Community Advocate Yaacov (Yaki) Bergman
The Board of the Jim Neill Memorial Foundation is pleased to honor, Yaacov (Yaki) Bergman for his dedication to the commitment to his community as an award winning musician and conductor for the Portland Chamber Orchestra. Oregon audiences have embraced the work of this imaginative conductor for more than a quarter of a century.
Born in Israel and growing up on a Kibbutz, Maestro Bergman’s early musical training began with violin and vocal studies, but he soon expressed an avid interest in composing and conducting. After graduation from the Rubin Academy of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, with majors in conducting and composition, he completed post-graduate studies at the Mannes College of Music in New York as a student of Richard Westenburg. He pursued further conducting studies under the guidance of Charles Bruck, a disciple of Pierre Monteux, as well as private study under Leonard Bernstein. 1998 he was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Colorado Technical University for artistic excellence and tireless efforts to reach a culturally diverse audience.
Maestro Bergman is currently Music Director/Conductor of the Portland Chamber Orchestra, the Siletz Bay Music Festival in Lincoln City OR and the Walla Walla Symphony. He is the former Music Director of the Colorado Springs Symphony, the New York Heritage Symphony, and the 92nd St. Y Orchestra in New York City. His versatility has led to frequent guest appearances across the globe conducting the symphonic, operatic, oratorio, balletic and pops repertoires.
Maestro Bergman’s interest in new music and multi-arts concepts is reflected in his programming of many new works. Under his leadership, the Portland Chamber Orchestra developed its distinctive timbre and a new focus on a fusion of art forms, while bringing to audiences World, American and Northwest Premieres. Willamette Week’s annual Finder edition called the PCO “The Most Ambitious Arts Organization in Portland” and, “Punching way above its weight, under Music Director Yaacov Bergman, PCO has lately been the city’s most innovative orchestra, combining music with visual arts, poetry, theater, even science and sex.” He has presented premieres of pieces by noted American composers Robert Starer, William Bolcom, John Verrall, Duncan Neilson, Kenji Bunch, John David Earnest, and composers from around the world including Arvo Pärt, Gorecki, Kancheli, Avni, Shariff and Ben-Amotz.
Maestro Bergman recently guest conducted the Colorado Symphony in a collaborative production with Colorado Central Opera and Ballet, the Manhattan Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, the West Virginia Symphony, a tour with Israel’s Natanya-Kibbutz Orchestra, the New Russia State Philharmonic at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and the Belarusian State Chamber Orchestra in Minsk. Other collaborative ventures include annual productions with Oregon’s Eugene Ballet Company and the Portland Festival Ballet Company with the PCO.
Maestro Bergman’s international conducting engagements included appearances in Japan, Vienna,, Russia, Denmark, Germany, the Philippines, Egypt and Israel. He conducted a series of successful symphonic concerts in Cairo as the first American/Israeli to guest conduct in an Arab republic.
Maestro Bergman’s dedication to his community of musicians and listeners knows no boundaries. His uncompromised commitment to music education is infectious and inspiring, and his determination to involve young people in the PCO concerts activities as both performers and in management duties produced exciting results.
Under his baton, Maestro Bergman has delighted his audience with orchestral classics while challenging their openness to blended art forms and new works by national and international composers.
Yaki Bergman truly embraces his community like Jim Neill did.