ACF Roundtable on the Asian American Experience

There is a full, vibrant spectrum of diversity that makes up the Asian American experience. In light of ongoing events around anti-Asian hate, ACF would like to create a safe space to share stories as well as highlight and celebrate what it means to be an Asian American today. Artist and ACF board member Vivian Fung will moderate a conversation with artists Nina Shekhar, Sugar Vendil, and Pearl Lam Bergad. Topics of discussion include reactions to recent events, whether those events have affected their art, and what the future might hold.

Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 3pm CDT / 4pm EDT (Register Here)

Pearl Lam Bergad
Nina Shekhar
Sugar Vendil
Vivan Fung (moderator)

Pearl Lam Bergad

Pearl Lam Bergad--Photo courtesy of the artist

Pearl Lam Bergad–Photo courtesy of the artist

A biology major from Carleton College and a well-respected molecular biologist at the University of Minnesota, Pearl Lam Bergad is perhaps better known for her accomplishments in pursuing world peace and mutual understanding through music. An accomplished pianist herself, Bergad believes that music can build bridges among people who long for peace. Her efforts to shepherd this production, from conception to world premiere, earned her recognition by President George W. Bush, who described Bergad as a “quiet hero” volunteering to improve her community. As the volunteer executive director of the Chinese Heritage Foundation in Minneapolis, in 2008 Bergad also led the creation of A Passage to China, a two-day annual cultural event at the Mall of America attended by thousands of Minnesotans and international visitors. Bergad, who also served on the board of directors of both the Chinese Senior Citizens Society and the American Composers Forum, is the recipient of the College of Biological Sciences Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans.  On June 19, she will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Carleton College Alumni Association.

Nina Shekhar

Nina Shekhar--Photo courtesy of the artist

Nina Shekhar–Photo courtesy of the artist

Nina Shekhar is a composer who explores the intersection of identity, vulnerability, love, and laughter to create bold and intensely personal works. Described as “vivid” (Washington Post) and “surprises and delights aplenty” (LA Times), her music has been commissioned and performed by leading artists including Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, LA Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, LA Chamber Orchestra, JACK Quartet, New York Youth Symphony, ETHEL, and violinist Jennifer Koh. Nina is a recipient of the 2021 Rudolf Nissim Prize, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (2015 and 2019), and the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Leonard Bernstein Award, funded by the Bernstein family. Aside from composing, Shekhar is a versatile performing artist as a flutist, pianist, and saxophonist. Shekhar is currently pursuing her PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University. She is serving as the 2021-2023 Composer-in-Residence for Young Concert Artists. She previously completed graduate studies at University of Southern California and undergraduate studies at University of Michigan, earning dual degrees in music composition and chemical engineering. Shekhar is a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and is on faculty at Brightwork newmusic‘s Project Beacon initiative.  She served as the inaugural Debut Fellow of the Young Musicians Foundation, designing curricula for LA-area schools.

Sugar Vendil

Sugar Vendil--Photo by Jasmine Chong

Sugar Vendil–Photo by Jasmine Chong

Sugar Vendil is a composer, pianist, and interdisciplinary artist based in Lenapehoking/Brooklyn, NY. Her compositions span acoustic, electro-acoustic, and electronic works, and her interdisciplinary practice integrates music and movement. Her work often revolves around memory and the nuances of human experience. Recent commissions include ETHEL 2019 Homebaked, ACF | create with Boston-based duo Box Not Found, and a Chamber Music America commission with The Nouveau Classical Project, which she founded in 2008. She was a 2020 Artist Fellow at The National Arts Club. As a 2016 Fellow in the Target Margin Institute for Collaborative Theater Making, Vendil was encouraged to further pursue her interest in composition and performance making. In 2019, Vendil was Artist in Residence at High Concept Labs in Chicago and Target Margin Theater, and a Resident Artist at Mabou Mines. Other residencies: Marble House Project, Summer Labs at National Sawdust, Avaloch Farm, Earthdance, the A-Z West Wagon Station Encampment, Arts Letters & Numbers, and Yaddo. She has performed at: BAM Fisher, Dixon Place, Knockdown Center, Lincoln Center, MoMa PS1, National Sawdust, the New School’s Glassbox Theater, The Stone, Roulette, The Development Gallery, Milk Studios, and Spring Studios.

Vivian Fung

Vivian Fung--Photo courtesy of the artist

Vivian Fung–Photo courtesy of the artist

JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung combines idiosyncratic textures and styles into large-scale works, reflecting her multicultural background. She has recently completed a new flute concerto for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and is at work on new pieces for the L’arc Trio, Tangram Collective, Lafayette String Quartet, percussionist Katie Rife, and trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden, as well as a new opera with librettist Royce Vavrek for Edmonton Opera’s The Wild Rose Opera Project.  In July 2020, the CBC Virtual Orchestra gave the online world premiere of Fung’s Prayer, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Fung mentors composers at the American Composers Forum, San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, London Symphony Orchestra, and Cabrillo Festival. Born in Canada, she received her doctorate from The Juilliard School. Fung lives in California and is on the faculty of Santa Clara University.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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