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Watch and share the "Remember the Ladies" choral song, set to music by Melissa Dunphy and performed by PhilHarmonia. Hand writing clip provided by ©Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

When acclaimed contemporary composer Dr. Melissa Dunphy heard that Abigail Adams’s famed “Remember the Ladies” letter would return to Philadelphia as part of the Museum’s When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807 special exhibit, she was inspired to interpret — through music — what Adams’s powerful words could mean for our current moment. On March 25, 2021, Dunphy joined the Museum for the choral world premiere of “Remember the Ladies,” which sets excerpts from Abigail Adams's famous 1776 letter for an a cappella mixed chorus, performed by the 40-voice community choir PhilHarmonia.

Watch the full event below to hear about Adams’s power of the pen in an interactive discussion with Dunphy, led by the Museum’s Dr. Tyler Putman, Manager of Gallery Interpretation and featuring Gwen Fries, Production Editor of the Adams Papers Editorial Project at Massachusetts Historical Society. Then following the song's debut, PhilHarmonia Executive Director Sara H. Brown, PhilHarmonia Artistic Director Dr. Mitos Andaya Hart and Audio Engineer Ryan LaRocque join the panel to discuss how writing, performing, and composing inspire a sense of community in otherwise dark moments of history.

You can view or download the "Remember the Ladies" score on Dunphy's website.

Presented in Partnership with PhilHarmonia

  • PhilHarmonia

Adams’s original “Remember the Ladies” letter, written to her husband John on March 31, 1776, was on loan to the Museum from the Massachusetts Historical Society and was featured as part When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story 1776-1807, through April 25, 2021 and available online anytime.

About Melissa Dunphy

Melissa Dunphy

Born to refugee parents and raised in Australia, Melissa Dunphy immigrated to the United States in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and acclaimed composer specializing in vocal, political, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention in 2009 when her large-scale choral work the Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street JournalThe AtlanticHarper’s MagazineNational Review, Comedy Central, and on Fox News and MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, where host Rachel Maddow described it as “the coolest thing you’ve ever seen on this show.” Dunphy has a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. in Theory and Composition from West Chester University, and is a lecturer in composition at Rutgers University.

Bank of America and Comcast NBCUniversal are presenting sponsors of When Women Lost the Vote. Other support was provided by The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The exhibition was also made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

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