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Melissa Hamlin - Violin


Hello! My name is Melissa Hamlen and I have begun my fifth season as a violinist in the Grand Rapids Symphony. This is an exciting time to be a part of this organization in this fast-growing city, which has become a wonderful place to call home. My husband, Chris is also a member of the symphony as Principal Bass. We moved here together in 2012 and have since become loving parents to our shy and funny 17-month old daughter, Claire and our energetic Wheaten Terrier, Penny.


I have basically been playing the violin my entire life, as I began my studies at the very young age of two-and-a-half. Growing up in a Northwest suburb of Chicago, my parents, both non-musicians but lovers of classical music, had started my older sister in group-violin classes and I followed in her footsteps. Both of us played with a traveling violin group called the Magical Strings of Youth for many years taking us to The White House, all over Europe and Asia. It was fun to be a world traveler at age five, and I hope to be able to share similar experiences with Claire someday! My younger, twin sisters are also musicians- so, as you can imagine, there was never a dull or quiet moment growing up in our house.


Music became even more important in my life beginning in sixth grade when I joined a youth orchestra, The Midwest Young Artists, which is where I spent my time every Saturday. It was at my first summer music camp when I was 12 years old where I realized that I loved the violin and making lasting friendships with people who have that common interest with me!


I earned a Bachelor of Music degree and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music as a student of Zvi Zeitlin, and received a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music with William Preucil. I then moved to Miami Beach, FL for a three-year fellowship with the New World Symphony, which is where I met my future husband, Chris!


For the past five summers, I have been a member of the Grant Park Orchestra in the city I love, Chicago. We rehearse and perform outdoors in the beautiful Millennium Park for 10 weeks each summer. 


When I'm not playing in the symphony, I spend a lot of time taking Claire on little “adventures,” which are our daily outings- whether its for long walks with our dog, going to the Fulton Farmer's Market, going to the library, or both Claire’s and my favorite activity- grocery shopping. I absolutely love cooking and baking and love looking for new seasonal recipes. My favorite comfort food is Japanese curry that I have learned to make from scratch and Chinese-Korean black bean noodles called jjajjangmyun. I love pigging out on dark chocolate covered pretzels and Thai food.


I love binge-watching TV shows such as Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, The Good Wife, Law and Order: SVU, Game of Thrones, and anything on HGTV. I also love watching baseball (Go Cubs!) and tennis. Some of my favorite movies are The Sandlot, A Bronx Tale, The Usual Suspects, and Love Actually. I love watching scary movies, even the bad ones.


My favorite things about living in Grand Rapids are how easy it is to get around town (especially compared to Chicago), the friendly caring people everywhere you go, and how much fun it is to explore this great foodie city with its amazing coffee, beer and great farm-to-table restaurants.

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