Horn Player. Educator. Bookworm. Coffee Enthusiast. Podcast Junkie. Locavore. Simultaneous Health Nut/Chocoholic.
Melanie Erena enjoys performing, teaching, and listening to all types of music, new and old. She frequently performs with ensembles throughout the Midwest, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony, and Peoria Symphony. Melanie is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the O. Helton Memorial Acres Award, the Ralph McCracken Award, and the Lexington Philharmonic Guild Award. As the recipient of the Farwell Award in the Musicians Club of Women Solo Competition, Melanie was invited to present a solo recital at the celebrated Chicago Cultural Center.
Passionate about paying forward the wonderful music education she received by her own teachers and mentors, Melanie maintains a large private studio and serves as a teaching artist at The People’s Music School. In 2014, Miss Erena joined the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center, where she serves as instructor of horn, coaches chamber music, and performs at the Luzerne Chamber Music Festival.
Melanie holds a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and earned bachelor’s degrees in Music Performance and Music Education from the University of Kentucky, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Her primary teachers include Gail Williams, Jonathan Boen, and David G. Elliott.
Q & A w/Melanie
Years in Chicago?
Important musical experience?
The first time I was called to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was truly remarkable. In many ways, I learned more by sitting in the CSO horn section for one week than in all my years of education combined. It was incredibly surreal and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity.
Favorite composer or piece of music?
Bach – simultaneously mathematical and melodious.
Beethoven – timeless and revolutionary.
Brahms – sheer warmth and beauty.
Favorite Chicago neighborhood or favorite Chicago hang?
Andersonville/Ravenswood! As a new resident to the area, I am currently eating my way down N. Clark St.
Favorite audience experience was…
Any performance given by my teacher, mentor, and musical heroine, Gail Williams.
What are the benefits of collaborating with other organizations?
Collaboration is a fantastic cycle: the formation of new relationships engenders heightened creativity, which strengthens relationships, which results in even more innovative ideas…plus, when collaboration occurs, core audiences mesh together and new audience members are reached. Collaboration truly pushes art to its peak and draws people together.
If you could collaborate as a musician with any other organization, who would it be?
I am currently very into the music of singer/songwriter/virtuoso mandolinist Chris Thile. Chris, if you are reading this, I am available for your next album – let’s talk!
If you could get any fashion store to sponsor the Civic’s makeover concert attire, who would it be?
Easy – Target! It’s affordable yet chic. Who doesn’t love a good bargain?
Where is a unique location in Chicago where you wish you could play a concert or recital?
As a horn player, I must admit that every time I visit the Art Institute, I fantasize about filling its large, resonant rooms with majestic brass music…
If I were not a musician, I would be…
A teacher, writer, or psychologist.
One thing that I love about being a musician is…
The many doors that it opens to exploring the world. Due to my involvement in music, I have traveled to eleven countries, which has afforded me the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet all kinds of interesting people.
My favorite conductor that I have played for is…
Playing under the baton of legendary Maestros Riccardo Muti and Charles Dutoit last year – both unforgettable experiences.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg ©.