Kelly-Marie Murphy


Born: September 4, 1964 – Cagliari, Italy


  • Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. Though currently living in Ottawa she said in a recent interview that she considers Calgary home as many of her formative years were spent there.
  • She holds two degrees from the University of Calgary and completed her doctorate studies at Leeds University.
  • She won her first prize, the first New Works Calgary Composers’ Competition, in 1992 and has continued to win an impressive list of awards at international competitions since.
  • Two of her works were scheduled for world premieres during the first half of 2020. The Calgary Philharmonic performed her orchestral piece On Rethinking Heroism in the 21st Century on March 6th at what would be one of their last concerts prior to COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the epidemic led to the cancellation of the premiere of In Our Time of Disbelieving for string ensemble, commissioned by I Musici de Montréal.
  • A complete biography of Kelly-Marie Murphy can be found on her website at:



Star Burning Blue


  • A solo piano piece, it was commissioned by the Esther Honens International Piano Competition for Maxim Philippov. He premiered the work on November 15, 2000 in Calgary.
  • In a single movement lasting 8 minutes, Dr. Murphy traces the life cycle of a main sequence supergiant star.


  • In her thoughts on the work Kelly-Marie Murphy explains: This piece explores a musical cycle of power and energy, where stability spins out of control and then is regained.  The tempo increases, the range becomes more and more extreme.  When the shattering finally occurs, time is slowed by relativistic effects as high energy fragments rush out into the vacuum.  The irony is that this peaceful moment is created by violent destruction.  As the particles of music drift, they are eventually caught in their mutual attraction and coalesce once again.


  • Magdalena von Eccher shared a few insights with us on performing the piece: Star Burning Blue brings the listener into a vivid and evocative soundscape. Murphy’s writing, utilizing the whole expanse of the keyboard, is filled with swirling patterns and percussive effects which accumulate through sequences and intensifying harmonies. One has the sense of spinning at an ever-increasing speed, stability gradually eroding and inevitably disintegrating in a wild explosion. Virtuosic and brilliant, this music is exciting and dramatic, creating a visceral experience for performer and listener.



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