Skip to main content

Julia O'Brien-Merrill

Key image for: Julia O'Brien-Merrill


I began playing violin in Maine at age seven and joined MSO in 1996. I have studied at workshops with Cristophe Bossuat in Montreal and Kato Havas in London and have played with Maine Pro Musica, Bates College Orchestra, Austin Peay State University Orchestra (TN), Orchard Park Symphony (NY), Merrimack Valley Philharmonic (MA), Maine Line Symphony (PA), Portland Community Orchestra, and the University of Wisconsin Symphony.

Besides playing in the first violin section, I am the MSO Music Librarian.

I feel extremely proud to be a part of MSO and realize that being part of an orchestra is good for my soul, heart, and brain. Playing in MSO brings me comfort, joy, and inspiration, giving me strength throughout some of life’s trying times, such as caring for my aging parents and watching our sons go off to college, become adults, and move westward. Being a part of MSO has meant witnessing the illnesses and aging of fellow players and the loss of dear friends. Having been a part of MSO’s transformation from a smaller orchestra to a full-sized orchestra with a tremendous musical impact on our ever-growing audiences and the community continues to be a personal and musical thrill.

Now retired from teaching, I held jobs that included: teacher and coordinator of the English as a Second Language Program in the Brunswick Schools, teacher of Suzuki Violin, and teacher/principal of a two-room schoolhouse in Charlotte, Maine. In 2005, I traveled to China to teach English through Bridges for Education, and I was selected in 2006 to travel to Japan through the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund to study about Japanese culture.

My dream to honor my father through having an illustrated book for children of all ages published by Commonwealth Editions, Applewood Books came to a reality in 2017. The journey of sharing Charlie on the M.T.A. Did He Ever Return? illustrated by Caitlin Marquis is my new adventure as I travel to schools and libraries in Maine and Massachusetts reading the book and teaching some juicy bits of Boston history.

Together with my husband David, I spend winters skiing in the East and the West; spend summers sailing, boating, and hiking along the Maine Coast; and spend the rest of the time traveling and exploring the world.