Windhover Fantasy

“Windhover Fantasy, begun not long after September 11th, is plaintive yet intense, questioning yet powerful in feel–to this critic’s ear, the most eloquent musical response heard yet to the terrorist outrages of that date. It explores the nebulously triadic world of polytonality with great confidence . . . [and] projects a sonic universie akin to no other composer present or past. . . . A very special listen.”

-The New Music Connoisseur, 2002

“Marvelous . . . Merryman has perfectly captured the feeling of flight with gently swirling strings standing in for currents of air and giving the work a heady sense of space and wonder. . . . The overall sense is one of comfort and joy and spirit.”

-Boston Herald, 2002

“The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra’s usual world premiere was a wonderful one: Marjorie Merryman’s gorgeous Windhover Fantasy. . . . A moving, memorable piece that ought instantly to enter the concert repertoire.”

-Boston Phoenix, 2002


“All fluid movement, all getting from here to there, by a brace of expressive means . . . that had nothing to hide. The effect overall was quietly majestic.”

-Boston Globe, 2002


One Blood

“Orchestral majesty . . . Merryman is wonderfully responsive to the rhythms, sounds and textures of words, as well as to their meanings, and everything she writes emerges from a flowing lyrical impulse. She is also an imaginative and varied orchestrator.”

-Boston Globe, 2003

Three English Ballads

“Merryman’s “Three Ballads” for chorus and orchestra on texts by Francis James Child manage to sound antique and contemporary, lush, and spare, all at once . . . superb word-setting.”

-Boston Globe, 1998


“A gravely lyrical, hieratic piece of architecture, chamber-musical division, subtly canny in its evocations of space and light, and delicately laid out for its seven players.”

-Boston Globe, 1997


“Marjorie Merryman’s “Jonah” [is] an artistic treasure. Merryman’s 1995 composition uses a deeply colorful orchestral palette and onomatopoeia to relate this ancient biblical account. Her varied use of dissonance is always purposeful, describing both the human condition and Jonah’s defiance of God. The storm at sea is a violent fugue, and the leviathan (dyspeptic belly and all) is made incarnate with a solo tympani passage and eerily high string harmonics imitative of whale songs. Merryman’s solo scoring rivals the lyricism of Benjamin Britten’s.”

Washington Post, 2010

“A winner . . . Merryman’s piece is craftsmanlike, practical, and professional. She knows how to set words so you can understand them and participate in their meaning – the harmony on a word like “distresses” makes you shiver. She knows how to orchestrate effectively; she knows how to make a chorus sound good. Her music is atmospheric in its depiction of the sea and profound in its moral engagement with a stirring and troubling story.”

-Boston Globe, 1997

“[Merryman] inhabits that rich realm of potentialities in which neither dissonance nor consonance is something to be avoided. In Jonah she deploys both as tools for dramatic storytelling, and the strategy pays off powerfully.”

-Philadelphia Online, 1999


“A lesson in excellence . . . a gripping, concise, modern one-act music drama that is a real gem. . . . I left much moved by the 45-minute opera’s honesty and directness.”

-Boston Herald, 1999

“Merryman’s music is laconic, finely chiseled, and as unsentimental as Sophcles’ words.”

-Boston Globe, 1999

Divergent Streams

“Generated an eventful narrative out of clusters of initial fanfare-like material and reached a radiant close that put it into the category of new works I’d like to hear again.”

-Boston Globe, 1994

String Quartet

“Your reviewer much liked its urbanity and its concise-to-elliptical diction, its way of being both well-spoken and inward at the same time. Merryman is a composer who knows how to fashion a beautiful object that is also a personally distinctive one.”

-Boston Globe, 1994

“A wonderful new quartet . . . lyrical, rhythmic and intense, yet expressive and reflective. Merryman holds together her quartet with bold movement and variations anchored by structure of the past.”

-La Crosse Tribune, 1994

Companion Pieces

“Arresting . . . Merryman, a favorite of this listener among Boston composers, always manages to incorporate traditional notions of melody and architecture in music that sounds neither conservative nor calcuated.”

-Boston Globe, 1999

La Musique

“Two poems by Baudelaire were set so evocatively and with such feeling for the French, its rhythm, color and sense as to give the impression that the fine soprano herself was producing the pieces on inspiration.”

-San Francisco Chronicle, 1991

In the Dreamtime

“A lovely piece, ingenious in construction, elusive in mood.”

-Boston Globe, 1993

Bending the Light

“A highly effective three-movement trio written for piano, cello and percussion that emphasizes timbre, structural symmetry, syncopation, and motive development.”

-Washington Post, 1994

“An attractive three-movement work that begins with a pointillistic piano and percussion figure . . . and ends with a rhythmically sharp Rondo, in a style that borrows from both Bela Bartok and Dave Brubeck.”

-New York Times, 1990

“In Marjorie Merryman’s “Bending the Light,” you heard a thrifty mastery in dealing with its notes. It was music elliptical in manner but expansive in effect, subtly and eloquently colored, and well-crafted in joinery. And it had sonorous charm. This one should be recorded.”

-Boston Globe, 1989

“Striking . . . perky rhythms, surging lyrical materials and non-tonal yet organic harmonies.”

-Boston Globe, 1994

“Merryman’s Bending the Light explored the color possible within the group . . . and finished with a distinctly jaunty celebration of the players’ quick skills.”

-Philadelphia Inquirer, 1990

Hidden Boundaries

“Marjorie Merryman’s terse, passionate, ingeniously structured “Hidden Boundaries (1984) offered welcome surcease . . . so fine a piece, and in so real a performance, it ought to have been done twice.”

-Boston Globe, 2002

“A skilled exercise in the shifting of formal boundaries and a meditation on the process of transition; it has a particular warmth of feeling that is Merryman’s own.”

-Boston Globe, 1994

“In Marjorie Merryman’s “Hidden Boundaries,” there was a sense of elegance and inevitability about the placing of every note in the discourse and in what instrumental voice it assumed; and of strong but veiled affect.”

-Boston Globe, 1991

The Garland

“Music of warmth, yearning, and expressiveness.”

-Boston Globe, 2005

“The surprise treat of the program was Marjorie Merryman’s “The Garland,” a 1982 work . . . Joyous works like this one will always be welcome.”

-EDGE, 2005