Saturday, October 02, 2021

Breaking News From Melissa Dunphy: apparently it's October now


Greetings from Saint Louis! This week, for the first time in 18 months, I got on a plane (mask very firmly in place) because on Sunday afternoon, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus will perform my latest work for them We are the Music Makers. Yes, a choral premiere! In person! (Masked and vaxxed, of course.) So before I get stuck into other news: if you are in STL or know anyone in the area, spread the word in the next 36 hours:

Sunday, October 3, 2021
3:00 PM
E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, 560 Music Center
Link to tickets

Here's a short teaser interview I did with Classic 107.3's John Clare. Fun fact: John and I go way back! 16 years ago, before I went back to school to become a composer, we were both employed at WITF-FM in Harrisburg, PA, and though our time together as official colleagues was short, we have kept in touch over the years, so I was pretty thrilled when I found out that he was moving here, and I've been looking forward to running into him.

The piece I wrote for the Chamber Chorus sets three verses of the poem Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy, which is probably most famous to folks in my generation because the line "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams" crops up in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1970), and "We are the Music Makers" is the name of one of the biggest music-related internet forums, and the largest musician Subreddit. The original poem is a celebration of the power of art even over death and politics, two things which have surely caused us all a lot of grief in the last year and a half.

And a quick reminder: last year, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus released a CD, Saint Louis Premieres, with a recording of an earlier work I wrote for them, Suite Remembrance, now published through EC Schirmer. Help support this amazing choir and grab yourself a copy of the album! Incidentally, back in July, the British choir Hesperos performed one of the movements in that suite, "Mourning into Dancing" at Evensong in none other than WESTMINSTER ABBEY which is KIND OF A BIG DEAL and yet another reason to rail at the fact I'm not in London at this time when my music is apparently having a ᴍᴏᴍᴇɴᴛ.

I'll try to zoom through the rest of the news, because it's a lot (it's always a lot!) and also I'm over deadline on a Magnificat I also have to finish this weekend.

Gonzales Cantata News

Hey, am I about to cry in this screenshot? Yep! The Opera Philadelphia Chorus performed a number from the Gonzales Cantata in a new arrangement for organ (originally created for IN Series last year), and I got kind of emotional in my interview because it was the first time I had seen singers performing live in over a year. (Expect more emotions this weekend, which marks the first time I'll be seeing singers perform live in front of an audience.) You should watch the whole thing (including my weepy interview) via the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

Speaking of the little cantata that launched my career, later this month (October 22-24) the Gonzales Cantata is being performed in its entirety by Chicago Choral Artists! I wish I could be there, but I'll be in Oberlin workshopping my new opera instead. Tough break. But don't let that stop you! Pick up your tickets here.

Cantus Premieres N-400 Erasure Songs

Oh, can you not make it to Chicago this month because you're stuck in Minneapolis/St. Paul? Maybe instead, you'd be interested in attending one of these Cantus concerts, at which they are premiering a song cycle I wrote for them (!!!). Their website describes me as "one of today’s most compelling compositional voices" (!!!!!!) so ... the power of Dunphy compels you. N-400 Erasure Songs, as the name suggests, sets erasure poems carved out of the N-400 form that immigrants have to fill out when we apply to become US citizens. The three texts were created by Niina Pollari, Laurel Chen, and yours truly; I was lucky enough to Zoom into a Cantus rehearsal, and (unsurprisingly) they sound incredible singing the contrasting songs. They will be presenting five concerts of the program in the MSP area between October 15 and 24; details and tickets here.

Oh, can you not make it to Minneapolis/St. Paul because you're literally anywhere else in the world? Why not tune in to the October 22 concert online! Streaming tickets available here

Richmond Symphony plays Overdrive

Something kind of magical has begun to happen this year: as my new work catalog expands, some of my older works that haven't left the house in years have been offered dates, and I couldn't be more thrilled for them. I wrote Overdrive over a decade ago, but it hasn't seen a performance since the Curtis Symphony recorded it while I was at Penn. But on October 23, the Richmond Symphony is taking it to the ball on this fantastic program which includes Sterling Elliott playing Haydn's 2nd Cello Concerto.  I can't be there because of the aforementioned Oberlin workshop! So please go in my stead. Tickets and details here.

Album Release from Tonality: American Will Be featuring #UnitedWeDream

One of my fave choirs, Tonality, conducted by the brilliant Alexander Lloyd Blake, just release a new album recorded during the pandemic. America Will Be is a powerful reflection of our hopes for this country, and I'm so proud that my song from American DREAMERS, #UnitedWeDream, with lyrics by Claudia D. Hernandez, is the final track. Learn more and find out where to listen here. There's also a write-up on I Care If You Listen about the video Tonality created for my song. And if you're in LA, there's a live concert performance of the album on October 9 at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral. Details and tickets here.

In the meantime, here's a conversation Alex and I had recently about the piece and Tonality's work:
TonalityTalks: Dr. Melissa Dunphy on "#UnitedWeDream"

More Talking

If you're in the mood for interviews, here's another one that I did with singer Ailsa Campbell of St Martin-in-the-Fields, discussing two works of mine that they sung recently: O Oriens (originally commissioned by Choral Arts Philadelphia) and Halcyon Days (originally commissioned by Voces 8):
Two of my works were performed in their #ReSound concert 'Upon your heart' conducted by Anna Lapwood.

More News

October 2, which is either today or tomorrow depending on when you open this e-mail: Alex Lloyd Blake will be the guest conductor of beloved choir Resonance Ensemble in Portland, and they'll be performing #UnitedWeDream at Cerimon House. Tickets and details here

On Sunday October 24 (HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MANY THINGS DISCUSSED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ARE HAPPENING THAT WEEKEND, IT IS WILDDDDD), a set of two organ preludes that I wrote for organist Carson Cooman is being premiered—a long-delayed first outing because of this rotten pandemic, but I'm so happy it's happening now! If you're in Boston, the recital is a benefit to help maintain the wonderful organ at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Tickets and details here.  

November 10 and 11 in Vancouver, Chor Leoni are premiering a new TTBB arrangement of Waves of Gallipoli, originally commissioned by the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. Chor Leoni reached out to me during the pandemic for their interview series, and I'm delighted to be working with them. Stay tuned for more news on that front... in the meantime get your tickets here.

On December 5, the Fort Dodge Symphony is performing my Jack and the Beanstalk suite! Tickets are only $10, free for students, and I swear to you the tunes I wrote into that work will stick in your head for the rest of your life. Details here.

And save the date: on April 9 and 10, 2022, if you're in the Philadelphia area, you  won't want to miss the Lyric Fest concert The Song Catcher—I'm writing a new folk song for them inspired by the political songs of writers like Woody Guthrie. It's called Joey Baloney, with text by my good friend and sometime director Ozzie Jones, and I can't wait for you to hear it.

If you missed the Clearfield Zalon back in June, you can watch it on YouTube! Badass violinist performed my solo violin work kommós on this program. Andrea's Salon is celebrating 30 years this year, and I'm so proud to have been a part of it.


I am rapidly running out of energy and time, so very quickly: last month, Matt and I roadtripped down to Colonial Williamsburg with a van full of artifacts so they could be professionally photographed for an article we are writing for Ceramics in America. We had a fantastic time being welcomed by curators from the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums, Jamestown Settlement, and Reeves Museum at Washington and Lee, who gave us guided tours of their collections. Reader, I cannot even begin to describe to you how cool it was to see not only the items on display, but all the hidden treasures that they have in back rooms! We were totally geeking out. More news about this soon, but here are a few photos from the weekend (the pretty shots are by Rob Hunter):

Good LORD we have a lot to podcast about, whenever we get time to podcast again.

And speaking of time, my new managerial assistant Dina is AMAZING, and if you want to e-mail me about anything composition related, you should probably copy her at, because she's way better at staying on top of her inbox than I am. And I have two wonderful student/interns Josiah and Kira who have been picking up my slack on the nitty gritty of being a self-published composer, such as keeping my website updated and tracking my performances. AND ALSO AN ANNOUNCEMENT: beginning with my next newsletter, my former intern Claris is returning to be funnier and cooler than I can ever manage to be at 2AM on a Friday night when I should be in bed because I have a dress rehearsal to attend in the morning. So hopefully it won't be three whole months until my next newsletter? Time will tell (whatever time is).