Melissa Dunphy


Born and raised in Australia, Melissa Dunphy moved to the United States in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and acclaimed composer specializing in political and theatrical music. She first came to national attention in 2009 when her large-scale choral work the Gonzales Cantata, written while still 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 a Spirit of Tesla award by the Tesla Science Foundation, first place in the 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Composition Award, the American Prize, and inclusion in the Chicago Ensemble Discover America VIII. 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. Dunphy has also received awards from ASCAP, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, Boston Metro Opera, Boston Choral Ensemble, and the Secret Opera, and commissions include pieces for Ensemble Epomeo, Choral Arts Philadelphia, Opus Anglicanum (UK), mezzo-soprano Maren Montelbano, harpist Shana Norton, Voice of this Generation, the Kennett Symphony Children’s Choir, Piedmont Children's Choir, and Whitman College Chamber Singers.

Dunphy has been the composer-in-residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra (2010), the Volti Choral Arts Lab (2013-2014), and the Volti Choral Institute (2016), and is currently the composer-in-residence of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus (2015-2017). In addition to her concert and choral music, she composes frequently for Philadelphia-area theatres such as People’s Light, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, and Gas and Electric Arts, and is the music director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Puppetry Conference, a position she has held since 2014.

Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. from West Chester University (summa cum laude, Pi Kappa Lambda). Her teachers have included Robert Maggio, Larry Nelson, Van Stiefel, James Primosch, Jay Reise and Anna Weesner. Dunphy 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 2018. 

More information and works at

Beth Beauchamp2017/18, Jan27-28