Born in Australia and raised in an immigrant family, Melissa Dunphy herself 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 when her large-scale work the Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, National Review, and on Fox News and The Rachel Maddow Show, where host Rachel Maddow described it as "the coolest thing you've ever seen on this show." Other notable works include the song cycle Tesla's Pigeon, which won first place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, and choral work What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? which won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Competition and has been performed nationally by ensembles including Chanticleer and Cantus.

In 2024, Dunphy was awarded and Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts. She was the recipient of a 2020 Opera America Discovery Grant for Alice Tierney, an opera commissioned by Oberlin Conservatory which premiered in 2023 at Oberlin and Opera Columbus. She has been composer-in-residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, Volti, and the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, and her commissions include works for the BBC Proms, the BBC Singers, VOCES8, Cantus, the Mendelssohn Chorus, ACDA Eastern, the American Guild of Organists, and the Kennett Symphony. Dunphy is also a Barrymore Award-nominated theater composer and served from 2014-2023 as Director of Music Composition for the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference.

Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. from West Chester University and is on faculty at Rutgers University. She is president of the board of directors for Wildflower Composers and serves on the board of Lyric Fest. 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 2026, and co-hosts of the popular podcast The Boghouse about their adventures in Philadelphia colonial archaeology.


  1. As a composer, I believe that music is not only a form of expression but a means of communication. My primary mission is to connect with my audience so that they discover and understand the ideas, emotions, and narratives in my music.
  2. I want my music to be relevant to the world around it and exist in that world. It is inspired by and explores real-world issues of social justice and personal relationships.
  3. I am deeply committed to bringing the voices of women and minorities to the stage, either by telling their stories, or telling stories from their perspective.

Speaking Engagements

Melissa is available for residencies, speaking engagements, colloquia, and clinics related to her works, contemporary composition, the business of composing, political music, and colonial archaeology in Philadelphia. Rates start at $200 for a one-hour Zoom session. Please contact to discuss bookings and receive quotes.