Composition for Band by PSU Music Major Melanie Donahue

August 14th, 2007 by Adam

composerMelanie Donahue of Littleton, a Plymouth State University senior music major, has had an original composition for band published by Alfred Publishing Company, one of the world’s largest publishers of written music.

compositionEire was premiered by the Plymouth State Symphonic Band at their spring 2006 concert and is reported to be the only piece by a female composer in the Alfred band catalog.

“Melanie’s composition is very tuneful, and it draws upon the popularity of Celtic music worldwide,” said Professor Gary Corcoran, director of bands at Plymouth State. “J. W. Pepper and Son, one of the largest sheet music distributors in the U. S., has included Eire on its Editors’ Choice promotional recordings, which almost guarantees that the piece will reach a much wider audience than it might have otherwise. Melanie’s music reflects an intuitive craftsmanship. She has a wonderful opportunity at this time continue to develop her craft to the highest level possible.”

Donahue began composing during her junior year of high school. She was accepted at Plymouth State and found herself drawn to composition classes. Those classes offered significant opportunity to work one-to-one with Dr. Jonathan Santore, professor of music theory and composition and chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at PSU.

quartet photo quartet photoSantore, himself an award-winning composer, “could tell that the finished product would be something special. … it ‘works’ for band—that verb covers a wide range of issues that confront any director selecting a composition for performance by an ensemble. I think this is the beginning of a notable compositional career,” Santore said.

Eire began as a class assignment and was written specifically for band, but the melody which became the theme for the work was in Donahue’s head for two years. A second theme is composed in Irish jig style. Donahue says it is “celebratory—perhaps like St. Patrick’s day—and reflective of another aspect of Irish culture.” The piece is currently online at

Composition requires more than technical skill—the process involves research, in this case about Irish music, the immigrant experience, and family history. The novice composer likes to walk along the ocean, and kept hearing the central theme of the work in her head as she did so.

”I am so fortunate that Dr. Santore gave me the opportunity to write this piece and to have it performed,” said Donahue. “Speaking with noted composer and publisher Robert Sheldon at Alfred was a wonderful experience.”

Sheldon says Donahue is a very talented writer and predicts that she will have great success. “An acceptance into our catalogue means that her work was selected over hundreds of other pieces that were not accepted, including many by previously published and successful composers. Eire is a delightful composition that will be very playable by bands across the country.”

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