Thursday June 23, 2011
Cellist Melissa Brown performed her final concert with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) in the orchestra’s Masterworks Series concert recently. She had played with the VSO for 50 years. By happy coincidence, Brown’s last performance featured superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who dressed up as a delivery boy to present her with flowers on stage at the concert. He also showered her with attention at a VSO gathering in her honor the day before her final concert.
Brown joined the VSO in 1961 when she and her then husband and cellist, Peter Brown, moved to Lyndonville after graduate school in Illinois. In the early days the Browns would take their baby, Lucy, to rehearsals and let her sleep in one of their cello cases. Melissa Brown played in the Alcott Trio, performed all over the state, and traveled to Honduras to give concerts and master classes in conjunction with Partners of the Americas. She visited 50 towns across Vermont during the 251 Project that celebrated the VSO’s 50th anniversary. Brown was founder and director of the crack Young Player’s Orchestra in Hanover, New Hampshire, and for many years the orchestra director at Essex Junction High School, where the string program was the best in the state.
Melissa Brown lives in South Burlington, still spends time in her cabin in Lyndonville, and enjoys her visits to her two daughters and granddaughter in Virginia.