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What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? (2010)

for SATB choir | 07:00

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Public domain

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A moving choral setting of excerpts of public testimony given before the Maine Senate by WWII veteran Phillip Spooner in a hearing to discuss the Marriage Equality Bill on April 22, 2009. Nearly 4,000 people attended the hearing, with marriage equality supporters out-numbering the opposition 4 to 1. On November 2, 2009, Maine voters repealed the bill that allowed same-sex couples the right to marry.

Featured on Towleroad, ChoralNet Blog, The Albany Times Union (David Griggs-Janower), Joe. My. God., Good As You, Slacktivist, KCMetropolis (plus additional interview), Instinct Magazine's "Video of the Day" (June 2, 2010), My Big Gay Ears, Street Prophets.

"Melissa Dunphy’s piece What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? is quite remarkable, not least for the choice of text... Dunphy's music is unsettling and it’s a very individual setting which respects speech rhythms very well. It’s a thought-provoking piece not least for Spooner’s very moving sentiments." []

"You're also going to want to hear Melissa Dunphy's unique and affecting setting of - of all things - a WWII veteran's testimony on matters of sexual equality given before the Mine State Senate. 'My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that our gay son would be left out,' he told them. 'We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good.' Amen." [American Record Guide]

"The most individual work is Melissa Dunphy's What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?; Dunphy shows great ingenuity and individuality in this powerful setting of Philip Spooner's public testimony before the State of Maine Senate discussing the Marriage Equality Bill." [Choir & Organ]

"Dunphy's music has hints of an almost Copland-like robustness and makes effective use of imitation in a way that suggests a twenty-first-century composer with a strong sense of counterpoint." [International Record Review]

"A bold and highly effective setting of a thought-provoking text." [Simon Carrington]

“This piece demonstrates to me how a true artist is able to take even a most unlikely source of inspiration and yet create a new work of art from it,” says Barnes. “It is for others to argue the case behind Philip Spooner’s words, but Melissa Dunphy’s music certainly poses the question in a new and telling light.” [Philip Barnes]

"The final piece on the program was Melissa Dunphy’s stunning 2010 “What Do You Think I Fought for at Omaha Beach?” Excerpts from veteran Philip Spooner’s testimony before the Maine Senate, in a hearing on the Marriage Equality Bill, its music ranges from the Coplandesque to the martial. The touching text and moving music were made powerful by the SLCC’s performance." [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

"A newly commissioned work by Melissa Dunphy followed: “What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” Dunphy’s music was exceptional, with supple lines effectively depicting the words of a veteran, and acerbic harmonies specifically setting the text 'I’ve seen so much, so much blood and guts.'" [Kansas City Star]

"Simon Carrington gave his reasoning behind selecting Dunphy's work as the winner. "There were plenty of excellent pieces in the sweet-sounding modern idiom which SCCS would make very beautiful, but the strongest (and most individual) piece was Melissa Dunphy's What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? - a bold and highly effective setting of a thought-provoking text." []


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  • Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition 2010