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Some 'Plaid' on the 'Pipes': BSO's Everett to play the pipe organ in special performance at First Lutheran

Beverly Everett will host a pipe organ recital, titled “Plaid Pipes,” on Nov. 4 at First Lutheran Church in honor of the Bemidji Symphony’s 80th season. Submitted photo.

BEMIDJI—Bemidji Symphony Orchestra Maestra Beverly Everett will step off the podium and sit at the new Casavant Frères pipe organ at First Lutheran Church for a special "Plaid Pipes" recital at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4.

The program is in honor of the symphony's 80th season, which kicked off earlier this month. It is billed as a celebration of the Bemidji community and its support of music. The 90-minute recital will be followed by a dinner with wine and dessert at the Hampton Inn & Suites.

Everett, who is in her 14th year with the BSO, said her recital selections are designed to show off the power and features of the one-year-old Casavant.

"I'm trying to use everything on that organ," she said.

Everett began taking piano lessons at age 6 and studied with the same teacher, Wilma Dorsey, through high school in Waxahachie, Texas. She took organ lessons from her church's organist starting at age 12. She went on to earn a scholarship to major in organ at Baylor University, where she also earned a degree in conducting. She earned her doctorate at Iowa University.

Does she prefer performing to conducting?

"I honestly think they're equal amounts of joy and I'm just happy to do whichever one I'm doing at the time," she said. "I just feel really blessed to have opportunities to do both and to share all the great music that's out there."

The recital will begin with a prelude and fugue by Bach, followed by three church songs that have special meaning to Everett. The arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me" was done by Albert Travis, who was Everett's mentor when she was in high school. "Church in the Wildwood" was arranged by Joyce Jones, who was Everett's organ professor at Baylor University. "What a Friend we Have in Jesus" was arranged by William Bolcom from the University of Michigan, whose interpretation makes the organ sound like it's at an African-American church service, Everett said, "with lots of vibrato and kind of a Hammond sound. It's very gospelly sounding, if 'gospelly' is a word."

The last two pieces before intermission are connected to St. Peter. Everett visited Rome and toured St. Peter's Basilica this past summer. "Toccata per l'Elevazione" was composed by Girolamo Frescobaldi, who was the organist at St. Peter's in the 15th century. "Tu es Petra" by Henry Mulet is a piece that Everett first played when she was in junior high school.

The second half of the program will begin with pieces that have a connection to the year 1918.

"Elegie" by Hurbert Parry was written to commemorate the composer's friends who were lost in World War I. "Silent Night" was premiered on Christmas Eve 1918 during the war. ""Somewhere" by Leonard Bernstein celebrates the composer's 100th birthday.

"I am ending with probably my favorite piece of organ music," Everett said of "Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain" by Maurice Duruflé. "He wrote this for one of his friends who was killed in World War I. His friend was a messenger on a motorcycle. His friend, Jehan Alain, was also a composer, so this piece takes themes from compositions Alain himself wrote and then puts them together for this marvelous prelude and fugue. I've been playing it for a long time."

The orchestra also will welcome special guest Michael Barone, host and senior executive producer of Pipedreams, a nationally distributed weekly radio program exploring the art of the pipe organ. Involved with the pipe organ for more than 50 years, Barone is nationally recognized for his outstanding contributions to the world of organ music. Attendees will be able to visit with Barone.

If you go:

What: "Plaid Pipes" organ recital

When: 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: First Lutheran Church, 900 Bemidji Ave. N., with dinner following at Hampton Inn & Suites

Cost: $80 ticket includes recital, dinner, wine and dessert. RSVP requested by Oct. 31. Tickets may be ordered online at BemidjiSymphony.org or by mail (send names of attendees, along with meal choice (beef, chicken, or stuffed squash) and payment of $80 per attendee to: Bemidji Symphony, Box 3136, Bemidji, MN 56619.