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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
One work I hear them record, Halcyon Days by Melissa Dunphy, has particular poignancy. The final piece sung at the end of an academic year, it was also the first sung on returning from Covid, and Lapwood asks the singers to remember what it felt like to be together again after the challenges of the pandemic. It works.
Dunphy knows her life is “a bit like a fever dream,” but said she “wouldn’t trade it for the world.” “We always think things will settle down and become normal,” she said. “And over and over again, it fails to become a normal station.”
— The Philadelphia Inquirer
Cantus' most powerful offering was a set of two "N-400 Erasure Songs" by Melissa Dunphy, the texts created by erasing words from the N-400 U.S. naturalization form. They eloquently conveyed the aggressive agitation of bureaucracy and the warm comfort of a welcome.
— Star Tribune
When Matt and Melissa Dunphy bought an old building in the northern end of the Museum’s Old City neighborhood in Philadelphia in the mid-2010s, they had dreams of renovating the space into a multi-disciplinary theater.
— Museum of the American Revolution
Wave upon wave of heartache marked Melissa Dunphy’s “Waves of Gallipoli”... The music swelled, the choir heaved as one, and it was as if we could hear waves washing ashore throughout the sorrowful piece.
— Stir Publishing
Let's get political! Australian-born composer Dr. Melissa Dunphy joins Moveable Do this week to discuss growing up in Australia with immigrant parents and how that shaped her political ideology.
— Moveable Do
Each of the three movements proved powerful, the first haunting and mournful, while the second pulsed with the anxious spirit of one sinking in the quicksand of bureaucracy. But reassurance arrived in the program's finale, a beautifully moving embrace upon arrival for which Dunphy created both music and text.
— Star Tribune
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
"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
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
The song is my love letter to the women and the people of color back then who, you know, dreamed of a future like this, but maybe thought it was impossible. And it's also a love letter in a way to the future, because, I still think we have room to improve. I think we can get better still.
— NBC Philadelphia
Keturah interviews Australian composer, Melissa Dunphy, about why she considers herself a “political composer,” and what it was like composing to actual hearing transcripts for her piece, The Gonzales Cantata, about George W. Bush’s disgraced attorney general, Alberto Gonzales.
— Words First Podcast
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
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."