Flathead High School Senior to Perform in All-Northwest Orchestra

Melanie Felsch will join top musicians from throughout the region for a prestigious orchestral performance this February

By Denali Sagner
Violinist Melanie Felsch of Flathead High School in the school’s auditorium in Kalispell on Dec. 2, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon distillery

It was only six years ago that Melanie Felsch picked up a violin for the first time. Yet by the sounds of it, one could easily think that the Flathead High School senior has been playing her whole life.

Felsch was recently selected to play violin in the All-Northwest Orchestra, a prestigious ensemble that brings together young musicians from across Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming for a biennial concert. After weeks of practicing, Felsch will head to Bellevue, Washington in February to gather with some of the region’s most talented instrumentalists for All-Northwest’s performance. As she prepares for what Flathead High School Director of Orchestras Eric Holdhusen called “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Felsch is looking ahead to her musical endeavors, at All-Northwest and beyond.

All-Northwest Orchestra is organized by the National Association for Music Education, one of the largest education organizations in the United States. Felsch was selected from the nearly 3,000 students who auditioned to join the northwest region’s orchestra, band and choir groups this year.

“It was definitely very exciting,” Felsch said, recalling the moment she learned that she had been chosen to play in the orchestra. “I’ve never gotten this much recognition for the work that I put into this.”

Holdhusen emphasized the impressive nature of Felsch’s selection, given that the violinist went up against “the best of the best” from major cities like Seattle, Portland and Boise, calling it “a testament to how much work she put in.”

Though the prestige of performing in All-Northwest will be a well-deserved feather in Felsch’s cap, she is most excited for the opportunity to connect with other young people who share her love of music. This fall, Felsch performed in Montana’s All-State Orchestra, where she was able to build connections with performers from across the state, something she is looking forward to continuing in Bellevue in February.

“I just am really excited to get to know other musicians that have the same amount of passion and drive to continue what they want to do,” she said.

Between preparing for All-Northwest and finishing up the first semester of her senior year, Felsch is currently sending applications and audition tapes to colleges, where she’s eager to continue her study of music. She hopes to double major in violin and piano, the latter of which she considers her main instrument.

Despite juggling the many musical responsibilities on her plate, Felsch remains cool and collected, making the complex art of violin look effortless.  

“It’s not a fluke that she made it into this ensemble, she had a really solid audition,” Holdhusen said. “It’s really an honor to have a student like this.”