the bearer laboratory
Home  /  Bearer Research  /  Lab Members  /  Publications  /  Music & Mind  /  Education & Training  /  Links  /  Contact

Music and Mind

Boulanger photo

Bearer began composing at age 6, with a performance of some of her compositions in student recitals at the age of 9. During school years, she first studied violin and piano. She then moved to viola and French horn, played in the local community orchestras, and studied with performance faculty at Juilliard School in Manhattan. Still in her teens, Bearer traveled to France to study with Nadia Boulanager, first at Fontainebleau and then in Paris. She obtained a Bachelor’s of Music from The Manhattan School in Theory and Composition, and then a Master’s of Art in Musicology from NYU. Afterward, she left New York for San Francisco for a tenure-track assistant professorship at Lone Mountain College. Her compositions were performed in Paris and Geneva, and then in New York, New Jersey, and San Francisco.

Image credit: Mlle. Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau, photographed for Elaine L. Bearer by Guy Vacheret

Charged with a great curiosity about how music impacts the brain, Bearer embarked on an odyssey in the realm of neuroscience, beginning at Stanford University in human biology with Don Kennedy. In one year, Bearer became Kennedy’s teaching assistant while continuing to teach at San Francisco Conservatory. She then joined John Nicholl’s neurobiology laboratory at Stanford Medical Center, where she made lasting friendships and learned electrophysiology. Deciding that a PhD in neuroscience would be too narrow, she applied and was accepted to the newly founded MD-PhD medical scientist training program at the University of San Francisco, California. More information about her successful and productive scientific career can be found in the BioMedical Science CV posted on her UNM Pathology Faculty website.

Despite the rigors and intensity of a combined MD-PhD career, Bearer continues to compose. A full listing of her compositions is posted in her separate Music CV. While at Brown University from 1991-2001, she held a secondary appointment in the Music Department teaching composition and is now appointed as a full professor in the Music Department at UNM, where she accepts one student per year to study composition.

As intended, her research into the biological basis of brain and neurological diseases is coupled with her deep abiding interest in the mind. She is frequently invited to give public lectures on Music-Mind, some of which can be found on websites such as Vimeo and YouTube. Bearer’s music is serious with historical perspective and novel use of sound and space. Her collaborations with the choreographer, Colleen Cavanaugh, are charged with electronically engineered sounds, while her Magdalene Passion for voices and orchestra is entirely acoustic. A recent piece, Tiger, composed for the Pasadena ProMusica performance in the Science and Art Festival, includes live interactive light projections engineered by John Carpenter, a Los Angeles video artist and architect. In 2013, her works were performed in Boston, Los Angeles, Providence, and Lund, Sweden.

Download Dr. Bearer's Music CV pdf icon

Bearer of Music: Nicholls Trio, Toccata, and Fenestrae

The Nicholls Trio published Score


Listen to the music:

Bearer’s Magdalene Passion

A single movement of this 12-movement oratorio can be heard on the website commemorating the excavation by Brown University Archeologists of the Petra Temple in Jordan, and the celebrating of women archeologists in Breaking Ground.

Other recordings of Bearer’s music are in process and will be accessible subsequently.

Music and Mind lecture, The Art of Systems Biology and Nanoscience, Santa Fe, 2012:

Notable Composition Students:

Frank Russo
Beth Michael
Etienne Rolin
Chris Ramone
Zach Goldberger
Nate Stumpff
Long Nguyen
Kenneth Hume