violin | Worldwide
April 16, 2019
The Dark Side of White: Violinist Tunes Up the Horror in New Jordan Peele Thriller
Kevin Michael Murphy

As an orchestral soloist and a member of the highly acclaimed Harlem Quartet, Melissa White has thrilled concert audiences on five continents with the sound of her violin. Now the sound of that violin is bringing a different kind of thrill to audiences well outside the concert hall: as the accompaniment to horror in the new psychological thriller Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele. White’s playing figures prominently in the soundtrack by African American composer Michael Abels, whom Peele had discovered through a YouTube video of Harlem Quartet performing his Urban Legends for string quartet and orchestra. Impressed by that work, Peele recruited Abels to score his 2017 horror film Get Out; for their second collaboration, Us, he asked the composer for creepy effects that could be rendered by a good violin soloist. Abels chose White, whose playing he had witnessed not only in Urban Legends but in another composition of his for string quartet and orchestra, Delights and Dances, which Harlem Quartet had both performed and recorded.

White, a native of Lansing, Michigan now living in Chicago, related her experience as a soundtrack artist to Lawrence Cosentino of the Lansing CityPulse, her hometown newspaper. His April 11 article, “Lansing’s Melissa White curdles the blood in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us,’ ” can be found HERE.

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