Emily Melendes


Hometown: Waukesha, WI

Alma maters: The University of Texas at Austin, The Juilliard School

TŌN photo by Matt Dine


Appearances: Breck Music, Breckenridge, CO, 2011–present

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? I realized during my last two years of high school that I wanted to pursue music in college. I had been planning to be a lawyer!

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? Surprisingly, I really love classic rock. When I want to relax, I can never listen to ‘classical’ music because it’s inherently too stressful for me, so I enjoy songs with predictable choruses, verses, and beat patterns.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? The pieces I love listening to are not usually the ones I love to play. My favorite piece of music to perform is La Bohème, mainly for Puccini’s sweeping, tender melodies, but also for his luscious harp part.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? My favorite musical experience has been playing for audiences that never usually get to experience harp music. I have played for my local hospital every Christmas since I started the harp, and have also played for groups of school kids. People outside of the classical music world are so fascinated by the harp, and it means so much to them to hear live music up close and personal. I think that kind of connection through music is really precious.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: I am such a fan of Harry Styles. Some of my friends find this a bit embarrassing, but it’s the truth and I’m not ashamed!

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? I actually played the piano, flute, and violin in addition to harp before I went to college. I enjoyed all of them, but they ultimately cemented my decision to be a harpist rather than anything else. I think it would be fun to learn the steel drums.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? If I weren’t a musician, I’d probably be an artist. I did oil painting in high school and won a couple awards for my portraits, and I really enjoyed working in detail with colors and lines.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Hands down my favorite place on this earth is Dartmoor, United Kingdom. I traveled there in the summer of 2016 with my best friend and we hiked 13 miles across the tors and streams of the moor. It is the most magical place on earth, full of ancient Druid rock monuments, tons of wild ponies, and sheep.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I’m really interested in social theory and politics, and when I was younger I wanted to be a politician.