Nicolai Bergmann, one of Japan’s most recognizable contemporary floral designers, is one of the headlining guests at this year’s Aurora Foundation Awards Luncheon on Oct. 27. (JUNKO YOSHIDA/Rafu Shimpo)

The Aurora Japanese Language Scholarship Foundation will hold its annual awards luncheon and auction on Oct. 27, at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

During the event, the 2019 recipients will be announced for the JLS Scholarship and the Aurora Challenge Grant, as well at the All USA High School Japanese Language Speech Contest winner.

Makiko Hirata has been dubbed “Dr. Pianist,” due to her work to promote music as a healing force.

Headlining the day will be performances by a pair of international stars, pianist Makiko Hirata and contemporary floral designer Nicolai Berg­mann.

A renowned piano virtuoso and recording art­ist, Hirata is known as “Dr. Pianist,” through her mission to promote music and musicians as healing agents in this world.

As a consultant to Houston Methodist Hospital’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, she collabo­rates with researchers to quantify the benefit of music. Believing in the power of music to encour­age empathy, she serves as a U.S.-Japan Leadership Program’s Scott M. Johnson Fellow.

Hirata is currently authoring a book about her triumph over a 15-year battle against stage fright, stereotypes, and sexual harassment as a young Japanese pianist navigating the classical music industry.

Originally from Copenhagen, Bergmann is one of Japan’s most recognizable artists, and his work there has given floristry a new dimension, pushing it further into the fashion and design worlds.

His exceptional eye for color, form, and balance has allowed him to collaborate on a range of design projects with some of the world’s most prominent design houses. His work unites the floral design principles of Europe with Japanese sensitivity to detail and fine craftsmanship, while embodying a distinctly Scandinavian style.

“My arrangements draw influence from Japanese culture, especially vintage kimono and byobu fold­ing screens,” Bergmann told The Rafu. “My style was Western, but eventually, I combined elements of Japanese culture, arranging flowers in Japanese lacquer vases called urushi.”

Registration, tea ceremony and silent auction begin at 11 a.m., with the program commencing at noon. Tickets are $200 per seat, $2,000 per table. More information can be found at


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