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Friday, April 29, 2022

It's Already March! Or Alternatively: UGH Daylight Savings.


Ugh Daylight Savings.

Most people lost an hour, and so did Melissa, but she's still embodying the popular TikTok sound "while you were sitting around, waiting, doing nish - I was out, making moves." I still don't fully understand what "nish" means, but you get the gist.

Just a couple days ago, Melissa and her neighbor, Andrew Ross, filed a petition to get on the Democratic Ward Executive Committee ballot representing Ward 5 Division 30! Why? In her own words: "I want more art and less dumped trash on the streets of my beloved Philadelphia neighborhood... regardless of the result, I'll be doing everything I can as a citizen to promote more art/clean up more trash, but my hope is that working together is even more effective than working individually... Because here's the thing: I LOVE our neighborhood. I don't think everyone could spend as much time as I have digging shit out of holes to learn about our block's former occupants without falling in love with this community and wanting everyone else to take just as much pride in it".

Ah weird magic theatre, what lovely journeys and paths you continue to open!

Additionally, Young Women's Composers Camp, for which Melissa is a board member, is now Wildflower Composers to better represent the young composers the organization has promised to support and their varied experiences, backgrounds, and identities! Personally, as a non-binary person, I'm thrilled to hear this, and I'm excited to continue to see young composers flourish with the support of Melissa and Wildflower Composers!


In case you missed it: in February, Melissa was profiled by the Philadelphia Inquirer for their column, "We The People." Reporter Stephanie Farr told Melissa it's the longest phone interview for this series that she's ever done because Melissa has so much fascinating stuff going on! The article discusses how she came to live in Philly and become an amateur archaeologist and composer. "In many ways, especially with the swearing thing, Philadelphia is the most Australian of U.S. cities. It’s the only city in America where my potty mouth doesn’t raise any eyebrows. They will match me F for F here.” Read the whole profile at the Inquirer website!


Probably the biggest news of the month is that Melissa was recently commissioned by the BBC Singers! On March 8th, Melissa's new piece I am the World was premiered by the BBC Singers for International Women's Day. You can listen to the whole concert for the next 3 weeks here—it's a terrific program, and the new song was extra well-received!

Listened and want to perform it? Sheet music for I am the World is now available here for you to download! As is usual for Melissa's self-published scores, you can download it for free on the condition that you let her know if you want to program it—if you're charging admission to your performance, it's $1.50 per score, just e-mail Melissa or her managerial assistant Dina and they'll send you an invoice.


    TONIGHT (Thursday March 17th) and Saturday March 20th, the Mendelssohn Chorus here in Philadelphia is giving the live premiere of A Slice of Pie, which Melissa wrote during the pandemic, setting poetry from Feminista Jones. Get your tickets to the concerts at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre here.

    On March 19th at 8PM, Cantus will sing N-400 Erasure Songs at the Goodrich Chapel in Albion, MI. Find more information here and a video of a previous performance below!
    On April 9th at 8PM, the National Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra will be giving the live world premiere of Eight of Swords at Carnegie Hall. Find tickets here!


A previous Cantus performance of N-400 Erasure Songs
    Last month, Melissa was in residence at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee! The residency culminated in the "Living Voices, Living Songs" choral performance and featured several of Melissa's pieces including It's strange about stars... and a new TTBB arrangement of Waves of Gallipoliwhich will hopefully be available via ECS soon (you can hear the premiere of that arrangement by the amazing Vancouver choir Chor Leoni here.
    From February 11th-24th, selections composed by Melissa from Maren Montalbano's one-woman show, The Bodice Ripper Project, were featured in Love Notes 2.0... Sour Notes. The virtual and live concert by the East Passyunk Opera Project was the second iteration of their Love Notes concert and focused, not on the lovely parts of love, but on breaking up, fighting, and being single. Maybe Love Notes 3.0 will be about getting back together? We'll have to wait and see!
    On March 11th, "From the Ashes She Became" and "Me Too" from Four Poems of Nikita Gill were performed as part of the "Girls of Yellow Diamonds" concert. This concert was presented by Wear Yellow Proudly to raise awareness and present pieces composed by female Asian and Asian-American composers in light of the one-year anniversary of the 2021 Atlanta shooting and International Women's Day.


Melissa was also interviewed by soprano and host Elizabeth Gentner on her podcast Opera Uprising. In the two-part no-holds-barred interview, they discuss various topics including what Melissa is working on, music composition as activism, the state of opera today, and the non-linear insanity of time. Check out part 1 and part 2 here!


There are two new episodes of The Boghouse!! In the first episode, Melissa and Matt updated folks on the last couple years and spoke about the 103 South Privy in the next! You can listen to both on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or Google Podcasts now! The Boghouse Gift Shop is also still open for all your privy merch needs.
That's it from me folks! Have a great rest of your month - stay cozy, stay safe, and dont' forget to take all!

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Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Happy New Year!!!!


Happy New Year!!!!

Melissa is starting 2022 off strong, with no punches held and no quips unsaid!

This month has already had Melissa all over this place, working on experiments in opera and film, podcast appearances, performances, and amassing a larger Twitter following by telling historians where to stick it! It's led to some fun moments, as pictured above - is she telling a privy story or is she warning (threatening?) the interviewer? You'll have to watch Melissa and Matt's interview with the Museum of American Revolution and find out for yourself!


In February, beloved Philadelphia mezzo Maren Montalbano will be performing selections from The Bodice Ripper Project, her one-woman show with songs by Melissa, for East Passyunk Opera Project—both live at Society Hill Dance Academy, and streaming online! The $35 ticket to the live show includes two complimentary cocktails for guests over 21—what a steal! 

The Singers will be performing American DREAMERS as part of their AT HOME concert on January 23rd at 2PM. If you're in Minneapolis that day, swing by the American Swedish Institute to check it out!

On February 13th (on the other side of the pond), the BBC Singers conducted by Howard Goodall will be singing Mourning into Dancing. Find tickets and venue information here!

This month, Melissa is also back at Theater Exile to sound design The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The show opens for previews on February 3rd with an awesome director and an awesome cast, so don't miss out!!

ADDITIONALLY! Melissa is working on new songs for a host of upcoming commissioners, including Skylark Ensemble, Lyric Fest, Washington and Lee University, and the BBC Singers! Stay tuned!
Be on the lookout: Lara St. John will also be releasing a studio recording of kommós soon—here's a previous video recording of the piece!


La Caccina performed the world premier of New Dreams, the piece based on the life and work of Grace Lee Boggs mentioned in last month's newsletter! Chicago Classical Review called this and Wild Embers the "compositional standouts of the night."
Voices of Concinnity performed Halcyon Days last month!
The Young New Yorkers' Chorus also performed Halcyon Days!
Grace and St. Peter's Choir performed O Oriens last month in Baltimore!
Production still from filming of Everything for Dawn.
Experiments in Opera and Film!!
Experiments in Opera began shooting the film project Everything for Dawn. The project consists of nine episodes written by different composer-librettist teams, and Krista Knight and Melissa were the team for episode 6! Omicron shut down the shoot before they were finished, but not before they got some great production shots! They will resume shooting when the surge has calmed down and release later this year. 

Meanwhile, check out this snippet of video from the shoot to get you excited!


  • Melissa just released a piano-vocal version of her baritone art song Black Thunder, a setting of Luke Stromberg's poem. Download this score here!
  • #UnitedWeDream from American DREAMers appears on Tonality's newly released album America Will Be featuring pieces which speak "directly to the injustices that have yet to be labeled." Buy/stream on Bandcamp, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Tidal!


On top of the MoAR interview, Melissa was also interviewed for The Composer Chronicles podcast! She talks about her process and how, if you want to be a composer, you need to write what you're passionate about and that music and composing are both political in nature. Listen to the episode wherever you get podcasts—here's the Apple Podcasts link.


The Boghouse Gift Shop is still open! And Melissa and Matt are selling mostly animal bones from the 1700s found in their privies! Bone earrings! Bone necklaces! Loose bones for crafts! Buy one to tide you over till the next (rumored to be soon) episode of The Boghouse!
That's it from me folks! Have a great rest of your month - stay cozy, stay safe all!

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