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Max Kade Postdoctoral Fellowship

I'm excited to announce that I will be a 2024/2025 Max Kade Postdoctoral Fellow at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin. To read more on the 2024/2025 Berlin Program fellows and their research, click here. During the fellowship, I will...

Welcome to She Is Song! My name is Noelle McMurtry, and I’m a classical-music vocalist, concert curator, and musicologist. I employ my interdisciplinary background to write about how classical music intersects with culture from a feminist perspective.

I’m passionate about creating a more accurate, inclusive, and just historical narrative that centers the contributions of women creators in classical music, as well as an online community to share research, thoughts, music and more.

In She Is Song, you will engage with diverse and underrepresented storytellers in classical music. I specifically created She Is Song as a space to explore and share my research on the song repertoire of women composers. As a vocalist, I interpret music from the medieval era until today, and through my post-doctoral research, I am currently delving into the 19th-century song repertoire of European and North American women composers.

Since I am most interested in pairing scholarship with performance, I tend to think and write about the music/texts that inspire me and the projects I am currently working on. This involves a whole bunch of intersecting topics, including history, politics, literature, and autobiography, as well as the contributions of women composers, writers, visual artists, activists, and historical figures that intersect with musical composition.

I’m glad that you’re here, and I hope that She Is Song serves as a resource, canon-challenger, and most importantly, a fun read!

 

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Featured

Composer

Comtessa de Dia, The Early Music Police & Me: Part I

Comtessa de Dia, The Early Music Police & Me: Part I

In January 2023, the fact that women created and performed songs since time immemorial came sharply into focus as I prepared “A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no volria” (I must sing of what I’d rather not) a medieval song by Comtessa de Dia (c. 1140-1212), a noblewoman and trobairitz from southern France.

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Poet

Research

Research

Suffragist Series: Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Research,Season Highlights | 0 Comments

Suffragist Series highlights the fascinating suffrage activists that I researched as dramaturg for A Women's Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza! (AWSSE!), including writer, educator, and civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954).

The Myth of Semele: A Woman on Fire

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Composer,Research | 0 Comments

I explore the myth of Semele, a woman on fire, in its many visual and musical permutations, including historical portraits and Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre's 1715 biblical cantata "Semelé."

An Ancient Poet Speaks: Finding the Voice of Sulpicia

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Poet,Research | 0 Comments

Jessica Krash's "Sulpicia Songs" (2015) for voice and piano counters the sexist narrative that Sulpicia, an ancient Roman noblewoman, did not write six love elegies in the "Corpus Tibullianum."

Self-Portraits of Desire: Louise de Vilmorin & Gwen John

by | Feb 7, 2022 | Poet,Research | 0 Comments

Through Francis Poulenc's 1937 song set "Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin," I intertwine the artistic visions of painter Gwen John (1876-1936) and poet Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969), whose historical narratives have focused more on their romantic affairs than their artistic expression.

Composers

Comtessa de Dia, The Early Music Police & Me: Part I

by | May 2, 2024 | Composer | 0 Comments

In January 2023, the fact that women created and performed songs since time immemorial came sharply into focus as I prepared “A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no volria” (I must sing of what I’d rather not) a medieval song by Comtessa de Dia (c. 1140-1212), a noblewoman and trobairitz from southern France.

“A place of rest where we know we will not enter”: Trois Mélodies, op. 91 of Mel Bonis

by | Oct 1, 2023 | Composer | 0 Comments

In "Trois Mélodies, op. 91," I wondered how composer Mel Bonis truly felt as she set Maurice Bouchor's poetry, texts which outline the poet's desire for an unattainable beloved.

To Be Loved Less Than a Flower: “Hyacinth” by Margaret Bonds & Edna St. Vincent Millay

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Composer | 0 Comments

In composer Margaret Bonds’ setting of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Hyacinth,” we encounter an unflinching intersectional feminist portrait of the ever-shifting dynamics between gender, power, and love.

Singing with Myself: Pandemic Virtual Performance & Melissa Dunphy’s June

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Composer | 0 Comments

Through virtually recording Melissa Dunphy's "June" in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I confronted long-held insecurities around technology by learning how to sing with myself.

The Woman Within the Portrait: Ria & Mizzi

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Composer | 0 Comments

In Lacy Rose's cycles "Ria" and "Hope I," the composer humanizes through song the models of painter Gustav Klimt: the women within the portraits.

“one heart and one soul”: The Songs of Clara and Robert Schumann

by | Feb 25, 2022 | Composer | 0 Comments

In the Pleiades Project film "German Romantics: Clara," we explore the musical and romantic partnership between composers Clara and Robert Schumann that produced Clara's Lieder Op. 12.

«… und, wo ist Fanny?»

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Composer | 0 Comments

Despite intense self-doubt and familial pressure to forego publication, the 1846 publication of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's "Sechs Lieder, op. 1" represents the composer's assertion of a public and professional identity.

The Myth of Semele: A Woman on Fire

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Composer,Research | 0 Comments

I explore the myth of Semele, a woman on fire, in its many visual and musical permutations, including historical portraits and Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre's 1715 biblical cantata "Semelé."

Barbara Strozzi: Portrait as Gossip, Rumor, and Innuendo

by | Dec 14, 2021 | Composer,Season Highlights | 0 Comments

What if a composer's existence, or certain details of it, were defined by the fact that their breast was partly exposed? Case in point: composer Barbara Strozzi's 1630's portrait, which I encountered in 2019 at the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden.

Poet

A Song for Turbulent Times: Melissa Dunphy’s “Farewell, Angelina”

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Poet,Season Highlights | 0 Comments

Melissa Dunphy's "Farewell, Angelina" (2019), arranged for voice and viola, draws surreal parallels between American society in 1965 and 2020, as the nation fights to achieve racial justice and uphold our democracy.

An Ancient Poet Speaks: Finding the Voice of Sulpicia

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Poet,Research | 0 Comments

Jessica Krash's "Sulpicia Songs" (2015) for voice and piano counters the sexist narrative that Sulpicia, an ancient Roman noblewoman, did not write six love elegies in the "Corpus Tibullianum."

Self-Portraits of Desire: Louise de Vilmorin & Gwen John

by | Feb 7, 2022 | Poet,Research | 0 Comments

Through Francis Poulenc's 1937 song set "Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin," I intertwine the artistic visions of painter Gwen John (1876-1936) and poet Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969), whose historical narratives have focused more on their romantic affairs than their artistic expression.

“Each of the very gifted singers . . . including Noelle McMurtry . . . has at least one aria to deliver . . . These are beautiful, lilting pieces of music, with large amounts of fioritura. The singers’ task of keeping their tone pure and tremolo at bay, in order to contrast “simple” singing with these virtuosic embellishments, is a demanding one (among the women, McMurtry is especially skilled at this).”

Deborah Jowitt

Dance Beat Arts Journal

It must have been a challenge to find performers who could sing and dance as well. All the voices were fine but we were most impressed with sopranos Noelle McMurtry … [who] captured the Baroque style with pure tones that floated beautifully in the upper register.”

Meche Kroop

Voce di Meche

Soprano Noelle McMurtry and bass Andy Berry were the most notable soloists, and the whole tribe created a vibrant, exuberant chorus.

Heidi Waleson

The Wall Street Journal

“In the middle as Polyxo was the more silvery-toned Noelle McMurtry, who turned aside from the trio’s singing to ask questions. She went with increasing insistence to a pile of books, quoting Jung, Ovid, Pausanias, and other sources, her thoughtful analysis offering some comic relief from the unrelenting fierceness of the siren song.”

Charles T. Downey

Washington Classical Review

Whether they sing singly or together, as they do in their portrayal of the Muses, McMurty, Crossot, and Bosworth display that they are fully capable of handling Soper’s sophisticated and intricate score.

Barbara Mackay

DC Metro Theatre Arts

“[Fairy Queen] is all terrific fun once you are swept into the spirit, and that doesn’t take long . . . Especially fine among the singers on Friday were Noelle McMurtry and Tamra Paselk; sopranos.”

James R. Oestreich

The New York Times