Melinda Maxwell was born in London and read music at York. Since her studies in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann she has performed as soloist at the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Aarhus (Denmark), Huddersfield and Warwick Festivals as well as on tours in Europe, Japan and Mexico. She has given many recitals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3.
Over the years a number of works have been written especially for Melinda. These include compositions by Simon Bainbridge Music for Mel and Nora, Sir Harrison Birtwistle Pulse Sampler and 26 Orpheus Elegies, Howard Skempton Three Pieces, Jo Kondo Dartington Air, Anthony Gilbert Os, Robert Saxton …from a distant shore. In London in 1988 she premiered Nicholas Maw’s Little Concert for oboe and chamber orchestra, which bears the dedication “...written as a tribute to the playing of Melinda Maxwell”. In summer 1994 she gave the first performance of Banshee in the House for oboe and percussion, written for her by Simon Holt, as part of a BBC lunchtime recital at St John’s Smith Square London. In the 1998 Cheltenham Festival she premiered a new work for oboe and ensemble by Philip Cashian with the Endymion Ensemble. Another new work by Simon Holt, Sphinx for Cor Anglais and tuned gongs, was written for and premiered by Melinda in the 2001 Cheltenham festival.
In addition to her work as a chamber musician and recitalist, she is principal oboe of Endymion and also performs regularly with the London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Hilliard Ensemble and the London Metropolitan Orchestra. She is also in demand in the world of commercial music, her playing being most familiar in the Inspector Morse series for BBC TV. She has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College London and has been giving master-classes at the Dartington International Summer School since 1992. She also coaches at the Britten-Pears and NYO summer courses. Since September 2001 she was appointed Director of Woodwind Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Her compositions include Pibroch for solo oboe (BBC Recording and Lontano Records), Transformations, a song for soprano and chamber ensemble commissioned by the Composer’s Ensemble (London premiere 1990), and Endless Chain for oboe, saxophone and percussion (BBC Recording 1992). She premiered her Elegy for oboe and piano in June 1994 for BBC Radio 3 and completed Pelagos, a string trio, for the Chamber Players of London, which was performed in Bromsgrove in November 1995 and in 1997 at the Purcell Room by the Endymion Ensemble. In 1998 a string sextet, From Tree to Tree was performed at the Old Isleworth Festival and a duet for clarinet and harp, Song Lines and Cadences was performed at St Giles Cripplegate in London. Song for Sidney for solo oboe was premiered at St John’s Smith Square as part of a memorial concert for Sidney Sutcliffe.
In 1997 NMC Recordings released a CD in their Artists Series of Melinda playing Birtwistle’s Pulse Sampler and Simon Holt’s Banshee as well as her own Elegy to great critical acclaim. In 2000 Dutton Laboratories released an Edmund Rubbra CD featuring Melinda playing his Oboe Sonata, and in 2003 a York Bowen CD with her performance of the Oboe Sonata. In 2004 Dutton released a solo CD of works written for and by Melinda.