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Biography

American violinist Melissa White has enchanted audiences around the world as both a soloist and a chamber musician. A first-prize laureate in the Sphinx Competition, Ms. White has received critical acclaim for solo performances with some of America’s leading ensembles, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Colorado, Detroit, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. In April 2016 she served as interim concertmaster in performances and recordings of the Louisville Orchestra. Internationally, she has appeared as soloist with Poland’s Fillharmonia Dolnoslaska; with the Colombian Youth Orchestra in a tour of that country; and as a recitalist in Baku, Azerbaijian. In the 2017-18 season Ms. White makes her solo debut with the National Philharmonic (North Bethesda, Maryland) performing the Brahms Violin Concerto, and returns to the Chicago Sinfonietta, where she will partner with fellow Sphinx Laureate Ifetayo Ali-Landing in Saint-Saëns’s La muse et le poète for violin, cello and orchestra.

Ms. White is a founding member of New York-based Harlem Quartet, where since 2006 her passion and artistry have contributed to performances that have been hailed for their “panache” (The New York Times) and for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent” (Cincinnati Enquirer). Together with Harlem Quartet she has worked with such classical-music luminaries as Itzhak Perlman, Ida Kavakian, Paul Katz, and Anthony McGill; appeared in many of the country’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, the White House, and the Kennedy Center; and performed in Europe, Africa, Japan, and the U.K., where in 2017 the quartet begins a three-year residency with London’s Royal College of Music. Ms. White’s passion for chamber music recently expanded to sharing the stage with the conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra during the famed ensemble’s tour of Japan.

Always looking to expand musical boundaries, Ms. White has partnered with such leading jazz musicians as pianist/composer Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, and vibraphonist Gary Burton. Following an extended international tour with Corea and Burton, Harlem Quartet collaborated with the duo in recording “Hothouse,” a CD that garnered three Grammies in 2013 including a Best Instrumental Composition award for Corea’s “Mozart Goes Dancing.”

In addition to her musical role with Harlem Quartet, Ms. White serves as the ensemble’s in-house grant writer. In this capacity, she has written several successful grants, including a Cultural Connections Artist-in-Residence grant from James Madison University and a 2016 Guarneri String Quartet grant from Chamber Music America; the latter allowed Harlem Quartet to participate in an extended performance and educational residency in Mobile, Alabama that included a close partnership with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.

A native of Michigan, Ms. White holds performance degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and New England Conservatory, where her teachers included Jaime Laredo, Ida Kavafian, Donald Weilerstein, and Miriam Fried. Her current instrument, “Matilda,” was commissioned as part of a Sphinx MPower Artist Grant in 2014 by the American violin maker Ryan Soltis. When she doesn’t have a violin in her hands, Ms. White is an advanced practitioner of Bikram yoga, and is co-founder and artistic director of Intermission, a new program that combines yoga and music. She also enjoys taking photos while exploring the many places around the world that her music has allowed her to visit.

June 2017

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