Year 2005 | Volume 12    Southern Methodist University

        Paul Krueger
        Willard Spiegelman
        David Son
        Virginia Dupuy
        Alan Brown
        Wayne Shaw
        Evelyn Parker
        Valerie F. Hunt
        Dan Orlovsky


Giving Voice To The Art Song

Mezzo soprano Virginia Dupuy is known as a champion of contemporary American music, particularly art song – the musical setting of a poem, letter, or other text. The professor of voice in Meadows School of the Arts became interested in the form during her first teaching job at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. The school held an annual festival that brought to campus notable composers such as Ned Rorem and Alberto Ginastera, whose songs she performed.

“I loved being able to ask them why they did something a particular way,” Dupuy says. “I learned to respect a composer’s writing and learn as much as possible before performing it.”

She made her first art song recording in 1990 – Dominick Argento’s Pulitzer Prize-winning song cycle, “From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.” She has made numerous other recordings of contemporary music, including “Voces Americanas” with Voices of Change, nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award.

In the mid-1990s Dupuy discovered three unpublished songs by modern American composers based on the poems and letters of Emily Dickinson. She investigated other settings of Dickinson’s writings, and in 2001 received a University Research Council grant to expand her research. The result is the first comprehensive compilation of 3,000 settings of Dickinson’s works for solo voice and chorus, composed from 1896 to 2003. In 2004 Dupuy and pianists Shields-Collins Bray, Tara Emerson, and William Jordan released a CD featuring 25 of these works, “Emily Dickinson in Song – Dwell in Possibility,” on Gasparo Records. She now performs her Dickinson recital nationally.

With a demanding teaching and performing schedule, Dupuy has learned to make every moment count. In addition to a class in vocal techniques, she privately teaches 16 students, who recently performed with the opera companies of San Francisco and New York City and the symphonies of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Indianapolis.

Dupuy’s own recent performances include the role of the mayor’s wife in the Dallas Opera’s critically acclaimed production of “Jenufa,” in “Little Women” with the Fort Worth Opera, a recital in Albuquerque, with the Voices of Change and Broadway composer Ricki Ian Gordon at SMU, and at a Brahms festival at SMU in April. “It can take months to memorize songs and scores, so I’m rehearsing every day,” she says.

Dupuy, who joined SMU in 1990, earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Southwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information: