Living in Harmony
Late in the evening while the average mom with young children is sleeping or maybe coaxing a little one back to bed, Mary Pierce Hurwitz is just getting started on her music. A mother of seven—yes seven—who grew up in Old Greenwich and recently released her second CD, Mary squeezes in songwriting after her kids are asleep, giving new meaning to the term balancing act. “I’ve become very efficient with my time. I value each moment,” she says. “If I think of a melody during the day, I record it and then work on it at night from 11 to 1. My husband doesn’t always love the schedule,” she says with a laugh.
In fact, Mary’s husband, Peter, and their kids have inspired much of her music, which has a soothing Celtic quality and has been compared to the soulful sounds of Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlan. Mary has always been a musician—she grew up in a musical family (the Gianquintos), performed with the high school’s Chamber Singers and trained in opera at Carnegie Hall—and her first songs were written for family. She says she wanted to do something special for her husband’s fortieth birthday and a tune popped into her head one day while she was picking up the kids from school. She wrote lyrics to go along with it and performed the piece at the birthday party. After writing more than a dozen songs, Mary decided she wanted to record and preserve the music for her children.
But when award-winning composer and pianist David Shenton listened to a sample CD of Mary’s songs, he saw the potential for a much broader audience. “The first thing that came to mind as I heard her music was being on a golf course in Ireland or Scotland; it’s very relaxing. There’s definitely a market for Irish-American music, and the essence was already there,” says Shenton, who has worked with Renée Fleming and Tony Bennett and played at events for the Royal Family, New York City Ballet and many others. “Mary’s melodies are very strong.”
Listeners seem to agree, as thousands of fans from around the globe have downloaded tracks from Miles Away, her first album produced by Shenton. And now a new set of songs from Dublin Bay is available on iTunes. On this latest CD, Mary is joined by a talented cast of musicians: David Shenton on piano, Rudolph Vernaz-Colas on guitar, Anna Leinbach on violin, David Smith on trumpet, and Joan DiBlasi playing a Celtic frame drum called a bodhran. Where does the Irish come in for a singer of mostly Italian descent? Apart from her green eyes, she says, it’s the authentic good vibes she feels while visiting the country. “The people are openhearted and are not afraid to show who they really are. I felt an immediate connection to the music,” she says. After vacationing and performing in Ireland last year, Mary brings her own positive energy back home to Norwalk, where she’s actively working on CD number three.
Mary and the other musicians who worked on Dublin Bay will tour this summer in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. For a schedule of performances, go to musicofmarypierce.com.