Bemidji Symphony director accepts North Dakota position
Beverly Everett, director of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, was headed to Bismarck, N.D., Thursday for a press conference. Officials of the Bismarck Symphony Orchestra announced Everett as their new conductor starting in June. However, Everett s...
Beverly Everett, director of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, was headed to Bismarck, N.D., Thursday for a press conference.
Officials of the Bismarck Symphony Orchestra announced Everett as their new conductor starting in June. However, Everett said she will continue as conductor for the Bemidji Symphony and already has the 2009-10 program completed.
"I'm officially under contract with Bemidji until July 2009," she said. "My intent is to keep both jobs and stay in Bemidji after that. A lot of conductors have two, if not three, orchestras."
Everett said Bismarck's search committee members understood that she planned to stay in Bemidji when she auditioned.
She said she plans to maintain her apartment in Bemidji and find a place to stay in Bismarck when she works with that orchestra. She is looking forward to helping Bismarck's orchestra grow because, although the city of more than 55,000 is much bigger than Bemidji, the orchestra is smaller, especially the string section, she said.
"It'll be a fun place to work," Everett said. "I'm happy about the new opportunity."
"From my own perspective, I think it's great for Beverly," said Del Lyren, Bemidji Symphony board member. "I don't think it will affect her work here in Bemidji. I think it will make her a stronger conductor."
Board Chairwoman Jo Hanko agreed. "The board's really supportive," she said. "We knew she was a candidate. We're really excited for her. I think Bismarck's gaining a wonderful conductor."
When Everett signed her first contract with the Bemidji Symphony four years ago, the orchestra met for rehearsals once a week. She changed the protocol so that the musicians must audition to be accepted into the orchestra. She also changed the rehearsal schedule. Under her leadership, the musicians receive copies of their music ahead of each concert and are expected to learn their parts on their own before an intense series of rehearsals a few weeks before the concert.
Everett said Bismarck is still on the weekly rehearsal schedule, but she plans to follow the pattern she instituted in Bemidji. People might be a little afraid of change, she said, but, in Bemidji at least, none of the orchestra members would want to return to the old method of operation.
"They like the way they sound, and part of that is having intense rehearsals," she said.
Everett said she plans to consult with her colleagues in the orchestra world about how to best set up schedules for two orchestras. Luckily, only one performance this year, the Nov. 23 concert with Andre Watts, conflicts with Bismarck's schedule, Everett said. She said she will find a substitute conductor for Bismarck that day.
Everett was among about 100 applicants for the Bismarck position and one of three conductors on the short list asked to audition last May. It was an emotional time for her, she said, because her aunt had just died and she had to miss the funeral to attend the audition. She said her family was supportive and said her aunt would have wanted her to go for the opportunity.
"That kind of made it extra special," Everett said. "I just thought of her being the loudest applauder at the time."
Everett said she knew she performed well on the podium, but the interview process also required meeting people, attending parties and letting prospective employers and orchestra members get to know her personality. Socializing was difficult, she said, but her friends in Bemidji kept in touch with her, encouraging and making sure she was coping. Bemidji Symphony members also made a memorial donation in her aunt's honor to the Robert F. Kennedy Speak the Truth to Power human rights fund. Everett said she has Bemidji friends who are like family to her.
The Bismarck Symphony Orchestra will pay Everett $35,000 annually plus health benefits. She earns $25,000 for her work with the Bemidji Symphony, but no benefits.
"I'm finally going to live above the poverty line since I finished my doctorate," she said with a smile.