Please introduce yourself
My name is Gregory Berg- and I am 1) an Associate Professor of Music at Carthage; 2) Host of “The Morning Show,” a daily interview program on WGTD FM 91.1, the local NPR affiliate; 3) Minister of Music at Holy Communion Lutheran Church…plus I’m an active singer and pianist in the community.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota while my father was a religion professor at Augustana College. Soon thereafter, he went into the parish ministry and we lived in several different small communities in South Dakota, Iowa, and eventually Wisconsin. I went to Luther College (in Decorah, Iowa) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln…so I am a Midwesterner through and through.
How did your life’s journey bring you to Racine?
I moved to Southeastern Wisconsin in 1986 to take the position of Fine Arts Director at WGTD. Two years later, I began work at Holy Communion Lutheran Church in Racine – and that’s where I met and fell in love with Kathy Gall, a lifelong Racinian who sang in the senior choir. We were married in 1991 – and although we began our married life in Kenosha, we eventually moved to Racine in 1994 and have lived here ever since. And I am sure this is where we will live for the rest of our lives. Neither of us can imagine living anyplace else.
What do you like best about Racine?
I’m stealing the first half of my answer from Jeri Smith, a former general manager of the Racine Symphony and a former director of RUAF. I remember Jeri saying in an interview with me that one of the best things about Racine is that it’s large enough to have a vibrant and varied cultural landscape – but small enough that the people who live here can be meaningful participants in its institutions and ensembles. To quote Goldilocks: “It’s just right!” Second, I love where Racine is located – perched on the shore of Lake Michigan and located between Milwaukee and Chicago. I can’t imagine a better place to live and work. Third, I love Racine’s rich legacy as a city of invention and innovation. And fourth, I love that Racine is a city with great heart, where there are lots of people working incredibly hard to make people’s lives better.
Please give some examples of how your work has made a positive impact on the community.
There is a famous saying by Keats that says that the work of a teacher is not to fill a pail – but rather to light a fire. I hope I have lit a fire (of enthusiasm, passion, and gratitude) in the hearts of the young people to whom I have given voice lessons – instilling in them a greater love of singing and a deeper awareness of the talent with which they have been blessed. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities I have had in this community to share my love of music and to collaborate with talented musicians of many different stripes. And I think quite often of the group Adventures in Lifelong Learning, for whom I have given many lectures over the years. I have learned so much in preparing those lectures (on opera and other musical topics), as well as in preparing for the interviews I do for my radio program. I am so thankful that my own life has been an adventure in lifelong learning and I hope that never changes.
What is the least understood aspect about what you do?
Most people don’t have any idea of what a voice teacher does. It is an incredible privilege to work one-on-one with talented young people …. But each and every collaboration is its own unique experience. (I do not believe that One Size Fit All. I work very hard to be the kind of voice teacher who works with each student as a truly unique individual.) As for my radio interviews, I think the trickiest aspect for people to understand is that I enter every interview as thoroughly prepared as I can be – but I don’t want to be rigidly locked into pre-determined questions, which would make the interview sterile. The best interviews feel like entirely spontaneous conversations with lively give and take, and that’s what I aim to achieve.
What would you like to accomplish during the next 6 months? 12 months?
In the next six months, I will be composing a piece for the world famous Nordic Choir, the top choir at my alma mater, Luther College. It’s a commission from a Luther grad in honor of his 50th class reunion in the fall of 2020. I could not be more excited – or humbled – by this opportunity. In the next 12 months, I want to prepare several of my choral compositions to send off to prospective publishers. I first did this right before I turned 50 years old- and ended up getting three pieces published by Hal Leonard. Ten years later, it’s time to try again – this time in honor of my 60th birthday next year. Whether or not I’m successful, it will be good for me to once again make the attempt.
What is the best way to contact you?
My email address is email@example.com. And my personal website is messyprofessor.com.