September 1, 2018: Vocalisms, new CD with pianist Heidi Louise williams Released on Albany Records

I’m overjoyed to announce that my new CD, Vocalisms, has finally arrived and is available for sale! Vocalisms, is a celebration of songs by Daniel Crozier, John Harbison, James Primosch, and Ned Rorem. It was a monumental project recording all this music for a 2-disc set, and Heidi and I are so proud. Head on over to my Discography page to purchase. Happy listening!

August 2018: Reviews, Cabrillo Festival of New Music: Zosha Di Castri Dear Life (American premiere)

I had the best time spending a week in Santa Cruz, CA at the Cabrillo New Music Festival! It was an honor to finally perform Dear Life - I actually consulted with her when she was originally writing it for the premiere in Canada. Zosha is such an imaginative and giving composer, and I loved that she set Alice Munro - an author whose writing I adore.

The week was spent rehearsing and getting to know the orchestra. I was tickled to see some old faces from the Cleveland Institute of Music! It’s always a treat to run into former classmates and hear about their careers. We all loved performing Zosha’s piece and wished we could also experience it from the outside.

My fiancé, Barry, joined me for this trip - a rare occurrence, indeed - and we spent my time off biking around Santa Cruz, going on scary rides at the boardwalk, hiking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and of course, checking out the Mystery Spot.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Performing Arts Monteray Bay

San Francisco Chronicle

October 2017: Review, Collage New Music: Aaron Helgeson Poems of Sheer Nothingness and James Primosch A sibyl (world premiere)

“Aaron Helgeson, who recently joined the Longy faculty, was represented by three of the five songs in his 2013 cycle Poems of Sheer Nothingness…Mary Mackenzie, a strong high soprano well-known in Collage concerts, had no trouble mastering the difficult high notes and shrieks that came in punctuations, along with unusual instrumental techniques in the accompaniment of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, plus piano…

A Fromm Foundation commission on behalf of Collage resulted in A Sibyl by James Primosch, who acquired six poems from his friend Susan Stewart (she was also present) for the cycle, whose premiere concluded the program. Collage and Mary Mackenzie gave the new work their total confidence and power…Rich expressiveness that cries out for more performances infused all of these intense but not expansive poems. Other groups should take note of this gratifying premiere.” - Mark DeVoto, Boston Musical Intelligencer

September 2017: Review, Chameleon Arts Ensemble: Ives songs, and Harbison North and South, Book II

“Mary Mackenzie sang with a reedy, warm tone, her voice ideal for the likes of Ives’s 114 Songs. Comedic drama filled the room in “Memories” and “Circus Band,” and her unwavering zeal charmed concertgoers. Mackenzie’s “Charlie Rutledge” peaked the set, her over exaggerated American diction prompting a few laughs from the audience…

The all-women trend continued in selections from John Harbison’s North and South, Book II, including Mackenzie, Slowik, O’Connor, Heller, violinist Ayano Ninomiya, violist Melissa Reardon, cellist Sarah Rommel, and double bassist Susan Hagen. Mackenzie’s soprano evoked the jazziest of sounds, bringing a comedic lift as the text called for it…” - Rachael Fuller, Boston Musical Intelligencer

May 2017: Review, Chameleon Arts Ensemble: Poulenc Le travail du peintre

“Mary Mackenzie’s beautiful, rich voice made us remember all over again that Poulenc is a great master of sublimating impulses into form and color. Her mien visibly adopting a different personality for each piece, Mackenzie embodied the aesthetic idiom of each painter, bringing out the artful contours of Poulenc’s meditations. Picasso, backed by jagged angular chords from pianist Vivian Choi, evoked a pictorial voice both fierce and melancholy; in Chagall we heard a joyful frisky piano and a singer in the spotlight amid the circus swirl of activity. Braque gave us a fragmented collage in the piano, the voice cutting through the kaleidoscopic pieces to pull it all together into coherence. Juan Gris was perhaps the most lyrically moving of the songs, Mackenzie conveying loss and yearning, and Choi evoking the quiet eternity of heartbreak, with the stanza “Table guitare et verre vide” forming the kenotic core of the piece. The last song brought the cycle to a fitting conclusion with voice and piano fusing Eluard’s poem and Villon’s pastels into a passionate affirmation of life – an enduring trust in human goodness “despite dead gods and lies.” - Leon Golub, Boston Musical Intelligencer.

january 2017: Reviews, Matt Marks' Mata Hari at the Prototype Opera Festival

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

New York Classical Review

October 2016: REview, Collage New Music, William Kraft's Settings from Pierrot Lunaire

Read Mark DeVoto's review for The Boston Musical Intelligencer here.

May 2016: Review, Chameleon Arts Ensemble

Mary Mackenzie sang Olivier Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel for soprano & piano from memory with near-perfect success. Throughout the half-hour cycle reveling over the French composer’s faith, his wife and son, focus really remained steadfast on Mackenzie and Chang-Freiheit. Both musicians shouldered the unmistakable language of Messiaen. Mackenzie produced an amazing array of color, something Messaien, who beholds the interval of the tritone as replicating all the colors of the spectrum, would surely have to admire.

All in all, it was less a spiritual voyage à la Messaien than a clear display of fascinating vocal timbres. When Mackenzie was in lower register or in lower volume anywhere in her vast range, she was most compelling and surprisingly alluring. Chang-Freiheit toned down to excellent effect the percussive nature of Messiaen’s piano writing, bringing to it a gorgeousness and robustness. This duo had you listening all the time.
— David Patterson, Boston Musical Intelligencer

february 2016: Cathedral Music released on albany records

Mary appears on the 21st Century Consort's most recent release, performing James Primosch's Sacred Songs and Meditations. The album is available on the Albany Records website, Amazon, and iTunes

December 2015: John Harbison: Songs After Hours released on Albany Records

The debut recording of John Harbison: Songs After Hours is now available from Albany Records. The album of jazz songs written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison features Mary Mackenzie, John Chin (piano), Joe Martin (bass), Dan Rieser (drums), and Dayna Stephens (saxophone).

The album is available on the Albany Records website, Amazon, and iTunes.

November 2015: Reviews of the premiere of Gunther Schuller's Singing Poems

The Collage players, under David Hoose’s direction, gave the work a devoted and crystalline account, with soprano Mary Mackenzie deftly negotiating the intensely challenging vocal part and Collage founder Frank Epstein returning to the stage to realize (alongside Craig McNutt) the score’s complex and elaborate demands for percussion.
— Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe
According to a note in the program by Schuller’s longtime assistant, the commission for Singing Poems gave the composer an excuse to read a wide variety of poetry, something he loved to do but rarely had time for. His selection of texts ranged from John of the Cross to Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Gertrude Stein, and e.e. cummings.

The players and soprano Mary Mackenzie made clear what caught Schuller’s fancy about each text. An arresting presence onstage, Mackenzie intoned the poems in a clear, agile voice, capable of rising to a piercing cry that rivaled Krueger’s shrieking piccolo.
— David Wright, Boston Classical Review

June 2015: Mary joins the cast of Mata Hari

Mary has been cast as Sister Léonide in the new opera, Mata Hari, with music by Matt Marks and libretto by Paul Peers. Mata Hari is currently in residence at the HERE Arts Center in New York City, and will premiere in January 2017.

March 2015: Review of Crumb's Apparition with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble

Crumb’s “Apparition” is a sequence of death-haunted songs for soprano and piano on Walt Whitman poems, interwoven with vocalises in which first nature and then death appear in sound. Crumb is famous for extending instrumental and vocal techniques, and “Apparition” shows how kaleidoscopically brilliant his sounds could be, even in the restricted model of the vocal duo. Spirits emerge from the brushed and plucked piano strings and the singer’s wordless intonations. In Whitman’s famous Lincoln elegy, “When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,” Crumb drains the poem of its grandeur and replaces it with a kind of uneasy gloom. The soprano’s repetition of the words “Dark mother” were quietly, epically unsettling. The performance, by soprano Mary Mackenzie and pianist Vivian Chang-Freiheit, was sensational, a fact the audience clearly appreciated.
— David Weininger, Boston Globe

March 2015: John Harbison: The Great Gatsby Suite released on Albany Records

Mary's performance of John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life with the Albany Symphony and conductor David Alan Miller is featured on their newest release with Albany Records. 

The album is available on the Albany Records websiteAmazon, and iTunes.

December 2014: Review of Asheville Symphony's A Classical Christmas

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Asheville Symphony Chorus teamed up with vocalists Mary Mackenzie and Timothy Jones for a wonderful holiday concert at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. On the program were selections from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio as well as several much beloved Christmas songs like “O Holy Night” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

This concert marks the first time I have seen and heard the ASO and ASC collaborate; under the direction of Daniel Meyer and Michael Lancaster respectively, it was a welcome spectacle to behold. Supplemented by the presence of wonderful soprano Mary Mackenzie and bass-baritone Timothy Jones, the afternoon was a smashing success...

Later in the program, Mackenzie was featured as a soloist in the traditional “O Holy Night,” the shining moment of the concert. Her operatic background was plainly apparent as she filled the entire concert hall with her stunning voice. Even with the full orchestra and chorus behind her, her presence was constant.
— Joshua Hutchins, CVNC

October 2014: Review of Jonathan Harvey's Songs Offerings and Harbison's Samuel Chapter

The most contemplative work of the evening was Jonathan Harvey’s Song Offerings (1985) for soprano and chamber ensemble.

Soprano Mary Mackenzie, with breathy voice, added a chill to the music’s ghostly veneer. Especially impressive were the wide melodic leaps that make up the second song, which the singer delivered with live-wire intensity. The shimmering layers of the third were woven from delicate vocal lines and instrumental motives, which hung in space like light though a church window. Mackenzie and the ensemble gave the music sensitive treatment. But the gem of the setting was the final of the set, which dealt with the theme of death. There, Mackenzie’s silvery strands of speech and melody flowered from the glisten of whistling high notes, the vocalises encircling the stationary pitches like vines around a tomb stone.

The evening’s other vocal work, John Harbison’s Samuel Chapter (1978), is a powerful setting of a text from the Old Testament Book of Samuel.

Harbison’s music is an alluring mix of dark, angular lyricism and palpitating harmonic rhythm. Mackenzie sang with bright, focused tone, her phrases sounding with authoritative presence to capture the voice of God. She was equally adept in her singing for Samuel, where she softened her tone effectively to capture the youth’s tender innocence.
— Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review

June 2014: Review of premieres by Wang Jie, Raymond Lustig, Joshua Roman, Amir Shpilman and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire at Town Hall Seattle

Throughout this program, every piece of which used voice, the singer was Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie. All the works were challenging, but none more so than Shpilman’s piece, which had her solo on stage, laughing. Yes, laughing. And only laughing, from smothered giggles at the start to high-ranging full shrieks of laughter.

Interesting at first, it was amazing to watch Mackenzie’s use of her superbly trained body to achieve a physically challenging tour de force in what for most people would be an exhausting display.

Ensemble work all evening was excellent, but the evening really belonged to Mackenzie, whose extraordinary capabilities were manifest. She has a lovely voice, which she could ornament with vibrato or not as she chose, her range was very wide with strong low notes and ringing high ones, she was pitch perfect and at all times expressive of the music she sang as was her demeanor.
— Philippa Kiraly, The SunBreak

August 2013: Review of Shakespeare: The Bard in Song and Scenes. solo recital at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival with Molly Mokorski (piano), and in collaboration with Allison Schaffer (actress).

Mary Mackenzie has a full, ripe soprano voice of great power and beauty. She put it to use, with effective utilization of facial expression, body movement, and even gestures, to make each song an individual piece, with its own distinct mood. This is a superb artist of whom I want to hear more.
— John Barker, for the Well Tempered Ear

June 2012: Review of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire at the Rockport Music Festival

...with soprano Mary Mackenzie as a guide, these 21 often densely textured and mercurial songs were a dramatic yet intimate revelation . . . her timbre ranged from a low, throaty speech to a lyrically strident lament. Most striking was the breathy tone she used to render beautifully the nocturnal mystery of songs such as Eine blasse Wäscherin, and Der kranke Mond . . . Mackenzie’s unleashing of an operatic drama for the bloody lyrics of Die Kreuze and her sing-song delivery for the sly text of Der Mondfleck were also particularly engaging.
— Stefanie Lubkowski, Boston Music Intelligencer

Banner artwork by Margaret Mackenzie