 2020 George was awarded a full scholarship at the Berklee College of Music Global Jazz Institute. During his time there he was mentored by jazz legends such as Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano and John Patitucci among others. In 2021 he graduated with his second masters degree in Contemporary Performance.
On June 10th, 2022 George released his second album “Between Two Worlds” which features world renowned bass player John Patitucci. The music for his new album/initiative was inspired by the ongoing stereotyping of immigrants based on their origins, religions and skin color. Being an immigrant himself, this is a social issue that he is deeply passionate about.