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    Meell, Melissa

    Cellist who graduated from Manhattan School of Music and promptly started up the all-female Primavera Quartet, the first of its ilk.  Their inaugural concert was at Lincoln Center, no less, and they won the Naumburg chamber music award, the first of two Ms. Meell would win.  (She later won one with the Mannes Trio, a group that grew out of the Mannes College of Music.) 


    Melissa was only 19 years old when the Primavera Quartet was tapped to tour with Frank Sinatra, a tour that took them to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.  (She would later record with Sinatra on his 1979 boxed set, Trilogy.) 


    Eventually, she joined the aforementioned Mannes Trio and appropriately they gave a concert on 28th June 1989 under the umbrella of the Naumburg Foundation, playing Mozart’s Trio, K. 502.  Mozart would become a staple in Meell’s repertoire.  Right around the turn of the decade, she joined the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and has been with them ever since. 


    It has not, however, prevented her from moonlighting with the New York Philomusica, as well as carving out a nifty career for herself as a session musician.  In 1989, she performed on the soundtrack of the Spike Lee film, Do the Right Thing, and would go on to do the same on the scores for Jungle Fever and Crooklyn. 


    She was also very busy in the studios with New York Philomusica, recording music of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, which would later pop up on CD.  These recordings comprise Beethoven’s Quintet in E flat major and Septet in E flat major, Brahms’ Trio in A minor and Quartet in G minor, and Mozart’s String Quintet in G minor, Masonic Funeral Music, and Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, featuring Robert Levin on the keys.  All of these recordings are available on New York Philomusica’s own label. 


    She is also a member of the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music and has made regular appearances in the Armstrong Chamber Concerts, which have been going on since 1983, and with Bargemusic, which performs on the scenic Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn, New York.  If you were there on 10th July 1998, you got a chance to hear the rarely performed Cello Quintet of Alexander Glazunov. 


    If not, you have myriad opportunities to hear Melissa Meell, with and without the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.  A good introduction to them might be either one of their recordings of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the one they did with Gil Shaham in 1995, or the more recent one they did with Sarah Chang. 


    The 1990s and 2000s have been dotted with Melissa Meell recordings.  She was part of Gershwin’s World with Herbie Hancock in 1998, and followed that up by appearing on Carla Lother’s Ephemera and There’ll Be Another Song:  The Peggy Lee Songbook, in 1999.  In 2000, she helped accompany pianist John Simon on Hoagyland and also appeared on another Simon project, Songs of Hoagy Carmichael. 


    On 10th October 2001, she performed in concert with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Lafayette College, one of their regular venues, in a program that featured Mozart’s Overture to Cosi fan tutti, Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 in C major, and Robert Schumann’s Concerto for Cello in A minor, on which Melissa soloed.  That same year found Melissa back in the recording studio, as well, collaborating on Songs I Heard by Harry Connick, JR. and Peggy Lee:  Songwriter. 


    Never one to pigeonhole herself into any one genre, Melissa also appears on recordings as divergent as Diary of Alicia Keys and Garrison Keillor’s Songs of the Cat.  She teamed up with Hubert Laws in 2005 on Hubert Laws Plays Bach for Barone and Baker, and then went on a good run of more film work on the soundtracks of The Departed, The Brave One, The Good Shepherd, and Perfect Stranger.  In 2007, she indulged in some nostalgia on John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles. 


    On 18th January 2008, she performed in a Brooklyn Chamber Music Society concert which featured Beethoven’s String Trio No. 2, Op. 9, Alfred Schnittke’s String Trio, and Erwin Schuhoff’s Duo for Cello and Violin.  Then, on 8th May of the same year, she and the rest of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra re-united with Sarah Chang for a concert at the State Theatre of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. 


    In the field of music education, Melissa has served on the faculties of Juilliard and Baruch College in Manhattan.


    Frank Sinatra recordings

    That's What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O'Kun)

    Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)


    Theme from "New York, New York" (Fred Ebb/John Kander)

    Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)



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    38. http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Lee/Lee_cds.html
    39. http://www.naminorito.com/ars/word/Mary+Wooten/1.html
    40. http://sudo.3.pro.tok2.com/Quest/home/buylist/200611.html











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