Saluting Everett Lee at 101, trailblazing violinist and conductor from W. Virginia

Posted on: September 11, 2017

“At the age of 101, Wheeling native and musical prodigy Everett Lee has been rediscovered and honored by residents of his hometown,” writes Linda Comins in Sunday’s (9/10) Intelligencer (Wheeling, W.V.). “Lee, who now lives in Sweden, celebrated his 101st birthday on Aug. 31. To mark the occasion and recognize Lee’s trail-blazing legacy, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott declared Aug. 31 as Everett Lee Day in the city…. Born in Wheeling on Aug. 31, 1916, Lee was the first African American to conduct a major Broadway production…. Public recognition in his hometown faded in recent decades.… He attended the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1943, he was … concertmaster for the musical, ‘Carmen Jones,’ on Broadway…. Lee was the first African American to lead an all-white orchestra on Broadway when he conducted [Leonard] Bernstein’s ‘On the Town’ in 1945. In 1946, frustrated by limited opportunities, Lee started the Cosmopolitan Symphony Society, an interracial, all-inclusive orchestra in New York City…. [He] conducted the Munchener opera house in Germany for 10 years. In 1962, he moved to Sweden, where he served as conductor and musical director of Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra for 13 years.” He guest conducted several U.S. orchestras in the 1970s, and conducted the Louisville Orchestra in 2005.

Posted September 11, 2017