Violinist Melissa White Named Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Joyce C. Willis Fellow Through the 2023-2024 Season
Hartford Symphony Orchestra is proud to announce violinist Melissa White as the Joyce C. Willis Fellow through the 2023-2024 season, made possible through a generous grant from The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation.
In late 2020, The Roberts Foundation announced the Joyce C. Willis Fund for Excellence and Equity in the Arts, a visionary initiative to support Black artists. In addition to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Stage and the Amistad Center were also granted gifts from the Roberts Foundation. The program is named in honor of Joyce C. Willis, a former Roberts Foundation board member, founding member and past board president of The Amistad Center, board member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and ardent supporter of Hartford Stage. Willis, who retired from The Hartford Financial Services Group as Vice President of Corporate Communications in 2005, passed away in June 2020.
American violinist Melissa White has enchanted audiences and critics around the world as both a soloist and a chamber musician. Her February 2020 performance with the National Philharmonic was deemed “absolutely breathtaking” by Maryland Theatre Guide critic Katie Gaab, who cited the “grace, precision, and warmth” of her playing in Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Reviewing the same concert for The Washington Post, Matthew Guerrieri called her “an excellent advocate, prioritizing ease and fluency over intensity, suiting the music’s lyric and episodic nature.”
As the Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Melissa will perform as a soloist alongside the orchestra in two Masterworks Concerts and in solo recital in partnership with the Garmany Chamber Music Series at The Hartt School. Melissa will host panel discussions on pertinent topics in the arts and will work closely with string students from underserved communities in the region. She will debut as soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic in the 2023-2024 season, in addition to appearances with the Charlotte Symphony, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s an honor to be the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-2024 Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence. I’m looking forward to getting to know the Hartford community, engaging with local students, and performing meaningful concerts with the HSO,” said Melissa.
"Twenty years ago, The Roberts Foundation funded HSO's Martin Luther King concerts at First Cathedral in Bloomfield," said Lisa M. Curran, executive director of The Roberts Foundation. "One of those concerts featured a teenage Melissa White. We are delighted to welcome her back to Hartford and know she will make a significant impact on audiences next season."
In addition to her musical career, Melissa has enjoyed practicing various styles of yoga for more than a decade, and completed training in both Vinyasa and Ashtanga at Sampoorna Yoga School in Goa, India. She is the co-founder of Intermission, a groundbreaking program that unites body, mind, breath, and music-making through yoga and meditation; the program comprises sessions for students and retreats for professionals. She will include her practice into her residency at the HSO.
Melissa is represented worldwide by Dinin Arts Management & Consulting. She is incredibly grateful to be playing a c1780 Ferdinando Gagliano violin, currently on loan from Strumenti.
For more information on Melissa White, visit melissawhiteviolin.com.
Melissa joins the previously announced Joyce C. Willis Artists in Residence Christopher D. Betts at Hartford Stage and Merik Goma at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, who both have three-year engagements with their respective organization.
“We are fortunate to continue to honor the legacy of Joyce C. Willis with our second Artist in Residence at the HSO, Melissa White. Her enthusiasm and passion for her craft engages and excites audiences around the world and we are looking forward to celebrating the HSO’s 80th season with Melissa,” said Steve Collins, President & CEO of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
About the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The mission of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is to enrich lives and community through great music. The HSO is Connecticut’s premier musical organization, the second largest orchestra in New England, and widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan as its tenth music director in January 2011; she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. The HSO captivates and inspires audiences of all ages by presenting more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, Sunday Serenades, Discovery Concerts, Symphony in Schools, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, and more. The HSO aims to deliver uniquely powerful and emotional experiences that lift and transform the spirit, and to give back and help create vibrant communities in the Greater Hartford area.