Pearl Bergad - ACF Board Member
Pearl Bergad is a lover of international music and culture. Specifically, Pearl is interested in the idea of blending Chinese styles with western traditions. Outside of ACF, Pearl is a retired, long-time research molecular biologist at the University of Minnesota. Currently, Pearl serves as the Executive Director of the Chinese Heritage Foundation.
Why are you involved with the ACF? How did you first hear about the Forum?
I met Linda Hosechler in the late 1990's when I was working on a concert called Hún Qiáo (Bridge of Souls), A Concert of Remembrance and Reconciliation of WWII in Asia with The Chamber Music Society on Minnesota, and we were planning on commissioning some new works. Linda was most encouraging and offered a great deal of advice.
I love being involved in the creative process of giving birth to new works. Exchanging ideas with composers or developing a purpose for creating new music is something that I enjoy. And since supporting composers is the mission of ACF, our interests cross paths often.
Describe your first musical experience that sparked your life-long interest in music.
When I was nine or ten, my older brother found a record – a 78! – of the famous chorus from the opera Aida. We played it over and over, hovering over our ancient record player. Very soon afterwards I bought my first record: Grieg's A-minor Piano Concerto featuring pianist Clifford Curzon. Since I was living in Hong Kong, a British colony then, it was natural that the recording would feature a British pianist rather than an American one!
What excites you about music?
I am a bit of a loner and love listening to music or learning to play a piece of music, where it is just me and the music. It is a personal journey of discovery, and it does not matter whether the music is brand new or 500 years old; for me it is always brand new the first time I encounter it. I like to empty my mind and let the music speak to me. Of course there are many times when I am totally befuddled, but there are also times when it is absolutely exhilarating!
What are you currently listening to? What's on your iPod?
I am currently listening to a new generation of Chinese American composers: Huang Ruo, Mandy Fang, Wang Jie, etc. It is exciting to hear how they are each forging their own paths in merging Chinese musical traditions into western styles. In his new string quartet Huang Ruo turns the violin into the Tibetan horse head fiddle; while in "Resurrection," Mandy Fang explores interacting the clarinet with live electronics. I got to know Wang Jie at the ACF's Composer Institute last fall where she was one of the featured composers. She is pursuing more of an international style. It has been great fun tracking them and meeting some of them.