Friday, December 03, 2021

November Had Lots of Notable News!


Hello December! Hello Winter!

Hi everyone! This is Claris - for those of you who may remember, I used to write Melissa's newsletters before I went off to law school last year! If you're new to the listserv, be ready for some terribly heavy-handed puns and outdated pop culture references unsuccessfully woven into the amazing news of what Melissa has been up to!

As usual, she's been up to an incredible amount of incredible work! She's pictured above with librettist Jackie Goldfinger, director Chris Mirto, and dramaturg Julia Bumke (from left to right) at the Birenbaum at Oberlin College where she workshopped her commissioned work with undergraduate Obies! Check out this link for some more photos of her in action!

So many opportunities to hear Melissa's music (and maybe see her in person??)
Chanticleer is singing "The Elements of the Sun" as part of their  Christmas tour! There are upcoming performances in New York City (tonight at 8PM and 12/5), Chicago (12/7 + 12/8), Milwaukee (12/9), Los Angeles (12/14), and Palo Alto (12/16)! ALSO Melissa will be at the New York performance this Sunday (Dec. 5th) - go hear her music AND see her face! Get tickets here.

The Choir of St. Paul's in Burlingame, CA is performing "Magnificat" on 12/5!

Most of the upcoming performances or choral/ensemble, but not this one! Rhiannon Vaughn is performing "Four Poems of Nikita Gill" on 12/8 at the University of Maryland's Gildenhorn Recital Hall. Watch the livestream here!

"O Oriens" has already been sung this advent season, including at the Washington National Cathedral last week, but will be sung even more!
  1. The William Ferris Chorale is performing it in Chicago today and 12/4 at the St. Vincent De Paul Church.
  2. On 12/5, it'll be performed multiple times! In Philadelphia, it'll be part of Saint Mark's A Service of Advent Lessons & Carolsat 4PM. It'll also be performed by the iCantanti Chamber Choirat the First English Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls, MN!
  3. The Harmonium Choral Society in Morristown, NJ is performing "O Oriens" on 12/11 and 12/12 at the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.
  4. It will be performed at the Church of the Good Shepherd's A Festival of Advent Lessons and Carols on Dec. 19th in Bryn Mawr, PA.
  5. For those in York, UK, the Ebor Singers are singing "O Oriens" at the National Centre for Early Music on Dec. 19th!

 The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh is performing "Halcyon Days" at various venues around Allegheny County on 12/10, 12/11, 12/12, 12/17, and 12/19! Check venue information and get tickets here!

  1. Halcyon Days is also being performed multiple times in the next week! The Voice of Concinnity is performing it on 12/4 and 12/5 at two different venues in CT.
  2. It's also being performed in Kansas City, MO by the UMKC Conservatory Singers on 12/4 and 12/5 at the Visitation Catholic Church!
  3. The Longwood Chorus is performing it at the All Saints Parish in Brookline, MA on 12/10.
  4. And last, but not least, the Young New Yorkers Chorus' Mixed Ensemble is performing "Halcyon Days" at St. Mary the Virgin Church in NYC on 12/11!

 On Dec. 19th, in Burlingame, CA, "Nunc Dimittis" will premiere as part of the Choir St. Paul's Episcopal Church's Christmas Concert! More details here.

A recording of the Trinity Wall Street Choir's performance of "If thou wilt be perfect"! This was presented by Amplify Female Composers in the Fall Female Composer Fridays series back in July 2021! The first 20 seconds or so alone are 😍
The organ preludes that Melissa wrote for Carson Cooman premiered, with the recital benefiting the maintenance of the organ at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston! It was also recently performed by Carson at the Memorial Church of Harvard University in Cambridge on November 15th! Please check out "Sehnsucht" and "Fruhling" here! Listening to "Fruhling" may help stave off those winter blues!
Here's an excerpt of the Richmond Symphony's performance of "Overdrive" conducted by Chia-Hsuan Lin in Richmond, VA! Only the first two minutes of the piece, but the drama!!
Willamette University Choir performed "Wild Embers" as part of their Fall Choral Concert in Salem, OR! There's something particularly poetic about singing "They should have checked the ashes / of the women they burned alive. / Because it takes a single wild ember / to bring a whole wildfire to life." in Salem (albeit not Salem, MA)! The performers did an amazing job of performing with masks on, but feel free to check out the link to the program in the description for a copy of the lyrics!
A picture of Cantus and Melissa from when they were working on the piece in September!
Cantus Performances
In October and November in various cities such as Bowling Green, OH and Harrogate, TN, Cantus performed "N-400 Erasure Songs," for which they previously commissioned Melissa! There aren't any recordings of the pieces setting poetry created by blacking out text from the U.S. naturalization form yet, but the StarTribune described "[each] of the three movements proved powerful, the first haunting and mournful, while the second pulsed with the anxious spirit of one sinking in the quicksand of bureaucracy. But reassurance arrived in the program's finale, a beautifully moving embrace upon arrival for which Dunphy created both music and text."
Also everywhere!
Dr. Jennifer Piazza-Pick performed "Four Poems of Nikita Gill" on Nov. 1st, for a faculty recital for Georgia College and State University's Department of Music.

Chor Leoni hosted an online concert, Breath in Hope, in which they performed "Waves of Gallipolli".

On Nov. 18th, "Captain Samuels Speaks to the Sea" was performed at the Hamilton Mansion in the Woodlands - a beautifully haunting, narrated piece performed in the middle of a historic garden and cemetery!

"Black Thunder" was performed by Aural Compass Projects' Chelsea Fingal DeSouza and CodyRay Caho for their "Before Body Meets Earth" performance on November 19th and 20th in Philadelphia and Wayne, PA. Check out the trailer on YouTube.

The Esoterics performed "Together" as part of their THE REWAKING program on Nov. 20th. They performed it back in 2019 too!


"Witch-Wife" premiered on Nov. 14th and was performed by Choir Matrix and Women of Concinnity for their Claiming Space concert in New Britain, CT! It was also performed later in Williamsburg, VA by the Barksdale Treble Chorus and Botetourt Chamber Singers as part of Bruton Parish's Candlelight Concert series.

"New Dreams" commissioned by La Caccina, premiered on Nov. 20th as part of their The Matriarchy performance series in Chicago. See below for a video of Melissa speaking about the inspiration for the piece, Grace Lee Boggs.
Melissa was part of a roundtable discussion with fellow composers and multi-hyphenates Erin Busch, Courtney Bryan, and Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa. They talked about their source of inspiration, processes, how they became composers, and more! You can view the full discussion on Opera Philadelphia's channel!
Melissa joined Opera Philadelphia's Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden and organist Meghan Melow Ness for a panel discussion on the Future of the Organ! For those of you who were able to make it in person - I'm very jealous!
Here's Melissa introducing "New Dreams," the commission for La Caccina inspired by Chinese-American civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs! Melissa talks about how she was particularly inspired by the questions in Grace Lee Boggs' autobiography: "How do we transform ourselves? How do we transform our world? What do we need? What do we want? What is the difference?"
There is sadly no new Boghouse episode (YET), but Melissa was interviewed by Steve Danielson for his podcast, Moveable Do (like the solfege Do)! The episode also includes snippets of and reviews of a few of her pieces, including "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?"
And no, I don't mean "Bones or No Bones" (may your days always be Bones days). The Boghouse Gift Shop is back open! And Melissa and Matt are selling literal bones (animal) (mostly cow) from the 1700s which they found in their esteemed privies! Bone earrings! Bone necklaces! Loose bones for crafts! I'm very superstitious so they aren't right for me, but they look very cool! So if you're a cool person who wants to show the world that you're cool or need to get a holiday gift for someone, check it out!
That's it from me folks, but you'll hear from me again in the new year! Until then, hope you stay cozy!
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