Harpist Emily Melendes finds artistic inspiration in both orchestral and solo performance, and has performed under the baton of numerous conductors including Alan Gilbert, Tan Dun, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Matthias Pintscher, in addition to competing in various solo competitions and winning the national Anne Adams Award. Praised for her precision and expansive sound, Emily has enjoyed performing with leading orchestras around the country including the New York Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. Emily holds her Bachelor’s of Music from The University of Texas at Austin studying under Delaine Leonard, her first Master’s from The Juilliard School under tutelage of Nancy Allen, and a second Master’s degree in orchestral curatorial studies from Bard College where she held the position of principal harp in The Orchestra Now under Leon Botstein.
A frequent performer at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and throughout the Midwest, Emily is equally at home in both large venues and more intimate settings. A well-versed chamber musician, Emily enjoys performing with Milwaukee’s Present Music and enjoyed a decade of presenting chamber concerts with the former Breckenridge Music Festival as their principal harpist, bringing small ensembles directly into patron homes. Emily believes in increased accessibility to live classical music, and has engaged in many educational outreach initiatives as well as hosted small performances at nursing homes and her local hospital.
At age three Emily began asking to play the harp, but as this request perplexed her parents, she started on piano at age six and then began the harp at eight with harpist Geraldine Elliott. To further satiate her curiosity, Emily also began studying the flute and violin. Her high school education culminated in concerto performances of the Debussy Dances and the first movement of the Ginastera harp concerto and cemented her choice to pursue playing the harp as a career.