Friday, November 04, 2022

A Very New and Exciting Newsletter


Hi Newsletter Subscribers!

This is Melissa’s new assistant, Adah, writing to you about everything Melissa’s been up to since the last “monthly” newsletter was sent out in, um, March! She’s been extremely busy lately with travel and writing tons of new music, and is now on a very deliberate commission sabbatical to recharge. 

Melissa: Yay, Adah! My previous assistant, Dina, who has stage-managed my life and 100% saved my sanity over the 18 months, recently got a swanky opportunity as a fulltime ops manager—I’m so happy for her, but also 😭😭😭—so Adah (who btw you should all know is also an awesome young composer!) has been taking over a bunch of administrative things here at Mormolyke Press in the meantime. Also, Claris, who wrote the last few newsletters, has been flat-out studying for her law degree, and WOW do I know some talented smart young folks or what!? Anyway, it’s been ages since a newsletter has gone out because there’s been SO MUCH news, that every time I start compiling the news, I get completely overwhelmed. Like, will anyone even read a newsletter this long...?

Adah: I may be biased, but I personally think you should totally read a newsletter this long. Melissa, it’s been a crazy seven months for you – what do you think all of the loyal fans need to know?

Melissa: Let’s start with the big stuff…


Melissa: I’ve mentioned Everything for Dawn before in this newsletter, but it’s been a while, so a refresher: this episodic project from NYC company Experiments in Opera tells the story of a young woman and her troubled relationship with her outsider artist father. Each episode is written by a different composer-librettist team, but the story and the cast are consistent. When the pandemic hit, Everything for Dawn was reimagined as a video project, which honestly is even more exciting to me than if it had been a live show, not only because it opens up whole new avenues of how an opera can be creatively presented, but because now you don’t have to live close to NYC to see it. I wrote the sixth episode, “At the Crack of Dawn,” with librettist Krista Knight, and as of today, all ten episodes are available to stream on All Arts TV, a streaming service from New York’s PBS station WNET. Click to watch!

 This line from Krista’s libretto was maybe my favorite part to set, haha:

Adah: Very nice.

Melissa: In the lead-up to the Everything for Dawn release, I had the most amazing conversation with Olivia Giovetti, who wrote it up for VAN Magazine. Olivia and I have both been really open about our own experiences with our parents’ mental health struggles, so there was a lot about the plot of the show that resonated with us—and although I wasn’t in the EiO writers’ room when the plot was finalized, some of my very specific experiences made it into the libretto of my episode.

Adah: Back in July, you and Matt traveled to the UK to visit some archaeology museums, right? 

Melissa: YES! It was the first overseas trip we’d taken in yeeeeears, but it wasn’t a vacation; it was a research trip to learn more about the artifacts in our privies and chat with archaeologists and museum experts in Amsterdam, London, and Stoke-on-Trent (also helpful when you’re currently writing an archaeology opera). 

Melissa: Here's Matt and I at the top of the Saxon Tower of St Michael at the North Gate in Oxford, built in 1040 (!). If you’re interested, you can see a bunch more pictures from our trip at the Boghouse Instagram

BUT ALSO, a few weeks before we flew over, I discovered that the Choir of St. Paul’s, Burlingame, California, were in residence at Wells Cathedral, and the last day of our trip coincided with the Evensong premiere of a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis they commissioned from me for the occasion. I had the extremely surreal “pinch me” experience of walking into a gob-smacking famous 12th-century cathedral just in time to hear my own music being rehearsed by the choir in the quire, and luckily Matt kept his cellphone camera rolling:
Click to watch Matt's POV video on Twitter...
The Choir of St. Paul’s also commissioned artist Margit van der Zwan, to create a portrait of me! Margit has honored many other composers (especially women composers) in her visual art, and now you can purchase my face on all sorts of merch, including posters, tote bags, and shirts (!!??!). 

Margit’s Etsy Store

Adah: I know that I would love to be seen walking around with Melissa’s face on my tote bag – wouldn’t you?

Melissa: OMG I think I would immediately freak out and die if I ever saw someone wearing my face on a t-shirt in the wild. So get one if you want to witness me doing that.

Melissa: In other very exciting news, my solo violin piece, Kommos, is featured on a new album by Lara St. John (How do I love her? Let me count the ways!), called she/her/hers. The photo above is from the album launch performance in the gorgeous Crypt under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem. You can learn more about the album and purchase CDs on Lara’s website, or listen on SpotifyiTunes, etc. 

Adah: But wait…is that…is that me on the left of that photo? Turns out that my composition, whitewashed, appears on Lara’s album too! I wrote the piece right as I began studying with Melissa through Wildflower Composers (formerly known as the Young Women Composers Camp). Oh, and also, Melissa is now president of the board for Wildflower, which is very very cool—anyhow, go check out those recordings of both of our compositions and please enjoy!

Melissa: See, everyone, didn’t I say Adah is an awesome young composer? I’m so proud to be teaching her! Also btw, if you happen to be a GRAMMY voter, she/her/hers is under consideration in the Classical Solo category, so uh, please consider it! I don’t know how these things work, but Lara deserves all the accolades.

Adah: But that’s not the only new recording featuring your music, is it? Last I checked, your name is popping up all over the place…

Melissa: Yes, some huge news! Two songs I wrote, Halcyon Days and O Oriens, were recorded by the Choirs of Pembroke for their album, A Pembroke Christmas, directed by superstar conductor and organist Anna Lapwood. Anna, who is so lovely and talented and accomplished (at only 27!) that I don't have the words to do her justice, was recently profiled in Gramophone magazine (!!!) by journalist Martin Cullingford, who described Halcyon Days as having “particular poignancy." You can find it on Spotify or buy the album directly from Signum Records here.

And here's a YouTube video of the choir performing Halcyon Days. They sound so good! 
Halcyon Days - Melissa Dunphy
Anna Lapwood & The Choirs of Pembroke College, Cambridge
Adah: O Oriens also appears on TWO other albums being given commercial releases this holiday season? Whaaattttt????

Melissa: Yeah! Brand-new UK choral group the Setra Consort included it on their debut album In Beauty May I Walk:
O Oriens · Melissa Dunphy & Setra Consort
In Beauty May I Walk ℗ 2022 Setra Consort
Released on: 2022-09-16
Melissa: And another choir based in York (the UK one, not the Pennsylvania one, haha), the Ebor Singers, recorded it for Wishes and Candles: American Christmas Music, along with songs by many of my dear composer buddies like Abbie Betinis and Jake Runestad! You can also apparently pre-order the physical CD at Barnes and Noble.

Adah: While searching Spotify for Melissa’s music, we noticed two whole recordings of Wild Embers that we haven’t mentioned in this newsletter before! A nice problem to have, I guess?

Melissa: Good surprises! German youth choir LaCappella Nuova recorded Wild Embers after performing it in the ruins of Arnsberg Abbey in Hesse last year. Arnsburg Abbey was founded in 1174, which makes it one year older than Wells Cathedral. Maybe I should make "music to be performed in 900yo buildings" my thing? Listen on Spotify... 

And Mansfield University choir recorded Wild Embers during the pandemic and released it on Spotify as well.

Adah: Alright, for those of you who want to know how to get Melissa Dunphy on your programs:

New Sheet Music Releases

Melissa: We Are the Music Makers, for SATB choir and piano, was commissioned by the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus in 2021, and is now available from EC Schirmer. If you want to know a bit about my inspiration for the song, I recorded a promo video for them, and here’s a score follow video:
Melissa: Also hot off the press at ECS is a new TTBB arrangement of Waves of Gallipoli, released as part of the new Erick Lichte Choral Series. Erick is the director of Chor Leoni, who commissioned this arrangement of an SATB work I originally wrote for the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus (spoiler: I have a commission coming up for Chor Leoni in 2024, keep your eyes peeled!)

There’s also a bunch of self-published stuff available on my website now that a solid batch of premieres have passed. As usual with my self-published music, you can download the scores for free (here’s my pricing policy)—check them out and send them to all your performer and conductor friends! 

  • Two Preludes for Organ—a couple of short pieces commissioned by Carson P. Cooman
  • Mag & Nunc for St Paul’s, Burlingame 
  • The Cat & The Moon—commissioned by the W&L University Singers and premiered on their recent tour to Ireland
  • SATOR—a setting of the magic square commissioned by Skylark Vocal Ensemble for the concert "Hidden Symbols, Secret Codes."
  • Mel et Lac—commissioned by University of Cincinnati Choruses for Alta Petit, Heri et Hodie, and Highlands High School Bel Canto
  • Eat the Rich—commissioned by Lyricfest
  • I am the World—commissioned by BBC Radio 3
  • Amendment: Righting Our Wrongs—commissioned by a consortium spearheaded by Chorosynthesis
  • Grown Wildcommissioned by Concord Women’s Chorus

  • Adah: So, Melissa, what do we have from you to look forward to in the near future?

    Upcoming Performances

    Melissa: If you’re in Philly this weekend, come see the premiere performance of The Canticle of Hannah by Singing City choir—I’ll be there, so come say hi to me! The new work is a set of two songs for SATB choir and piano, with a text honoring Hannah Callowhill, whom you’ll already know all about if you’ve listened to episode 6 of The Boghouse 

    Purchase tickets to the concert here, and after the concert, I’ll be putting the sheet music up on my website.

    Adah: Next week, Melissa is flying to the West Coast for a residency with Seattle Pro Musica, which includes the premiere of a new commission Songs for the People (lyrics by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper). Also on the program are a bunch of her other works, including N-400 Erasure SongsWild Embers, and excerpts from American DREAMers. How exciting!

    Melissa: I’ve been so busy that I have had an unedited episode of the Boghouse sitting in my to-do folder for six months, but if for some reason you’re hankering to hear the sound of my voice, Sascha Groschang and Laurel Parks interviewed me for an episode of KCUR’s Sound Currentsabout composers inspired by birds.

    And Jackie Goldfinger, my librettist for Alice Tierney, and I appear in a recently released episode of the Indie Opera Podcast.

    Honestly, the past few months have been B-A-N-A-N-A-S. There’s too much to talk about that I haven’t even mentioned yet: Puppet CampDish Camp, a residency at DePauw University, the Opera America conference in's too much. but I do want to mention two more things really quickly:

    Adah: Melissa and I will both be attending the ACDA conference in Cincinnati this February – let us know if you’ll be there! We’ll be bringing a massive bag full of scores and other goodies, and I’ve started working on some choral music of my own to bring along…let us know if you're attending and want to meet up, or just come say hi if you spot us!

    Melissa: And on a final note, there are two job openings I want to tell you about, in case you know interested potential applicants:

  • Wildflower Composers, in conjunction with Asian Arts Initiative, is looking for a resident composer and teaching artist for spring 2023. This is an awesome opportunity to engage with the next generation of musicians, and includes a commission, so send interested composers to this link to apply.
  • Rutgers Music Department, where I am on faculty, is looking for a new director. Perks include: I will totally grab coffee with you when I'm on campus and regale you with the worst academic composer gossip from around the world, I'm incorrigible (but fun?). Academic music types can find the job posting on the Rutgers website.

  • Adah: WAIT – just one last thing before you go: this Tuesday is election day, and DO NOT FORGET to get out there and vote! That’s it for today; I promise!

    Until next time,

    Melissa and Adah