With music described as “breathtaking” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record), “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post), “a pulse-pounding barrage on the senses” (The Globe and Mail), and “Bartok on steroids” (Birmingham News), Kelly-Marie Murphy’s voice is well known on the Canadian music scene. She has created a number of memorable works for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, The Gryphon Trio, James Campbell, Shauna Rolston, the Cecilia and Afiara String Quartets, and Judy Loman.
Dr. Murphy’s music has been performed around the world by outstanding soloists and ensembles, and has had radio broadcasts in over 22 countries. Her music has been interpreted by renowned conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, David Brophy, Bramwell Tovey, and Mario Bernardi. Her music has been heard in iconic concert halls, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, The Mozarteum in Salzburg, and The National Concert Hall in Dublin.
Besides many academic scholarships awarded in Canada and England, Dr. Murphy has also won prizes for her music, dating back to 1992. She won first prize and the People’s Choice Award at the CBC Young Composer’s Competition in 1994 (string quartet category); received 2 honorable mentions in the New Music Concerts competition in 1995; earned fifth place at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 1996 for her first orchestra piece, From the Drum Comes a Thundering Beat. . .; was awarded first and second prizes in the Maryland Composer’s Competition at Loyola College in Baltimore, 1998; won third place in the Alexander Zemlinsky Prize for Composition in 1999 for her work, Utterances; won first prize in the International Horn Society’s Composer’s Competition, 2001, for her work, Departures and Deviations; and in 2003 won first prize for her harp concerto, And Then At Night I Paint the Stars in the Centara Corporation New Music Festival Composer’s Competition.
Dr. Murphy has completed short residencies at the Snowbird Institute for the Arts, Utah, with Joan Tower; Tapestry Music Theatre/Canadian Opera Company, Toronto; rESOund Festival of Contemporary Music, Edmonton; Strings of the Future International String Quartet Festival, Ottawa; Soundstreams/Encounters, Toronto; and at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2004 Dr. Murphy was honored with The Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Calgary, and in 2005 as the Roger D. Moore Distinguished Visitor in Composition from the University of Toronto. Dr. Murphy was granted the distinction of Honorable Mention in the 2008 Barlow Prize for composition. From 2006 to 2008, she served as composer-in-residence to the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary with William Jordan and Allan Bell, and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England, where she studied with Philip Wilby. After living and working for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated “an alien of extraordinary ability” by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, she is now based in Ottawa.
Awards + Prizes:
- 2021: Winner, Vancouver Bach Choir Choral Composition Competition
- 2020: Winner, Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music
- 2018: Winner, Azrieli Music Prize
- June 2017: Winner, Maria Anna Mozart Award, Symphony Nova Scotia
- March 2016: Winner, Cambridge Chamber Singers International Composition Competition
- December 2011: Nominee for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts
- September 2008: Honourable Mention, Barlow Prize for Composition
- May 2007: Alternate Fellow, 2007 Composer Conference, Wellesley College
- January 2005: Roger D. Moore Distinguished Visitor in Composition, The University of Toronto
- November 2004: Distinguished Alumni Award, The University of Calgary
- January 2003: First Prize, Centara Corporation Composer’s Competition
- April 2002: International Horn Society Composer’s Prize
- May 2001: Paul Fleck Fellowship for residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts
- April 1999: third place in the Alexander Zemlinsky Prize for Composition
- October 1998: short-listed for a music award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
- April 1998: first and second prizes in the Maryland Composer’s Competition, Loyola College
- June 1996: 5th place at the International Rostrum of Composers; Paris
- July 1995: honourable mention in the New Music Concerts Composer’s Competition; Herbert Aitken Prize
- Nov. 1994: first prize and People’s Choice Award in the CBC Young Composer’s Competition; string quartet category
- July 1993, 1992, 1991: Overseas Research Student Award (England)
- July 1993, 1992, 1991: Tetley and Lupton Scholarship (England)
- July 1993, 1992, 1991: Edward Boyle Memorial Scholarship (Leeds)
- May 1993: winner of the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund award (London)
- Nov. 1992: shortlisted for the Cornelius Cardew composition prize
- July 1992: winner of the Young Composer’s Commission for Electro-Acoustic Music in Dance, The Studio, Bradford (England)
- April 1992: winner of the first annual New Works Calgary Composers’ Competition