Everett Zlatoff-Mirsky was born December 29, 1937 in Evanston, Illinois and has spent his entire life and working career in the Chicago area. His father, Alexander, was a well-known artist and his mother, Evelyn Hill, an actress. The family moved to Chicago shortly after Everett’s birth. A product of the Chicago public school system, he attended Nettlehorst Elementary School and Lane Technical High School. At Lane, he was the Concertmaster of the orchestra.
Everett’s first teacher was Raymond Niwa, a faculty member at Chicago Musical College. When Ray left Chicago to join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Everett started studying with Ray’s teacher, Morris Gomberg, at Chicago Musical College, Roosevelt University. Everett studied with Mr. Gomberg all through high school and attended college at Roosevelt to continue his training. He attained his Bachelors degree in Music in 1960 and his Masters degree in Music in 1961. All of Everett’s training as a violinist and musician was done at Chicago Musical College.
Dming Everett’s college years, Everett began working in recording studios. In his freshman year, two Roosevelt University faculty members, Karl Fruh and Harold Kupper, recommended him to a well-known studio contractor, Sol Sobrov. Gradually, over a period of months, Sol began using Everett when regular players were unable to get to the recording studio due to various problems. (The close proximity of Roosevelt University to the recording studios made Everett easy to use as a last minute replacement.) During Everett’s college, Sol used Everett with increasing frequency and eventually that substitute status gave way to being one of the “regulars”. Sol became not only an employer but a real friend to Everett and helped him become well-known to the rest of the “studio crowd.”
Eventually, Everett became the string contractor for Dick Marx and associates and also for ComTrak as well as contracting for other prominent studio producers such as Cliff Colnot, Roy Vombrack, Tom Washington, Terry Fryer and many others.
Also during these early years, when so much R and B recording was emanating from Chicago, Everett was very much in the thick of things. He became the contractor for Chess Records when Charlie Stepany and Marshall Chess were the driving forces at Chess Records and played with the greatest blues artists recording in Chicago during this period. He also played on hundreds of sessions for other contractors and for many different labels – Brunswick, Mercury, etc.
During Everett’s graduate studies at Roosevelt, he became a member of the faulty and subsequently the first violinist of the faculty string quartet. The association continued for the next six years until other playing opportunities were too compelling to ignore and he became a “free lancer.”
Everett’s history would not be complete without mentioning Elliott Golub (Master of Music 1961, Chicago Musical College), who is his best friend ( excepting Janet, Everett’s wife) and close musical collaborator. Elliott and Everett became friends in the 1950s when both were members of the “All City Orchestra.” After Elliott’s return to the Chicago area in the early 1960s, he and Everett resumed their friendship. This close musical and personal friendship has never faltered over the years and has lead to a unique musical partnership formerly known as Chicago Performing Arts, Inc. This group has hired musicians for over 40 years for recording sessions, television commercials, industrial films, shows and ballet companies. Another important aspect of Everett’s work is in the field of contemporary music. He was one of the founding members of the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, which is the oldest “modem music” group in the country. He played both violin and viola for many years in that group. It was at the suggestion of Elliott Golub that Everett became the violist of the string quartet at the Contemporary Chamber Players, the Lexington String Quartet. He recorded many important works as the violist of this Quartet including the Seventh String quartet of Ralph Shapey.
Everett is also one of the founding members of another well-known group: Music of the Baroque. He has played in every season since the group’s inception in 1972 until his retirement in 2003.
The only concerts Everett had ever missed were the occasional conflicts with Lyric Opera’s schedule. In addition to being Lyric Concertmaster, he was also the personnel manager for the orchestra – so Lyric had to come first. The other baroque group that Everett has played for is The Bach Society, Nancy Humphrey, director. He was the solo violinist with that group for many years.
It is interesting that there is a pattern in Everett’s career. It seems to be oriented toward singers. Everett’s Russian born father was an opera singer in his early years in the United States and he had hoped that Everett would follow in his footsteps. His early musical training was all to have supported his career as a singer. After his voice changed, it became apparent that he should go in another direction and that was the violin. What a great choice! It has given him a great musical life playing with great singers and wonderful colleagues all making memorable performances a reality.
Lyric Opera of Chicago came into Everett’s life in 1954. It was Lyric’s first season and when a member of the pit orchestra suddenly became ill, Everett was asked to fill in the vacancy. His high school orchestra director got Everett excused from his classes with the understanding that all work would have to be made up. Being part of an opera orchestra and hearing great singers night after night made a mighty impression on Everett and gave him a direction in which to go. It took a number of years, but eventually Everett auditioned and was appointed Concertmaster of Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1974. In the intervening years he did play at Lyric; but, with the exception of 1960, when Everett played the entire season as a regular member of the orchestra, his playing was as a backstage “banda” member or as an extra in the pit when the orchestra was expanded for a Wagner or Strauss work.
Everett’s duties as Concertmaster and personnel manager continued until his retirement in 2003. Everett once said that “if I am to be remembered, it will be as the Concertmaster of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. It has been the highlight of my career and a pure joy.”
Everett is married to the former Janet Dalbey, who was working at Lyric Opera as an artistic administrator when Everett joined the company in 1974. Janet was Everett’s “boss” since orchestra matters were under her supervision. They were married at the home of Carol Fox (General Manager of Lyric Opera of Chicago) in January 1976.
Everett has two daughters by a previous marriage, Tania Furrer, who lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Blake and daughter Anika, and Laura Bergeron-Mirsky, who lives in Cupertino, California with her husband Bill, son Linden and daughter Marin.
Everett and Janet moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, upon his retirement. They are both very active in the Santa Fe Symphony and other arts organizations.