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Melvin Brown (Tenor, Choral Conductor)

Born: ? - Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA
Died: February 19, 2007 - Birmingham, Alabama, USA

The American tenor and choral conductor, Melvin L. Brown, was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas; his family moved to southern California when he was a child. As a young man, he began serious vocal study as the only pupil of the great Metropolitan Opera soprano, Amelita Galli-Curci. He later served his country in the United States Army as a chaplain's assistant. He continued his musical studies at the University of California, the Music Academy of the West at Santa Barbara, the Mannes College of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he met his wife Sandra Walker.

Melvin Brown began his professional career as a soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale, making extensive concert tours of the USA, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Appearances as guest soloist followed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of famed conductor Zubin Mehta, the San Diego Symphony, and other major USA orchestras. He was a member of the Columbia Operatic Trio, the Metropolitan Opera Studio, and appeared at the New York City Opera and with the opera companies of Dallas, Houston, and San Diego.

Melvin Brown was highly sought after as an oratorio soloist, and performed regularly in concerts in New York City at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He also appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival (1966). His operatic career took him to Germany where he appeared in leading roles in opera houses throughout the country. While in Germany, he was Music Director at the Frankfurt Central Chapel and conducted the Frankfurt German-American Community Choir. Locally, Brown has performed in Birmingham with Alabama Operaworks and Opera Birmingham. He has recorded for Angel, Columbia, and Vox Records.

Melvin Brown served Riverchase United Methodist Church for 8 years as Minister of Music. Prior to that, he served as Director of Music Ministries at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia, and was Music Director of The Augusta Choral Society from 1991 to 1999, joining a short list of musicians who have guided the choral society through 56 seasons. He shared his beautiful tenor voice wehther at a wedding, funeral or musical performance - or was on the podium conducting a major choral work - his passion for making music was evident to all. Some of the community greatest memories are of his conducting stirring performances of Johannes Brahms' Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, Rossini's Stabat Mater and George Frideric Handel's Messiah.

Melvin Brown died in 2007 at his home in Birmingham, Alabama. The Augusta Chronicle wrote in the obituary: “He will be remembered as a musician's musician, someone who touched and profoundly impacted the lives of many singers and instrumentalists in the Augusta area and beyond.”. He was survived by: his wife of 32 years, Sandra Walker Brown; their son, Noel Christian Brown of Augusta, Georgia; his sisters Wanda Herold of Escondido, California and Mary Mager of Reno, Nevada; numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of friends, admirers, music-lovers, and students from all over the world who will grieve his passing and cherish his memory for all that he has meant to them, both personally and professionally.

Source: The RUMC Pastor's Corner Website (February 23, 2007); Obituary in The Augusta Chronicle (February 28, 2007)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2011)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Sandor Salgo


BWV 232 [1st], BWV 232 [2nd], BWV 247

Links to other Sites

The RUMC Pastor's Corner: Melvin L. Brown

Requiem for a musician's musician (Requiem for a musician's musician)

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