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Melissa Dunphy

Philadelphia, PA            

Born to refugee parents and raised in Australia, Melissa Dunphy immigrated to the United States in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and acclaimed composer specializing in vocal, political, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention in 2009 when her large-scale choral work the Gonzales Cantata, written while an undergraduate at West Chester University, was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, National Review, Comedy Central, and on Fox News and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. The Gonzales Cantata was subsequently staged by the American Opera Theater and played a sold-out run in Baltimore.

Dunphy’s first song cycle Tesla’s Pigeon has been recognized with several awards, including first place in the 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Composition Award. Her choral work What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition and has been performed around the country by ensembles including Chanticleer, Cantus, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus, who recorded it for their album American Declarations (Regent Records). Dunphy has also received awards from ASCAP, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, Boston Metro Opera, and Boston Choral Ensemble and her commissions include pieces for Experiments in Opera, National Concerts, Lyric Fest, The Thirteen, Resonance Ensemble, Choral Arts Philadelphia, PhilHarmonia, Opus Anglicanum (UK), Cornell University Chorus, mezzo-soprano Maren Montelbano, the Kennett Symphony Children’s Choir, and Piedmont Children’s Choir.

Dunphy has been composer-in-residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra (2010), Volti Choral Arts Lab (2013-2014), Volti Choral Institute (2016), and the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus (2015-2018). In addition to her concert and choral music, she is a Barrymore Award-nominated composer and sound designer working with Philadelphia-area theatres such as InterAct, Theatre Exile, People’s Light, Azuka Theatre, and Simpatico Theatre, and she has been Director of Music Composition at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Puppetry Conference since 2014.

Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. in Theory and Composition from West Chester University, and teaches composition at Rutgers University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Matt; the Dunphys are currently the owners and developers of the Hannah Callowhill Stage, a new performance venue in Old City Philadelphia which they hope to open in 2020, and co-hosts of a podcast about theater-building and amateur archaeology called The Boghouse.

More information and works at www.melissadunphy.com

Interview with New Music Box: Composing has to be a Calling

For more from this New Music Box cover feature, visit https://nmbx.newmusicusa.org/melissa-dunphy-composing-has-to-be-a-calling/

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What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?

Melissa Dunphy’s composition “What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” was selected as the winning work for the 2010 Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition. The Philadelphia-based composer’s choral work sets excerpts of public testimony given by a WWII veteran before the Maine Senate in a hearing to discuss the Marriage Equality Bill.

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The Rachel Maddow Show: GonzOpera

The Gonzales Cantata, as the name suggests, is a large-scale choral work about the fall of former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, with text taken directly from his hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007. The Gonzales Cantata was famously featured by Rachel Maddow on The Rachel Maddow Show and in national media such as the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The National Review, and on Fox News. See more at www.gonzalescantata.com

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