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[The Gonzales Cantata] is honestly, probably the coolest thing you've ever seen on this show. I know. I'm totally freaking out about it ... I spent all day obsessing about this, and watching clips of it online, and listening to the music, and I have to tell you, in my opinion, it is both great and kind of moving ... this is so cool, I could not contain myself.
— Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show
After a year with no shortage of pre-recorded performances, watching musicians play together live and unmasked — even through a computer screen — feels like a breath of fresh air.
Included in Melissa Dunphy’s sound design were ever-present sirens, realistic enough that I and many other would pause for a moment to lift one side of the headphones or turn the volume knob down just to see if there were actually police on their way.
— American Theatre
Contemporary composer Dr. Melissa Dunphy has made her mark on Philly in more ways than one. The Australia native has created a unique and enlightening musical experience by taking social or political commentary and transforming it into works of art.
— Metro Philadelphia
“I’m primarily a storyteller,” said Dunphy, whose musical oeuvre includes vocal, political, and theatrical compositions. Her website carries a mission statement to “bring the voices of women and minorities to the stage,” and she often sets prose that doesn’t easily lend itself to composition.
— Broad Street Review
Composing has always been in Dunphy’s blood as someone with a past in theater and music, but the history spin was sparked by some digging… literal digging in the dirt.
— Philly Metro
"I love setting really interesting cool, political texts to music," Dunphy said. "And then, I hear that the museum is bringing the letter to Philadelphia, and so then things just sort of started cooking. I was like, 'What if I write a choral piece for this?'"
— 6abc Action News
Dunphy has recontexualized the piece by removing the first line ‘Pioneers! O Pioneers!’ from each stanza,” says Isiguen, “Which completely changes the meaning.” Dunphy also intends the song, a call to arms against racial injustice, to be performed by a woman of color.
— Oregon ArtsWatch
This music made me want not only to eat more pies, but more importantly listen to sounds that made me feel at home, but also lyrics that made me think.
The composition raises up a life story involving immigration and the DREAM Act. The work is a collaboration between two artists—composer Melissa Dunphy and writer and photographer Claudia D. Hernández—with personal stories of immigration and refugeeism.
— Carleton College
[Dunphy's] Halcyon Days (text Jacqueline Goldfinger) is a radiant meditation of the sacred, the familiarity of ‘well-worn prayers’ and a rising up towards a dawn of joy and peace.
— Seen and Heard International
Melissa Dunphy’s Halcyon Days is a Rutter-esque ditty: a lovely ensemble narrative in which VOCES8 affectionately shaped the phrases and pointed the text; counterpoint and dialogue were counterposed with homophony, and the result was a beautifully concordant and consoling prayer.
— Opera Today
Dunphy gets laughs from the contrast between bureaucratic blather and Handelian arioso, at one point giving Gonzales, played by a soprano, a coloratura showpiece in which “I don’t recall” is repeated, as it was in the hearing, 72 times. (All the roles, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s only woman, are gender-reversed.)
— The New York Times
Composer Melissa Dunphy has taken the transcripts from the 2005 congressional hearings on then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, accused of improperly firing several attorneys, and has had performers sing those texts operatically, accompanied by organ.
— DC Metro Theater Arts
— Opera Philadelphia
Composer Melissa Dunphy’s work reminds us, perhaps even comforts us – we’ve been on the brink of political and moral disaster before.
— DC Theatre Scene
“Listen, Biden is aggressively fine for this moment in American history,” said Melissa Dunphy, a musician who joined the rally with a sign—featuring Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty—that read, “Fuck Around and Find Out.” Biden’s likely victory was, as Dunphy said, a “first step,” but nowhere close to the last gasp for Philadelphia’s progressive movement.
— Mother Jones
"I'm here because American democracy is at risk," said Melissa Dunphy, a college professor demonstrating with "Count Every Vote."
Melissa Dunphy’s The Gonzales Cantata, which will begin its run on In Series’ website November 3, is an opera with a unique libretto – transcripts of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ December 7, 2006 decision to fire seven United States Attorneys.
— DC Theatre Scene
Melissa Dunphy’s choice of words from Psalm 30 (‘Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing’) is adroit; the words bridge nicely from the introspection of Dickinson back to extrovert dancing for the last movement of this attractive Suite.
— MusicWeb International
I’m primarily a storyteller in my work, though, which is why I’ve always been particularly drawn to vocal music as a composer. And I tend to tell stories about the things that move me, whether that’s politics or social justice or complicated antiheroes.
— Classical Post
Inspired by Dunphy’s experiences with her husband as amateur archeologists, Alice Tierney focuses on the perspectives of four archeologists who unearth clues surrounding the mysterious death of the titular woman.
— Oberlin College & Conservatory
— Choral Arts
Alice Tierney follows four archaeologists as they unearth the mysterious history of the infamous Tierney, and each draw their own conclusion, Rashomon-style, from the evidence found.
— Broadway World
Acclaimed composer Melissa Dunphy visited Kennewick High School's choirs while in town for Mid-Columbia Mastersingers' weekend of concerts.
— Kennewick School District
The city of Philadelphia—and all of us—would be worse off if more people wanted to dig up privies for fun like the Dunphies. But the world would be a better place if more people had the raw wonder and enthusiasm of the Dunphies and if more people recognized the value of preserving and digging up privies.
— The Public Historian