Melissa Danas’ star has been rising ever since she graduated from Mannes School of Music. In addition to gigging in New York’s rigorous freelancing scene, she’s worked on Jason Schwartzman’s Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle and performed as a member of the Sarajevo Philharmonic.
Now she’s notching a major success as the recipient of a Fulbright Award, an honor that will take her to Vienna, Austria, to perform with the Vienna Philharmonic and study the Viennese horn.
“It’s an honor to receive the Fulbright, especially because it’s been my dream to go to Vienna since music first came into my life,” said Danas, Performance ’16. “Very few women have worked so closely with the brass section, so it’s one of those things that you dream up, and then when it actually happens, you’re in disbelief.”
For her Fulbright project, In Search of Sound: Resisting Homogeneity in Orchestral Music During the Global Era, Danas “will explore an alternative to the shift toward the homogenization of orchestral style due to the rise of globalization, which has facilitated the sharing of musical ideals across cultures, but also has rendered the unique asunder,” according to her project description.
Danas credited Mannes for creating a “unique learning environment” that allowed her to thrive.
“It’s competitive, but manages to support faculty and students as well,” she says. “It’s a place of groundbreaking ideas that doesn’t adhere to the usual conservatory factory model.”
“We are all very happy for Melissa, who distinguished herself at Mannes as an excellent musician and an exemplary member of our collegial community,” said Richard Kessler, dean of Mannes and executive dean of College of Performing Arts. “She will no doubt flourish as a Fulbright Scholar.”
Breaking glass ceilings and shattering stereotypes as a female horn player will continue to be Danas’ goal.
“The road was already paved by the women who have come before me, and I hope to extend the pavement as far as I can,” said Danas, who joins recent College of Performing Arts students Denis Savelyev and Arta Jekabsone in receiving a prestigious award. “No matter how outlandish or impossible something may seem, you just have to go for it, and you may end up surprising yourself in the end.”