Playing the piano live has been a lifelong dream for composer and film producer, Melissa Parmenter. Or more precisely, playing her own compositions infront of a live audience. Parmenter began learning the piano and violin from the age of five, her father teaching her piano by ear. By the age of fifteen she was enthralled by film scores and, taking inspiration from leading composers such as Phillip Glass and Michael Nyman, she soon began to write her own music.
Parmenter was born in Milan and lived there until she was five, moving to Oxford via York at the age of nine. There she attended The European School and completed the European Baccalaureate. Parmenter is fluent in English, Italian and French.
A big influence on Parmenter’s formative years were her family summers spent in Italy, in the town of Moneglia, south of Genoa.
However, piano was not Parmenter’s only love at this time, as she also had a passion for choreography and contemporary dance, studying at the London Contemporary Dance School/The Place after leaving secondary school. After a year at The Place, Parmenter then went on to read music at Durham University.
During her years dancing and her summers by the sea, her love for the piano held strong, as did her love of film music. Upon graduating from Durham, Parmenter began to explore the idea of working in film, hoping to find the chance to involve her compositions along the way. She started work in film production and was soon able to edge her music into productions, firstly by creating the temp scores used in the early editing process. Her first successful music placement was on the Tracey Emin film Topspot, which Parmenter also produced. She soon saw how her two chosen disciplines of film production and composition played off on each other.
Parmenter went on to work alongside acclaimed British director Michael Winterbottom and produced many of his films over the past fifteen years, including Trishna starring Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed, The Face of An Angel starring Kate Beckinsale, and all four of The Trip series, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. As well as producing, Parmenter also composed the score for films including Genova starring Colin Firth and Catherine Keener, The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson and Comes A Bright Day by Simon Aboud.
Despite her deep love for film, Parmenter soon realised that she was fast reaching the point where she could no longer keep her inate musicality hidden in the background and that she needed to find a way to bring her love of the piano and of composition to the fore.
Parmenter released her first EP of original solo compositions ‘Scandinavia’ in 2017 on Globe Soundtrack & Score. It was an emotive and textured collection of songs which balanced warm piano with visceral cello. Having adored the musicmaking process, however, she and Winterbottom had three films in the pipeline – Greed (starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, David Mitchell), The Wedding Guest (starring Dev Patel, Radhika Apte) and the final installment of The Trip (The Trip to Greece) – so once again, Parmenter had to balance music and film for a further three years.
Luckily for her, working on films and being in a constant mode of creativity allowed Parmenter the scope to work seamlessly across both genres. Having experienced feelings of nostalgia for the long, hot Mediterranean summers of her childhood during this intensely busy period, Parmenter quickly found the perfect outlet for the recorded sounds she’d been holding onto for years and set about writing Messapica, a musical love note to the Italy of her youth.
Messapica is a collection of classical piano and elegant cello performed by Parmenter’s regular musical collaborator, cellist Harry Escott. With the songs named after towns in the Puglia region of Southern Italy where Parmenter now spends as much time as she can, Messapica evokes the warmth, emotion and soundscape of her Italian childhood, instantly transporting the listener with her to those glorious Mediterranean climes.