Hailed by Alex Ross of The New Yorker as “riveting,” and Time Out New York as a “dazzling diva, adept at old and new music,” soprano Mellissa Hughes enjoys a busy career in both contemporary and early music. A dedicated interpreter of living composers, Ms. Hughes has collaborated with Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Steve Reich, Neil Rolnick, and has premiered works written expressly for her by Caleb Burhans, Missy Mazzoli, Ted Hearne, Jacob Cooper, Matt Marks, Corey Dargel, David T. Little and Frederic Rzewski.
In the classical concert hall she has sung Mozart’s Vespers and Requiem under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner, Handel’s Dixit Dominus with Sir David Willcocks, and the title role in Dido and Aeneas under the direction of Andrew Lawrence King. Equally at home in front of a rock band, Ms. Hughes is lead vocalist of Newspeak, an amplified alt-classical band created by composer David T. Little.
Recent highlights include the world premiere of Alex Temple’s Liebeslied with George Manahan and the American Composers Orchestra at Zankel Hall for the opening of the SONiC Festival; a performance of Jonathan Berger’s song cyle Theotokia with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Pedja Muzijevic for Stanford Lively Arts; a Weill Hall performance and Naxos recording of Mohammed Fairouz’s Tahwidah with the clarinetist David Krakauer; Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s multimedia song cycle The Long Count at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam for the Holland Festival; the US premiere of Adrian Utley and Will Gregory’s score for The Passion of Joan Arc as part of Lincoln Center’s 2011 White Light Festival; and featured solos in the May 2011 Carnegie Hall Dawn Upshaw/Donnacha Dennehy Workshop, for which Steve Smith wrote in the New York Times: “the standout was the versatile soprano Mellissa Hughes, whose dynamic singing and theatrical flair in the concluding song, ‘The Last Toast,’ made for an extravagant star turn.”
Upcoming dates include the world premiere of David T. Little’s Am I Born, a solo orchestral work written for Ms. Hughes, commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic for Alan Pierson’s inaugural season as Music Director; and performances of David Coll’s Position, Influence and Matt Marks’s Christian nihilist pop-opera The Little Death, Vol. II for the MATA Festival.
Ms. Hughes’s discography includes releases on Nonesuch, New Amsterdam, and Bang on A Can’s Cantaloupe Music. As a New Amsterdam Artist, Ms. Hughes is heard on many critically acclaimed albums, including Matt Marks’s The Little Death: Vol.1; Newspeak’s Sweet Light Crude; and the debut release of Missy Mazzoli’s band, Victoire’s Cathedral City.
Renowned for her flexible vocal technique and collaborative artistry, Ms. Hughes has provided supporting vocals for My Brightest Diamond, The Roots, The National and The Breeders, and performs regularly with Alarm Will Sound, Clarion Music Society, Vox Vocal Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, AXIOM Ensemble, Ensemble ACJW, Ensemble de Sade, for Trinity Wall Street and the Wordless Music series. She holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, Princeton University and Yale University.