Sunday, September 4, 2016

Nevilla E. Ottley: On August 31, 2016, my friend, the famed African American conductor, EVERETT LEE turned 100 years old; Terrance McKnight Interviews Everett Lee

(Jet Magazine)

Terrance McKnight, WQXR, New York City: Everett Lee performs the violin in his Tuskeegee Airmen uniform in 1943. (Courtesy of Everett A. Lee III) 

On July 27, 2011 AfriClassical posted:

Nevilla E. Ottley has made comments on this blog post twice, including today, September 4, 2016, when she wrote:

Maestro EVERETT LEE TURNS 100. On August 31, 2016, my friend, the famed African American conductor, EVERETT LEE turned 100 years old, and is still of sound mind, speaking, walking, is computer literate, as he responded to our emails, and also daily sends out inspiiring messages, videos, and pictures. We should all salute and congratulate him.

Nevilla E. Ottley

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 09:00 AM

WQXR New York City

On Aug. 31, Everett Lee, one of the first African-American conductors to lead an integrated Broadway cast, turns 100 years old. Terrance McKnight spoke — and sang — to him on his big day.

We don't stand still," is what Everett Lee said when I asked about his career and how classical music and the profession has evolved during his lifetime. It's a phrase he heard from Leonard Bernstein. In his early career Lee sat in the violin section of a pit orchestra, but his keen musicianship led him to conducting symphonic music and opera. He doesn't make music in public anymore but still sings around the house and listens to weekly broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. He sang melodies from Carmen over the telephone this afternoon. Listen to him talk about Bernstein in the audio below.

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, Lee grew up in Cleveland, studying violin from a young age. While working at a local hotel, he met the Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Artur Rodzinski. Rodzinski had heard that the young Lee was talented and invited him to attend Saturday concerts, eventually serving as a mentor to the aspiring musician.

Lee continued his violin training, attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, before a short stint in the U.S. Army as a Tuskegee Airman. He was released early due to injury, but soon thereafter we was on his way to New York to serve as the concertmaster for the upcoming musical Carmen Jones, a reimagining of Bizet's opera with an all-black cast and a libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II. One day when the conductor was unable to attend a performance, Lee stepped in, launching his conducting career.

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