Back to Musicians' Biographies

Back to Project Information


A native of Dallas, Texas, Mary came to England in 1977 at the invitation of Robert Spencer and studied lute and voice with him for many years. Her vocal coaches have included Noelle Barker and Ian Partridge among others. She became interested in the field of early music and worked with many of the founding groups in the field. Over the years her musical interests have spread to 18th, 19th, and 20th century music.

As a soloist, Mary has performed with most of the major conductors in the field of authentic performance, including Roger Norrington, John Eliot Gardiner, Andrew Parrott, Charles Medlam and Trevor Pinnock. Her recordings include Bachís B Minor Mass and Monterverdiís Orfeo with Gardiner for Deutsche Gramophone, Handelís Carmelite Vespers and other Renaissance recordings with Parrott for EMI Reflex, and Beethoven Choral Fantasia with Norrington for EMI. Mary sang the role of the Sorceress in the widely acclaimed performance of Purcellís Dido and Aeneas at the Paris Opera (concert performance) directed by Charles Medlam.

Mary has also worked as a soloist with Paul Hillier performing 20thC repertoire in London (Almeida Festival), the USA, Berlin, and Estonia, premiering a piece by Estonian composer Arvo P‚rt, along with works by John Cage and others.

From 1979 to 1996, Mary was a member of the Consort of Musicke. With this prestigious ensemble, she has toured Europe extensively, the USA, Australia and Japan, singing at most of the major music festivals around the world. With the Consort, she has made many prize-winning recordings, including music from Lassus to Lawes. Over the past 20 years, Mary has made over sixty records and numerous radio broadcasts for WDR (German radio) and BBC Radio 3, plus a few television programmes including the Kingís Singers Madrigal Mystery Tour.

Her work with the Taverner Consort has included several recordings including works of Tallis, Carver, Browne, and Shepherd. She has also featured as a consort singer on their recordings of the Florentine Intermedi of 1589 and Bachís B Minor Mass. Similarly Mary has performed and recorded with the Tallis Scholars.

In the last few years, Mary has worked extensively with the ensemble Musica Secreta performing music of 17th century female composers written for female singers of the period. It is an area of newly researched music that has prompted much interest in artistic and academic circles.

In 1987, Mary joined the Guildhall School of Music as a specialist teacher of early music, teaching BMus and post-graduate students on both a class and individual level. Private tutoring has covered all facets of singing, technique and repertoire. Mary worked on several of the larger projects, conducting small choirs for Purcellís The Fairy Queen and two Bach Cantatas. In 1999, she was also invited to give master classes to students at the Royal Academy of Music in London. For one project she coached singers on Italian and English music of the early 17thC followed by a concert presentation.

In 1997, she was invited to speak on the subject of Renaissance and Baroque music at the International Conference of Voice Teachers held in London attended by Dame Joan Sutherland. Also in 1997, Mary was invited to Caracas, Venezuela to participate in an international festival of Baroque music where she taught and lectured a wide range of voice students. With Musica Secreta she has presented workshops at Queens University Belfast, Southampton University and abroad. She has coached singers both here and abroad on general and specialist repertoire and techniques and styles of singing.


Written by Laurie Stras.

Last updated 21 January, 2002.

The views expressed in this document are those of the author and not those of the University of Southampton.