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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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.
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.
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).
“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).”
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.”
Voce di Meche
“Soprano Noelle McMurtry and bass Andy Berry were the most notable soloists, and the whole tribe created a vibrant, exuberant chorus.”
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.”
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