Monday, November 13, 2023

November Has Some Nice Notable News

Happy Halloween!

Hi loyal and dedicated fans of Melissa Dunphy,

Melissa: NB hahaha that greeting was not written by me, I swear. Hello, everyone, from the house of chaos a.k.a. Mormolyke Press, a.k.a. the Hannah Callowhill Stage, a.k.a. the Boghouse.

This past weekend, Melissa found a sherd from a tiny violin in a privy! A Halloween miracle! Also, how is it a sweltering 80 degrees in late October? Spooky. And sweaty.

Melissa: Since our last mass email back in May, life has only become more frantic (in a good way, though I could really use more sleep). First up, some HR news: Kira landed a whizz-bang full-time job working audio for ESPN up in Connecticut! We are sad to lose her from the MP office and the Philly area, but so excited to see her working in her chosen field. My cat, Nairobi, especially misses her. But we have a new addition to the team: everyone please welcome Dan!

Dan Virgen headshot

Adah: I met Dan totally by chance last March, at a pretty strange gig at the Ruba Club in Northern Liberties. We had both been hired into the band off of Facebook, and hit it off once we realized we were both composers – we stayed in touch and collaborated on a pretty epic orchestral recording project this past August. Happy to have him joining us at team Mormolyke!

Dan: Hello, loyal Dunphites – I’m from Weehawken, New Jersey and currently study Composition at Temple University with Dr. Dougherty. I play double bass in the orchestra and electric bass in basements.

Adah: Anyways, we’re here to provide a long overdue update on what Melissa has been up to over the summer: lots of new interviews, releases, performances, and other exciting upcoming events!


L-R Yomi Park, Annabrett Ruggiero, Laura Beth Couch, Jiayu Li, Kira St. Pierre, and Madalyn Ivy strike a pose during “I am Alice 3.” Photo by Matt Dunphy.

Melissa: The biggest news is that Alice Tierney, the opera I wrote for Oberlin with librettist Jacqueline Goldfinger, has been produced again! A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I headed up to Boston University for their magnificent production.

Singers Heejae Kim, Shengnan Yang, Eunjin Lee, Lauren Barchi, Caitlyn Huez, Youjin Cho, and Lindsay Cherin run through Alice Tierney for the first time with conductor Kynan Johns and Melissa at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. Photo by Matt Dunphy.

Adah: Alice Tierney is also being produced at Rutgers University this December

Melissa: Home turf for me! It’s amazing to see familiar faces digging into the show—and so far, this is the closest Alice Tierney has come to the place where the action is actually set (i.e. Callowhill Street, Philadelphia).

Adah: ...and there’s another production coming up in Wisconsin at Lawrence University in February. We’re so happy that it’s receiving so many subsequent performances! If you’re looking to produce the opera, don’t hesitate to get in touch :)

Melissa: On my website, I’ve also added a link to download the Alice Tierney piano-vocal score online, so get it there now (downloads for perusal are, as always, free).

Adah: If you click on that “Download score” link, you will notice that we’ve finally implemented a new score order form on Melissa’s website! As much as I love asking the same questions of each and every one of you, you can now just fill out the form with some basic information, and I’ll send the Paypal invoice as soon as possible and follow up for additional details/concert programs as needed. Remember that if your performance is free to attend, there is no need to pay for scores (but we’d still love to receive your programs for ASCAP reporting)!


Dan: Like a true composer superstar, Melissa Dunphy’s Four Poems of Nikita Gill was recently recorded by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Leemhuis and pianist Samuel Martin. Before She Became Fire was released by BCM+D records, the record label of Temple University, my school! The album features song cycles by three contemporary American women composers: Lori Laitman, Judith Cloud, and of course, Melissa Dunphy.

Melissa: You can also hear a little bit about the music on the album in this episode of So Lit Song Lit, a podcast by Cincinnati Song Initiative. Also, I have no idea how GRAMMY nominations work, but if you *do* know, they have submitted it “For Your Consideration.”

Melissa: After a successful kickstarter campaign, Portland-based choir Resonance Ensemble, conducted by the amazing Katherine FitzGibbon, is releasing their debut full-length album, LISTEN.

Adah: (Melissa’s piece is the title track, omg)

Melissa: I wrote LISTEN for Resonance in 2019 in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings; the text pairs her words with those of Anita Hill in 1991. The premiere was genuinely one of the most emotional, cathartic performances I’ve ever witnessed in my life, so it’s incredibly special that Resonance chose this work for their album. The image above links to the album on Spotify, or if you’re the type who enjoys physical media, you can pick up a CD on their website.


  • Adah: The score for Melissa’s soprano and clarinet duet, Chants, is now up on the website! The work sets 4 poems from Australian artist, poet, and Witch Rosaleen Norton, and features an epic Halloween-esque drawing by her on the front cover of the score.

  • Melissa: Here’s a new short choral song I wrote for the Singing City Songbook—a setting of the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay". The whole songbook is great for community choirs, with dozens of new songs from living composers, and is available directly from Singing City.

  • Adah: In July, Mitchell Sturges and Sara Cahall premiered Melissa’s new song cycle, Hymns of Hildegard. You can listen to the beautiful recording here, and the score is now up on her website!

  • Melissa: The anthem I wrote for the Association of Anglican Musicians in 2020, Lamb of God, is now up on the website. (Curious about the image I chose for the cover? Read more in this Twitter thread. I refuse to call it X.)

  • Adah: By popular request, there are now versions of Eat the Rich for soprano and mezzo available, check it out.

  • Melissa: A new TTBB arrangement of Waves of Gallipoli has been published by EC Schirmer—stay tuned for more ECS publications in the works in the next few months!


Melissa Dunphy: Melissa Dunphy talks about "Simplicity"

Melissa: This nightowl artist woke up at an ungodly hour (i.e. 7AM) to present at CreativeMornings Philadelphia in September on the topic of simplicity—which was no mean feat given that I’m a self-described maximalist! Watch here to see if the coffee kicked in. And there are some awesome photos from the event by Steve Weinik (who also does fantastic work with Mural Arts) here.

Decomposition cover art

Melissa: Opera Philadelphia asked me a bunch of questions for an interview on their Opera Blog.

Horse in the Toilet & Super-powered Bug Pee | The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week | S7E9

Melissa: Right after the last newsletter went out, I appeared on the Popular Science podcast The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week to talk about—what else—the time I found a rotting horse in an old toilet. What is my life? Listen wherever you get podcasts, or above on YouTube.

Episode 158: Is All Art is Political? With Melissa Dunphy

I also appeared on the Choralosophy podcast to bat around the idea that all music is political. Contentious? I don’t think so, but maybe you do.


Melissa: Hey, did you know that you can currently see upcoming concerts where my works are being performed on the News page of my website? It takes a second to load, but there’s a widget on the right of the page that shows all the programs we know about featuring my stuff, so you can check to see if there’s a performance near you. You can also scan upcoming performances of my music directly on Songkick. One of Dan’s duties in the office is to update this list, so keep an eye out!

Adah: If you want to meet us in person, all three of us will all be attending the ACDA East regional conference this February in Providence – let us know if we’ll see you there! Looking forward to talking to everybody and handing out a ton of free scores at the super-cool Mormolyke Press Team Booth ;)

Melissa: This year, I’ll hit FIFTY (50) choral compositions in my catalog (!!!) so I figured it was time I planted myself at conferences rather than force Adah to drag around 50lb of scores in the Hulken bag (although I still love that bag).

Dan: Aside from the super-cool Press Team Booth, you should definitely check out this session focused on storytelling — Dr. Mitos Andaya-Hart and the PhilHarmonia Chamber Choir will be performing a whole bunch of Melissa’s works. We’ll certainly be there, and hope you can attend!

Adah: Also, coming up in January 2024 is the NOA Conference in Tempe, where you’ll also find all of us, along with dozens of Alice Tierney scores. Again, if you’d like to meet up, shoot me an email and we’ll get it in the calendar.

Melissa: Plus, I have a bunch of new commissions in the works, including new music for Mendelssohn Chorus, Chor Leoni, and electrifying jetsetting mezzo Raehann Bryce-Davis (who just made her Met debut)! If you want to support that last one, which involves the recording of a new album of commissions by Raehann, you can at this GoFundMe.

AND there’s news of another commission I can’t wait to tell you about, but I have a rule never to announce anything until the contract is executed, so you’ll just have to be patient. Hint: Matt and I are going to be back in the UK next summer! Speaking of which…


In June, Matt and I went on a second whirlwind tour of the UK, this time driving all the way from London to Culloden in Scotland! I just can’t get enough of the history, especially when it’s relevant to the artifacts we find on our block in Philadelphia.

I’m so happy I snapped this picture of Sycamore Gap as we drove past, and SO DEVASTATED by what happened to the tree earlier this month.

Interested in what we learned in our travels to Culloden and beyond? In March next year, Matt and I will be presenting at From the Ground Up: Ceramics in Context, a bi-annual ceramics conference, hosted by Colonial Williamsburg, and we’ll be talking a lot about the history our artifacts have led to us uncovering. We’re getting pretty good at it, at this point; on Sunday night, some friends of ours from the Museum of the American Revolution dropped by in a surprise visit to show a group of around twenty re-enactors and historians what we’ve been doing. It was wild! But I never say no to folks who can listen to me babble about the inhabitants of our neighborhood in the 18th-century.

Adah: We’ve definitely forgotten a few things, but all the more reason to send out our next newsletter in a slightly more timely manner. Hope you enjoyed this long overdue MD update, and see you all next time!

Melissa Dunphy and the team at Mormolyke Press

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

A Very New and Exciting Newsletter




It’s been one of the most B-A-N-A-N-A-S springs of my life, and I have been running myself ragged, which is why you haven’t heard from me since I groused about the BBC Singers attempted disbandment back in March. Those of you who were following that travesty know that the BBC walked back their decision, in part thanks to the immense public outcry so that’s some good news! The fight is not over, however, and I hope you’ll join me in being vigilant and rising the hell up when incredible arts institutions like the BBC Singers are attacked (as they are apparently constantly by people who don’t understand the necessity of art to human civilization and well-being).

First order of business: since my last newsletter, in response to the burgeoning administrative responsibilities of my career, we have welcomed a second assistant to Mormolyke Press at the Hannah Callowhill Stage! Meet Kira Mahoney, whom I first met as a composition student when she was finishing her degree in Music and Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology. Kira was initially supposed to come on board late last year, but she was working as an audio engineer for the Philadelphia Eagles and needed to wait until their season was finished. “I’m sure that will happen soon,” I figured. Reader, it did not. But now that that’s all done with, I’m so happy to have her in the office with Adah and me!

Kira Mahoney headshot

The biggest news since my last proper newsletter, of course, is that my one-act opera, Alice Tierney, with libretto by Jacqueline Goldfinger, premiered at Oberlin Conservatory, and then received its professional premiere at Opera Columbus in late March. It went SO WELL! I cannot tell you how life-changing it was to see Jackie’s words and my music brought to life on stage by these incredible young artists. 

Curtain call of Alice Tierney, opening night premiere at Oberlin Conservatory

More Alice Tierney news: I recently commissioned UK-based artist Caroline Church to create cover art for the score in the style of a 19th-century engraving. If you compare the faces in her illustration below to the cast above, you might notice that Caroline was able to incorporate Oberlin’s three versions of Alice into the art, so the singers who premiered the roles will be immortalized on the score cover forever.

Curious to see a full video of the Oberlin production? Shoot me a reply and let me know, and I’ll see what I can do ;)

If, on the other hand (or additionally) you want to see a copy of the score, I can help you out there too! Adah, Kira and I have been busy printing and binding scores to hand out at the Opera America conference in Pittsburgh this week—they’re literally hard at work binding scores as I type this newsletter—and we have extra copies that you can purchase on Bandcamp at basically cost. It’s $10 for the piano-vocal score, or if you are a soprano and want some ready-made excerpted arias to sing at your next recital or audition, here’s a collection of three arias for only $3 (plus shipping in both cases).

For good measure, I also threw the organ score for the Gonzales Cantata up on Bandcamp, since we’ve been printing those out for distribution at Opera America too ($8 + S&H).

More info about new scores towards the end of this newsletter, which is going to be way too long, apologies in advance.

One of the reasons I am losing my mind and physical health right now (I’m doing my best to get over an allergy-assisted respiratory infection as I type this) is that this spring has been jam-packed with travel. Round-up incoming…

I did a week-long residency at Seattle University, whose choirs performed a concert that included a bunch of my works, including American DREAMers. Coincidentally, the AWP writers conference was happening at the same time, so in an amazing bit of kismet, I was also able to run into Janine Joseph and Claudia D. Hernández, who wrote two of the texts included in American DREAMers! Claudia attended the Seattle U concert, along with two of my best friends from Australia, Jason and James, who were also coincidentally in town. Seattle, you are kind of magic!!?!?

Selfie with Seattle U choirs

Adah and I traveled to the American Choral Directors Association conference in Cincinnati (too much to say, not even going to try to recap), and to New York City with Matt for a performance of Eight of Swords at Carnegie Hall.

Carnegie Hall

In my first ever trip to Vermont, I traveled to Yellow Barn for a residency with Glass Clouds Ensemble, culminating in the delivery of a fun little commissioned work for soprano and two violins, Decomposition—score available at that link if you’re interested. The score cover art is a sketch I drew when I was a 16-year-old baby goth who dreamed of becoming a forensic pathologist:

Decomposition cover art

A few weeks ago, Matt and I drove to Allentown for a whole concert of my music with the choirs of Muhlenberg College, including Amendment: Righting Our Wrongs. Their chapel is a beautiful venue that makes every photo look like a Dutch group portrait:

Posing with the choirs of Muhlenberg College

Two Saturdays ago, I was in Alexandria, VA, for the premiere of You Birth the Seeds with the Alexandria Choral Society, with text by Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, Zeina Azzam. Recording coming soon, but you can check out the score at the link above.

Chorus director Brian Isaac, me, and poet Zeina Azzam

Matt and I drove home at midnight after that concert, and by 5AM, I was at the airport for a trip to Duluth for a workshop with the Lake Superior Youth Chorus, who premiered a new commission Change this past Sunday. Honestly I was too busy meeting the fabulous young singers to remember to take a selfie, but check out this cover art for my score drawn by choir member Lexi Gustafson (more singer-created artwork inspired by Change at the score link above):

Change cover art

And as I already implied, tomorrow Adah and I are hitting the road again for the Opera America conference. If you’re in Pittsburgh and want to connect, stop by my exhibitor table next to the elevator to meet me and Jackie Goldfinger! I printed out this giant banner, so you won’t be able to miss us. Also I am getting over laryngitis, which is good news or bad news, depending on whether or not you think I talk too much.

Giant Alice Tierney banner and unwashed composer

Let’s see, what else?

In addition to a new TTBB arrangement of Halcyon Days, I am the World, the song I wrote for the BBC Singers, has been published by Edition Peters. Listen I would be lying if I said it didn't give me a FEEL seeing my name in THE FONT:

I am the World

Couple delayed premieres! First one I should mention is Mabel Lee, 1912, whose first performance was cancelled by COVID back in 2020. It’s been premiered now by the William and Mary Botetourt Chamber Singers, so the score is newly available for you to download! This was a collaboration with poet Esther Lin, and I can’t wait to share the recording once the Bots post it. I remember writing this song during some of the darkest days of the pandemic, and when I heard a rehearsal recording, I had a really cathartic cry.

Mabel Lee, 1912

Next premiere is really delayed: I wrote a short and sweet little art song back when I was in undergrad fifteen years ago (!!!) called a summer more like a song (poem by Sueyeun Juliette Lee), and it’s never been premiered—until now! Never lose hope, better late than never, etc. Performed at a BIPOC Voices Showcase in Vancouver by baritone Henry Chen, with Francisco Barradas on violin, Judy Lou on cello, and Rich Coburn on piano:

Soundcloud link: a summer more like a song

While you’re in a listening mood, why not check out Everything for Dawn, now on the Opera Philadelphia channel if you happen to subscribe (which you should). This video opera series is also available on NYC’s ALL-ARTS, but I’m pretty thrilled to see it on my hometown opera company’s streaming service:

Everything for Dawn at Opera Philadelphia

And finally, Kira’s helped created a score follow video for Songs for the People, which I wrote for Seattle Pro Musica last year. Hear them perform it here, and download the score for free here.

Songs for the People (SATB)

Is that everything? Well, no. Like I said, it’s been OUT OF CONTROL around here. I’m hanging on for dear life, as are Kira and Adah! But a final fun thing: we’re still doing archaeology stuff, somehow. Right before we drove down to Alexandria last week, Matt and I did a walking tour for Hidden City. Matt did most of the work, prepping lots of information and history about our neighborhood (see the mobile-friendly slideshow he created here!) but I also had an opportunity to yap about 18th-century privy artifacts to a super friendly crowd of interested folks. I’ll leave you with this last image as I dive back into my massive to-do list…

Wow, you made it to the end! Thanks for reading this long thing.

Melissa Dunphy

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Rabble rousing: save the BBC singers


Hello! Melissa Dunphy here, interrupting my usual sluggish newsletter schedule because I woke up this morning to devastating news: the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, is disbanding the BBC Singers.

I'm so upset, I'm practically vibrating. The BBC Singers drew some of my best work out of me last year when they commissioned me to write I am the World (published and due to be released any day now by Edition Peters). They are one of the only professional choirs in the world to truly care about gender equity on their programs—they always have an even split of male and female composers on their programs, and they've commissioned so many works from composers such as Joanna Marsh, Cecilia McDowall, Roxanna Panufnik, Sun Keting, Errollyn Wallen and Roderick Williams. Their impact on choral music in Britain and internationally is immeasurable.

I have to (slightly facetiously) wonder if this announcement was timed to drop after the ACDA conference in Cincinnati last week, when 10,000+ choral directors and singers gathered in Cincinnati (along with Adah and me and our Hulken bag full of scores). Personally if I had known about this, I would have done my utmost to turn the conference into a solidarity protest march, and converted my table at the Composers Fair into a rabble-rousing situation room. While I've seen many British people on social media react with sadness, I'm livid. You know Americans, we have a history of causing impolite trouble; if I lived locally, I would be taking to the streets right now (perhaps the BBC would be forced to censor my sign again, lol).

Anyway, I never know how much good online petitions do, and maybe this is all done and dusted, but if you love choral music as much as I do, consider signing this petition to at the very least tell the BBC how much this sucks:

I mean, if I had known this was coming down the pike, I would have followed my irresponsible impulse last year to hop on a red-eye to London and see one of the three concerts where the BBC Singers programmed my music at the 900-year-old Temple Church or the Barbizon Center, but I foolishly assumed there would be future opportunities, and now I have to regret till my dying day that I'll never see the BBC Singers perform my stuff in person. In the scheme of things, of course I'm more upset on behalf of the singers and others who are directly impacted, but the heartbreak is real.

Here's audio of their premiere of I am the World at Temple Church in case you haven't heard it and want to understand wny I'm so heated right now:

Signing off from Seattle, where I'm currently the Composer-in-Residence at Seattle University, whose choir is performing a bunch of my stuff on Friday night (if you're around, come see!).

But seriously, sign that petition, just in case.

Melissa Dunphy