Melinda was born in London and read music at York University and studied in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann.
She has performed as soloist at many festivals including Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and Cheltenham and abroad at the Holland, Aarhus, and Oslo Festivals. She has given many recitals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3.
Over the years several works have been written for Melinda, including Music for Mel and Nora for oboe and piano by Simon Bainbridge, Nicholas Maw’s Little Concert for oboe and chamber orchestra, Sir Harrison Birtwistle Pulse Sampler for oboe and claves, and 26 Orpheus Elegies for oboe, harp, and counter-tenor, Simon Holt has written Banshee for oboe and percussion, Sphinx for cor anglais and tuned gongs, Disparate for solo oboe which she premiered in October 2008 and was the first piece to launch the festival celebrating the opening of London’s new King’s Place concert hall, and Disparate Dos for oboe and ensemble which she premiered in June 2009 at King’s Place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Endymion Ensemble. Other composers who have written for her include Howard Skempton, Anthony Gilbert, Robert Saxton, Jo Kondo, Philip Cashian, David Knotts, Wilfred Mellers and Larry Goves.
Melinda is also an accomplished composer, among her pieces are Pibroch and Song for Sidney for solo oboe, a work for double-reed ensemble, Crane Dance, written for the RNCM Woodwind Day in October 2008, and various ensemble pieces with strings. A new work Singla Rock for mixed quintet was premiered at King’s Place June 2009.
She has made many recordings and a recent solo CD Melinda Maxwell in Manchester: Music for Oboe from the RNCM, released on Dutton Recordings in 2007, was CD of the month for BBC Music magazine. Her most recent CD features the first recording for Oboe Classics of Birtwistle’s 26 Orpheus Elegies and his arrangement of Three Bach Arias released in 2009 and awarded the top rating in the Guardian and BBC Music Magazine.
In addition to her work as a chamber musician and recitalist, she is principal oboe of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Endymion Ensemble and the improvisation group Notes Inegales and also performs regularly as principal with the London Sinfonietta, and for film sessions with the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
She has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London and has been giving master-classes at the Dartington International Summer School since 1992. She also coaches at the Britten-Pears and National Youth Orchestra summer courses. She is Consultant in Woodwind Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
In 2007 Melinda went to Uganda as part of a four person London Sinfonietta team to discover the sounds of ancient rock gongs on the island of Lolui in Lake Victoria. The composer Nigel Osborne who also took part wrote a new solo work for her and her two colleagues and five Ugandan musicians, which was premiered at the opening of the new King’s Place Concert Hall in London October 2008.