Celebrating Women: Symphony Conductor Overcomes Cancer

Someone You Should Know

There’s a big gender disparity in the world of classical music.

A study in 2016 found only 11 percent of working orchestral conductors in America are women.

Bismarck is home to one of them: Dr. Beverly Everett.

“Bloom where you’re planted. Do something wonderful where you are.”

Those are words that Everett has taken to heart in the 11 years since she was planted in the garden of the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra.

“I hate to start naming names because I’ll leave someone out, but the musicians in our orchestra,” she says, “give 100 percent.”

Dr. Everett says her job is to find ways to make music — sometimes centuries old — leap off the page.

Take, for instance, a piece from their upcoming concert: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony — written at a time of great crisis for the composer. “He was almost completely deaf by the time he wrote it,” Everett explains.

And yet the music jumps from a minor key to a joyful major sound, even in the face of his personal battles. “This music shows how you can overcome that.”

That lesson in perseverance rings especially true for Beverly now: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 5th,” she says.

Her prognosis is good — she had surgery in January, and just completed radiation treatment — but she says the journey through cancer changed her relationship with music.

“Determination! I guess that’s the word I’m looking for,” she says. “A determination to dig even deeper into that music and what it can say and how it can lift people up.”

Dr. Everett hopes her story will serve as a reminder that cancer doesn’t discriminate. “People see you on the podium,” she says. “They see you moving your arms around. They see you running down the path, and they think, ‘Oh she must be super healthy.’ But this can happen to anybody, at any time.”

And she hopes people of all walks of life will consider the healing power of music. “So many people let us know after concerts that it made them feel better. That it made them happy. That it feeds their soul.”

You can hear the Bismarck Mandan Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and more, this weekend at the Belle Mehus Auditorium.

Click here to learn more about the concert, and visit this website to reserve tickets.

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