Melissa has been my assistant music director for The Christmas Revels for many years, but this year I have finally gotten her back on stage … playing guitar! Because of the theme of the 2011 Andalusian Treasures show, we decided to form a large group of guitarists to play on several of the Spanish pieces. Melissa expressed her interest in being on stage, the fabulous costume folks found her a gorgeous costume, and voila! The group is called “Guitarras Doradas” and includes Melissa, Howard Bass, Bobby Gravitz, Jake Hendren, and William G.M. Hoffman (you can also catch Bobby and Bill in the mummer’s play). Melissa brings her background of both guitar and early music to the show (she is a graduate from the College of Music at Florida State University with a degree in musicology with focus on Early Music).
So, to learn more about Melissa, here are some fun facts:
- She grew up in a haunted house (not sure where that was, so you will have to ask her).
- She has lived in Ankara, Turkey for three years as a child, and then near Catania, Sicily for three years when she was in her early 20’s.
- Her mother was Spanish — the family was from Oviedo in Asturias. Her father is Welsh and English – and her branch of the Carter family is part of the Carters who were one of the “First Families of Virginia.”
- She has always been involved in the arts — she danced ballet for 8 years in childhood and adolescence and played the viola starting at age 9. She began guitar at 10, and then switched from viola to violin!
- Over the years, she has had a love/hate relationship with the guitar. Melissa says, “At age 11 I put my guitar under my bed for a year, certain I would never be able to REALLY play because I couldn’t make the chord changes in ‘Yesterday’ fast enough. I pulled it back out at 12 and tried again. I got it by the time I was 13.”
- By age 15, it was decided… she would learn classical guitar in time to pass an audition to college.
- Melissa also sang with various choirs in college, and had the thrill of singing Beethoven’s 9th with the Atlanta Symphony conducted by Robert Shaw. However, after getting nodes on my vocal chords, she joined the Collegium Musicum and learned to play baroque recorder and krumhorn (and she still loves playing the krumhorn to this day).
Don’t miss this year’s fabulous guitarists… only five more performances remain.