About

Gregory Berg. The Messy Professor

Why do I call my website “The Messy Professor”?  If you ever caught a glimpse of the interior of my car or either of my studios,  you wouldn’t even waste your breath asking the question.   But I also chose the name because my life is a bit “messy” in the sense that it isn’t particularly simple or tidy. I juggle three different jobs plus various other pursuits – and I love them all.  For as messy and crazy as my life is,  I wouldn’t change it for anything.  Take a look.

Carthage College

I am an Assistant Professor of Music at Carthage College (Kenosha, WI), a vibrant liberal arts college picturesquely perched on the shore of Lake Michigan.  I teach private voice, oversee our opera productions, conduct the Lincoln Chamber Singers, accompany the Carthage Choir, and teach several classroom courses from time to time. I love being part of such an exciting academic community, where I can teach with such brilliant and dedicated colleagues and work with such talented students.  I began teaching there in the fall of 1991 as a substitute for a voice teacher on sabbatical.  Fortunately for me, my arrival coincided with a dramatic upturn in enrollment and they still needed me even after the professor in question had returned.  I became officially full time in 1995 and am still there all these years later – and loving it as much as ever.  (Pictured is one of my most recent Carthage voice students,  Nick Huff.)

WGTD

I begin every weekday morning at WGTD FM 91.1, an affiliate of Wisconsin Public Radio and NPR. I have been their Fine Arts Director since 1986, and have been the sole host/producer of “The Morning Show,” a daily 48-minute interview program, since 1998.  I interview a wide range of authors, teachers, artists, athletes, elected officials, and other interesting people.  It’s impossible to list all of the notable people I’ve interviewed, but a few Big Names include: Jimmy Carter, Madelyn Albright, Maya Angelou,  Mario Cuomo, Daniel Ellsburg, Tim Russert, Alan Alda, Bob Newhart, Gene Hackman, Jessye Norman, Paula Poundstone,  Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Eileen Farrell, Bonnie Blair, and Al Michaels … just to name a few!   (Pictured are two young guests who took part in a phone interview I did with Mike Johnson – their dad – who helped with the cleanup after Hurricane Sandy out east.  At the very end of the interview, they joined me to say hello to their dad.)

Holy Communion Lutheran Church

Since 1988,  I have served Holy Communion Lutheran Church in Racine as their Minister of Music. I coordinate the music ministry there,  help plan worship,  serve as occasional substitute organist, and conduct the Senior Choir.  It was for Holy Communion that I composed my folk liturgy “O the Joy” in 1995, and we have been using it on the third Sunday of every month ever since.  It is done at roughly a dozen different churches across the Midwest.  I feel very blessed indeed to be part of a congregation with such a rich musical heritage where the parishioners are so deeply appreciative.   (Pictured is a young man playing a piano solo for one of our periodic Youth Preludes – with some of our folk service musicians looking on.)

Racine Theater Guild

I have served as Music Director for most of the musicals at the Racine Theater Guild since 2002.  What a pleasure it has been to work with Artistic Director Doug Instenes on such exciting productions as “Les Miserables,” “The Sound of Music,” “Spamalot,” “Chicago,” “Gypsy,” “The Music Man,” “Godspell,” and “Mary Poppins,” “Side by Side by Sondheim,” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” – just to name a few.  I love how the RTG is very definitely a community theater with a real sense of family, and yet the standard of excellence is uncommonly high.  As far as I’m concerned,  that’s the best of both worlds.  (Pictured is the cast for our production of “Side by Side by Sondheim.”  We ended the first act with the entire cast joining in on the song “You gotta have a Gimmick.”  In all my years at the RTG,  that’s still one of my all time favorite moments.)

Composing

I have dabbled in composition for almost as long as I can remember, but only became more serious about it after beginning my work at Holy Communion in 1988.  Especially significant to me was a two year period during which I composed a brand new piece of music for my Senior Choir every single week.  That’s where I really sharpened my craft and found my voice as a composer.  Just before turning 50, I finally sent several pieces off to 7 prospective music publishers, just so I could say that I tried.  Imagine how thrilled I was when Hal Leonard said they were interested!  They have published three of my works: “Strength,” “Great and Glorious Light,” and “Shepherd’s Gloria.” My most recent commissioned pieces include: “Blessing (For Lee)” for the Master Singers of Milwaukee,  “Never Will I Forget” for Trish Jordahl at Eastern Arizona College,  and “One More Reason to Sing” for the 50th annual Kenosha Unified School District Choral Festival.

Performing

I do a fair amount of solo singing and am grateful for each and every opportunity I’m given.  I’ve soloed with both the Kenosha and Racine Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Racine Concert Band.  For over twenty years, I’ve been the emcee/soloist with the Kenosha Pop Band for their summer concerts at the Pennoyer Park Bandshell.  Among my most recent projects was soloing in the world premiere of a new choral/vocal work based on Moby Dick – and just before that, I organized, played for, and sang on an opera program for Kenosha’s Fine Arts at First series- a concert which featured Metropolitan Opera contralto Meredith Arwady.   I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Singalong Messiah performances (with orchestra) which I have conducted in Kenosha for more than ten years.   Once upon a time, I was a 4-time first place NATS winner and also a District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  In 1985-1986, I was privileged to be part of the Lyric Opera Center of American Artists,  one of the finest opera apprentice programs in the country.   (The photo shows me singing on a Lakeside Pops concert with the Racine Symphony Orchestra.)

Private Teaching

I like to devote as much of my free time as possible to teaching private voice lessons – mostly to middle school and high school boys.  At a national voice teacher convention several years ago,  a highly regarded teacher who specialized in working with young male singers gave an inspiring presentation that ended with this admonition for all of us who were present:  ” If A Young Male Singer Ever Comes To You And Asks For Voice Lessons, Please Say Yes!”  (It was her contention that the world needs more male singers, and one way to keep males singing is to help them through the difficulty of their Voice Change.)   I have taken that to heart, and I do my very best to make room in my schedule for any young male singer who is interested in studying voice with me.   I try to keep my rates as reasonable as possible in order to make the lessons within reach of most young people with a genuine interest.  For me, it is a labor of love.   (Pictured is one of my private voice students,  Andrew Dorst.)

Personal

I was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota …. the son of a Lutheran pastor.  I grew up in a loving home with three younger siblings- Steve, Randi, and Nathan.  My hometowns were Colton, SD – Decorah, IA and Atlantic IA.  I graduated from Luther College (Decorah, IA) in 1982 with a double major in Music and Religion.  From there I earned my Masters Degree in Opera Performance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  I’ve been married since 1991 to my wife Kathy, who is an elementary music teacher;  I could not possibly do all of the things I do without her by my side.   We share our home with two beautiful and rambunctious golden retrievers,  Bobbi and Ellie.  I play a little tennis (not too well), own well over 350 neckties, read voraciously, and am renowned for the messiness of my car and both of my studios.   I love watching great documentaries, but also appreciate the chance to kick back with a classic sitcom rerun. I love many kinds of music, but opera is what I enjoy the most.  I have a lot to be thankful for and I really try to live a life that is grounded in gratitude.