Wabash Pianist, Adjunct to Participate in Van Cliburn Program

by Howard W. Hewitt

April 27, 2005

Cheryl Everett’s years of practice and study are paying off with a coveted spot in 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition May 20-June 5 at Fort Worth, Texas.

Everett, an adjunct professor at Wabash and accompanist, will be one of 12 teacher-participants in the prestigious event.

Everett at the piano in Salter Hall.

"Every morning there is a two-hour master class," Everett explained. "Each teacher is allotted 30 minutes and you play your repertoire in front of the class – those 12 performers. You receive a lesson in front of the class. So basically you have to toughen up your skin a little bit and work with the teacher. The honor is at the end of the clinic the teachers are presented in a recital."

Everett has been working as a Wabash accompanist and Glee Club pianist for eight years. She has served as an adjunct for two years working privately with eight students this year on the piano.

She believes the Van Cliburn experience will strengthen her ability to teach.

"If you have students taking music for credit, they are required to play in a student recital and they must play a jury for the Department faculty. Those are basically solo performances.

"I feel strongly that there are certain things you can only convey to that student if you have done it yourself – whether it’s about musicianship or performance. It’s not only knowing the music, but performing under stress.

"I find that talking with other colleagues and what they’re doing with their students across the country is very helpful. You can teach the C major scale 50 times, but you have to have a big bag of tricks to apply it to the individual."

Everett is sure to pick up some tricks spending time at one of the world’s most prestigious competitions. The 12 teachers will watch the 35 young finalists in the afternoons go through their rigorous schedule and competition.

Van Cliburn during 2003 Kennedy Center Honors

The Van Cliburn competition is in its 12th year. The competition will have 19 women and 16 men. It’s the first time in the competition’s history there have been more female competitors than men. Van Cliburn has been hailed as one of the greatest pianists in the history of music. The Louisiana native rose to fame with his historic 1958 victory in the first Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.

Van Cliburn has performed for royalty, and world leaders around the globe. He has performed for every U.S. president since Harry Truman.

Everett has performed around the world and studied with some of this country’s great pianists. After short stints at DePauw and Indiana University, she spent 12 years working with Dorothy Munger, who was the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s pianist for 32 years. Munger was a student of Russian great Joseph Levine, who taught at the Julliard School of Music. Everett studies with Dr. Louis Nagel from the University of Michigan.

Everett, born and raised in Crawfordsville, was attracted to Munger and Nagel because of their unique sound. "One of my highlights in my lessons with both teachers was when they would sit down and play," she said. "Students are inspired by the sound of music. They’re inspired by their teacher. We live in a society where everything competes for the student’s time. Lessons have to be offered in such a way that the lesson is so exciting and the camaraderie with the teacher is great."

Hewitt is Wabash College Director of New Media and Web Editor.

In photos:

Above right: Everett at the piano in Salter Hall.

Lower left: Van Cliburn during 2003 Kennedy Center Honors.

Photos by Wabash sophomore Brock Johnson.


For more information see:

Wabash College • P.O. Box 352 • Crawfordsville, IN 47933 • 765.361.6100