Kelly-Marie Murphy | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Kelly-Marie Murphy

Kelly-Marie Murphy. Composer, b Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy 4 Sep 1964; B Mus (Calgary) 1987, M Mus (Calgary) 1989, PhD (Leeds) 1994. Kelly-Marie Murphy was born in Italy to Canadian parents but grew up on military bases in Canada.

Murphy, Kelly-Marie

Kelly-Marie Murphy. Composer, b Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy 4 Sep 1964; B Mus (Calgary) 1987, M Mus (Calgary) 1989, PhD (Leeds) 1994. Kelly-Marie Murphy was born in Italy to Canadian parents but grew up on military bases in Canada. She studied composition with Allan Bell at the University of Calgary before attending the University of Leeds, England, on scholarships and studying composition with Philip Wilby. Her first successes came shortly after beginning her doctoral studies; she won the New Works Calgary Composers' Competition (1992), and was commissioned by The Studio in Bradford, England, for the electroacoustic work Escape From Mind and Body (1993). She came to prominence at the end of her studies by winning first prize and the people's choice award at the 1994 CBC Young Composers' Competition with her string quartet This Is My Voice.

The CBC then commissioned From the Drum Comes a Thundering Beat, Murphy's first orchestral work, which was premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey (23 Jan 1996) and later placed fifth at the 1996 International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. Murphy began writing orchestral music intensively, producing - among others - This Is the Colour of My Dreams, premiered by Shauna Rolston and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) under Jukka-Pekka Saraste (5 Nov 1997); Utterances, premiered by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (10 Feb 1999), and which won third place at the Alexander Zemlinsky competition (1999); And Then at Night I Paint the Stars, premiered by Judy Loman with the TSO (12 Jun 2002); and Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul, premiered by Stephen Sitarski and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (31 Mar 2006). Murphy has also written for chamber ensembles, among which works pieces for strings figure prominently: Dance Me Through the Panic (1996), performed by Rivka Golani and the Quattuor Arthur Leblanc; Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly (1997), performed by the Gryphon Trio; Another Little Piece of My Heart (1999) performed by the Alcan String Quartet; and Living Metal, Continuous Poses (2003), performed by the Molinari Quartet. Murphy was named composer-in-residence for the National Youth Orchestra for 2007-8.

Murphy's music favours emotional accessibility, brilliant orchestration, and virtuosity. She is noted as a highly adept orchestrator who writes scores that are often inspired by her emotions. While some critics claim her music lacks depth, her pieces tend to generate much enthusiasm among concert-going audiences inside and outside the contemporary music scene. The San Francisco Post described Murphy's style as one "that's 'old-fashioned' tonal and yet completely of our time" (San Francisco Post, 12 May 1999).

Kelly-Marie Murphy is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and of SOCAN.

Selected Works

From the Drum Comes a Thundering Beat. . . Orchestra. 1995. Ms

This Is the Colour of My Dreams. Cello and orchestra. 1997. Ms

Circadian Rhythms. String orchestra. 1997. Ms

Hammer of the Sorceress. Piano and orchestra. 1998. Ms

Utterances. Orchestra. 1998. Ms

Indelible Lines, Invisible Surface. Oboe and strings. 1999. Ms

A Thousand Natural Shocks. Orchestra. 2000. Ms

And Then at Night I Paint the Stars. Harp and orchestra. 2002. Ms

Fallibility, Logic, and the Return of Wonder. Alto saxophone and orchestra. 2002. Ms

And So Be Changed to Lightning in the End. Orchestra. 2004. Ms

Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul. Solo violin and orchestra. 2006. Ms


La Crête d'une invisible incendie. Soprano, alto flute, viola, cello, and harp. 1992, rev. 1995. Ms

Life Passes in Transformation. Clarinet and string quartet. 1992. Ms

This Is My Voice. String quartet. 1994. Ms

Four Degrees of Freedom. Piano quartet. 1995. Ms

Dance Me Through the Panic. String quintet. Ms

If only. . . Percussion ensemble. 1997. Ms

Give Me Phoenix Wings to Fly. Piano trio. 1997. Ms

Another Little Piece of My Heart. String quartet. 1999. Ms

Huron Carol Interlude. String quartet. 1998. Ms

Postcards from Home. Violin, clarinet, and piano. 2000. Ms

Illumination. Harp. 2000. Ms

Departures and Deviations. Violin, horn, and piano. 2001. Ms

Dance Me to Your Beauty with a Burning Violin. Violin, piano. 2002. Ms

Living Metal, Continuous Poses. String quartet. 2003. Ms

Sur les pas de la lune. Mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. 2003. Ms

Fanfare. 4 trumpets. 2006. Ms


The Darkest Midnight in December. Treble voices and harp. 2005. Ms


Escape from Mind and Body. 1993. Digital tape

The Company of My Soul. Alto saxophone and digital delay. 1994/95. Ms


Aural Tectonics: Fragments, Shards, and Jagged Little Pieces. Piano. 1999. Ms

Star Burning Blue. Piano. 2000. Ms

Let Hands Speak. Piano. 2003. Ms

Further Reading