When violinist Melissa White first performed on From the Top in May of 2001, she was 16 and a recent winner of the Sphinx Competition. She went on to the Curtis Institute, received her master's at New England Conservatory, and appeared as a soloist with many of the nation's leading orchestras. Now at the age of 25, she tours the country with one of the nation's hottest young chamber groups, the Harlem Quartet.
But the road to being a professional musician isn't always smooth, even for the exceptionally talented. Like many kids who play music, Melissa went through a period where she questioned whether or not she wanted to stick with it. "I'd go up to my room to practice, and I'd find I didn't have much motivation and it wasn't fun anymore," she recalls.
Melissa stopped playing music altogether for a period of about five months before she started to miss it. When she landed a summer job teaching music to younger children, she began to realize just how much. "Teaching was the best experience for me, because when you teach, you learn so much," she says. "It made me think about music and brought the fun back into it for me."
These days, Melissa is having a great deal of fun touring with the Harlem Quartet, which was formed in 2006 by the Sphinx Organization and is comprised of four first-prize Sphinx Competition Laureates. Not surprisingly, things were somewhat rocky at first as the quartet members learned how to work with one another, but everything soon came together, and the Harlem Quartet's debut at Carnegie Hall earned rave reviews in the New York Times, leading to a year-round concertizing career.
"Being in a chamber group is the best of all worlds," says Melissa of her music career. "I get to be soloistic at times, I get to play chamber music, and instead of traveling by myself, when I go off to concertize, I have three friends who come with me. We have our ups and our downs, and we have our stories... but that's the thing, we have those stories together. It's been a lot of fun, and I feel really lucky."