Home > Jazz, Music, OFA Updates > Tom Everett to Retire from Harvard University

Tom Everett to Retire from Harvard University

The Office for the Arts at Harvard and Harvard’s Department of Music announced today that Thomas G. Everett, Director of Harvard Bands since 1971, will retire February 15, 2013. Everett has also served at Harvard as Associate of the Department of Music, Lecturer on Afro-American Studies and on Music, and Jazz Advisor to the Office for the Arts at Harvard. In addition to his duties as Director of Harvard Bands—which include the University Band, Harvard Wind Ensemble and Harvard Jazz Bands—Everett has taught, conducted and performed the work of many modern and contemporary music masters and, for over four decades, guided and mentored generations of Harvard musicians and student leaders.

Tom Everett (photo by Eric Antoniou)

“Tom Everett’s extraordinary musicianship, his dedication to teaching and scholarship, and depth of knowledge—especially regarding 20th century American composers and artists of the jazz tradition—connected our students and faculty to many of the field’s greatest musical innovators,” said Jack Megan, Director of the Office for the Arts. “His is an extraordinary and lasting legacy, and Harvard musicians are infinitely richer for his contributions.”

“In the jazz realm Tom Everett has educated our students about the music’s evolution, and led the college’s jazz ensembles through four decades, which has inspired a sea change that has brought scholars in jazz history to our faculty, as well as jazz harmony and improvisation courses to our regular curriculum,” said Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music. “We are grateful that his rare vision helped forge and nurture a vibrant music scene at Harvard.”

Tom Everett was appointed Director of Bands at Harvard University in 1971. Overseeing the student-managed University Band, his earliest responsibilities were to work with the Band on their famed halftime show presentations at Harvard football games. The Band is one of Harvard’s busiest and most visible organizations, supporting Harvard athletics as well as spirited Harvard songs for commencements, diplomatic greetings and parades. He has also conducted ceremonial music over the years for the Development Office, President’s Office, Alumni Association and University Marshal’s office.

His prodigious creativity and scholarship led Everett to bring the field of jazz to Harvard single-handedly, establishing jazz programs and teaching the first jazz course for academic credit through the Harvard Extension School in 1973, and the first for Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences beginning in 1978. His course “The Jazz Tradition” was crossed-listed in the Departments of Music and African and African American Studies, and during its three-years included guest lecturers Teddy Wilson, David Liebman, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Joe Williams, Zoot Sims, Doc Cheatham, Lee Konitz, Dave Brubeck and Sabby Lewis.

Tom Everett (right) with composer/saxophonist Steve Lacy at Sanders Theatre, April 1994 (Paula Lerner photo).

Everett created two undergraduate jazz bands and, under the co-auspices of the Office for the Arts, developed a concept of retrospective concerts that reflect a nuanced overview of leading artists’careers, a relatively new approach to honoring and documenting their contributions to American music. According to the Boston Globe in 2000, “Harvard University Director of Bands Tom Everett has been staging annual repertory events with guest artists for nearly three decades that often put the pros to shame in terms of conceptual ingenuity.” The list of eminent jazz artists that Everett invited to the University includes Benny Carter, Hank Jones, Illinois Jacquet, Jim Hall, Carla Bley, Bill Evans, Max Roach, John Lewis, Eddie Palmieri, Jon Hendricks, Steve Lacy, Randy Weston, Mario Bauza, and Benny Golson. Those of extraordinary life-long achievement were named, at Everett’s urging, “Harvard University Jazz Masters in Residence.” These annual residencies honor composers and performers and connect them to students and the broader public through clinics, rehearsals, public conversations and concerts that often include commissioned works.

Such works commissioned by the Jazz Bands and Office for the Arts—in addition to correspondence, concert programs and other materials associated with visiting artists’ residencies—are now included in the “Tom Everett Collection of Jazz Manuscripts” housed in the Department of Music’s Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. Also notable are former members of Everett’s jazz bands enjoying successful and critically acclaimed careers in music after graduating from Harvard, including Joshua Redman ’91, Don Braden ’85, Fred Ho ’79, Anton Schwartz ’89, Aaron Goldberg ’96, Sara Lazarus ’84, Miles Okazaki ’97 and Jerome Harris ’73. “Tom Everett has been a beloved colleague ever since I arrived at Harvard in 2001,” said Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music. “For over forty years he has dedicated himself to educating Harvard undergraduates about the joys and beauties of jazz, ensuring that students and the broader community had an opportunity to interact with and be inspired by living leaders of the tradition.”

Everett’s focus on American musical literature and practice at Harvard also greatly informed his work with the Harvard Wind Ensemble, which he revived during the 1970s and brought under the auspices of the Harvard University Band (the Wind Ensemble is now led by Mark Olson, Assistant Director of Harvard Bands). Premiering works by contemporary composers Gordon Jacob, Daniel Pinkham ’43, Peter Schickele (aka P.D.Q. Bach), Henry Brant, Elliott Schwartz, Gunther Schuller and Harvard professors Leon Kirchner (Emeritus) and Ivan Tcherepnin ’64, M’69, among others, the Wind Ensemble is another example of Everett’s passion for integrating important genres and repertoires in Harvard students’ musical education, which were not otherwise offered until more recent years. All of these performance initiatives weave educational themes throughout the rehearsal process and concert programs, providing important historical insight for students, audiences, and often the visiting and commissioned artists themselves.

Tom Everett (second from left) with, left to right, Jeff Wu '82, Anton Schwartz '89, Sara Lazarus '84 and Don Braden '85, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Harvard Jazz Bands, April 2002 (Joey Libby photo).

In 1972, with support of the Harvard Summer School, Everett established the Harvard Summer Pops Band, which is open without audition to all brass, woodwind, and percussion players from Cambridge, Harvard, and the Greater Boston area, regardless of age or experience. His deep and abiding interest in the music of composer Leroy Anderson ’29 has been a mainstay of the repertoire of the Pops Band, as well as that of the Harvard Wind Ensemble and Harvard University Band.

Everett was an early champion for the advancement of the bass trombone and its literature. His Annotated Guide to Bass Trombone Literature (first edition published in 1973) is the accepted resource for bass trombone repertoire. “His activities…are significant in the development of further research in the field and in the development of new performance repertoire,” wrote Christopher Gassler in his 2002 doctoral dissertation on Everett. As a trombone soloist, Everett has appeared at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and performed with the Bolshoi Ballet, Boston Ballet, Boston Pops, and Boston Opera orchestras, the Cantata Singers, and the jazz bands of Clark Terry, Phil Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Ray Charles. He conducted on J.J. Johnson’s 1996 CD, “The Brass Orchestra” (Verve), which was nominated for three Grammy Awards. He has served as assistant to jazz composer/historians André Hodeir and John Lewis, and been published in The Instrumentalist, Black Perspectives in Music, Cadence, Journal of Jazz Studies, The Music Educators National Journal, Brass Bulletin, The College Band Directors’ National Association Journal, The Journal of the International Trombone Association, and Massachusetts Music News. He was an assistant editor for the publications The Composer and Brass World.

A charter member of the International Association of Jazz Educators, Everett is also founder and first president of the International Trombone Association and past president of the New England College Band Association. As founder and director of Boston’s Share a Composer Program, he organized Boston/Cambridge residencies for American composers Leslie Bassett, Karel Husa, Ulysses Kay, Vincent Persichetti, Robert Starer, Vivian Fine and Lucas Foss. In addition to Harvard, he has taught at the New England Conservatory, Brown University, the International Trombone Workshop, and has given master classes at Indiana University, University of Northern Illinois, University of Miami, University of South Florida, Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), the Norwegian Trombone Association (Oslo) and the Franz Liszt Academy (Budapest). He has served as a panelist for the New England Foundation for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council, and is founder/coordinator of the Harvard Club of Boston’s Annual Horblit Jazz Combo Competition.

Tom Everett holds degrees from Ithaca College and studied trombone privately with Emory Remington (Eastman School of Music) and Roger Smith (Juilliard School of Music and principal trombonist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra). Receipt of the Hungarian “Artisjus” award in 1988 resulted in his conducting a program of American Music live over Hungarian National Radio. In 2008 he was the recipient of the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award from Harvard, which honors individuals nationally or internationally who reflect the values and dedication to music and arts education of the late Professor Vosgerchian, Walter W. Naumberg Professor of Music Emerita in the Department of Music.

Tom Everett conducts the Harvard Alumni Jazz Band at Sanders Theatre, April 2007 (Eric Antoniou photo).

Everett’s future plans include travel with his wife Betsy and writing articles illuminating the unique voices and contributions of underappreciated jazz trombonists Frank Rehak, Willie Dennis, and Jimmy Knepper, as well as documenting his longtime fascination with the music of Henry Brant, Harry Partch, Henry Cowell, Alec Wilder and Conlon Nancarrow, a quintet of mid-twentieth century American maverick composers. His Harvard career will be celebrated in various ways at the University, including a Jazz Bands concert dedicated to him on Saturday April 13, 2013 (8 pm, Sanders Theatre). Appropriately, this event will feature two of his protégés as guest artists: Joshua Redman ’91 and Don Braden ’85. All are welcome.

Mark Olson, Assistant Director of Bands, will serve as Acting Director while a Director search is undertaken. Saxophonist/composer Don Braden will continue to serve as Guest Conductor for the Monday Jazz Band.

Link to the article in the Harvard Magazine “Band Director Tom Everett Steps Down

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