School of Music professor named fifth music director of Lexington Philharmonic

Mélisse Brunet, a faculty member in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will split her time between teaching at Iowa and conducting in Kentucky.
Wednesday, July 20, 2022

By Emily Delgado  University of Iowa professor and French conductor Mélisse Brunet

University of Iowa professor and French conductor Mélisse Brunet is adding a new title to her list of accomplishments. She has recently been named the Music Director of the Lexington Philharmonic in Lexington, KY, and is the first female to hold the position in its more than 60-year history. 

Brunet, who will also remain in her role at Iowa as an assistant professor and director of orchestral studies, will lead the philharmonic starting this fall.  

“I love doing academia and I love doing professional work—that's why I love my position at the University of Iowa,” Brunet says. 

Having grown up in France, Brunet says she began her musical career in a small town in her home country, learning first to play the cello, followed by the trumpet, French horn, and piano.  

Then, as an educator, she fell in love with the art of conducting.  

“I wanted to help the composers better share their music with the musicians and audience, so, that was a point where I knew I really wanted to become a conductor,” Brunet explains.  

Leading the Lexington Philharmonic was a job Brunet didn’t formally apply to do. Instead, she was offered the position of music director after guest conducting the orchestra in May. 

“I saw that something very special was happening all along and on Saturday morning before the concert even happened, they offered me the job,” she said. 

Brunet says being able to work for both the University of Iowa and the Lexington Philharmonic is a dream come true. It allows her to teach, explore her craft, and provide service. She also says she hopes her students will see her accomplishments and be inspired to continue to work toward achieving their own goals.  

“You never give up on your dreams,” Brunet explains. You keep working, you keep your ethics, and you can succeed.”  

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.