Mary Bichner, March Artist of the Month

Artist of the Month

Can you give a brief overview of what you do?
I am a "classipop" composer that attempts combine classical 18th-century chord progressions and orchestrations with catchy modern pop melodies. As a freelancer I am lucky enough to get to work on a variety of projects that include writing chamber music, arranging musical theatre pieces, scoring works for film, and everything in between. I also have the musical “superpowers” of perfect pitch and synesthesia, which are explained in a bit more detail in this video. I love my job!
Are there some past projects you would like to mention in more detail?
I've gotten to work on so many wonderful projects! As far as personal compositions go, I've recorded one full-length album and several singles, all of which can be streamed via my Bandcamp page. Some of my favorite live performances and appearances include: MTV Unplugged (conducting the Vitamin String Quartet for 30 Seconds to Mars), Cambridge's Club Oberon (Lunar Labyrinth, ORG, Bent-Wit Cabaret, Shoujo Spectacular), NYC's Galapagos Art Space (TALE), The Somerville Theatre (Dream Within a Dream: The Edgar Allan Poe Tour, Burns and Webb's Beck SongReader Live), acclaimed American composer Andrea Clearfield's musical salon, Somerville's Davis Square Theatre (Encyclopedia Show), and composer concerts at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Gallery 263, and Boston's 2013 Outside the Box Festival. I was also honored to be selected for a 2014 Artist Fellowship Grant by the Somerville Arts Council.
Is there anything new you’re working on, or an event that’s coming up?
I am working on a new EP entitled "Alice's Evidence", which will feature a dramatic reading of Chapter 12 of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" complete with incidental music. I am honored to get to collaborate with a number of incredible Boston-area artists on this project including Mika Cooper of What Time is it Mr. Fox?; TJ Horn, Jojo Lazar and Edrie of Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys; Singer Mali of Jaggery; Peter Moore of Count Zero; visual artist Kristilyn Stevenson, and more. The EP will be released digitally on May 4th, which is both the birthday of Alice Liddell (the "real-life" Alice on which the story's main character was based) and the date on which Alice's adventures were said to have taken place in the novel.
Why do you do what you do? What’s something you get out of it?
Music is my life -- I sincerely couldn't think of doing anything else. In my work I strive to create pieces that forge an emotional connection with the people that listen, and, for me, being able to make that connection is one of the most gratifying things about being a composer.
What inspired you to pursue the arts?
I've always been fond of performing music (I'd studied flute as a child and enjoyed singing as well), but I think it was watching the movie "Amadeus" in high school that inspired me to be a composer. I found my hero in Mozart, and to this day, each time I listen to one of his works, I discover new things about writing and arranging music -- even the pieces of his I've heard many times and know by heart.
A profession in the arts can be difficult. Can you talk about some of the challenges?
One of the hardest parts of transitioning from having a normal day-job to becoming full-time artist was the dizzying possibility of setting my own schedule. In the beginning, I was terrified at the prospect of having to produce pieces by specific deadlines, and panicked over whether or not inspiration would choose to strike when I needed it to. Luckily, after a bit of practice with this, I have figured out a sort of "rhythm" for my creative process, and am able to gauge approximately how much time I need to create each project I take on (with a few extra days to spare -- just in case!!).
Any thoughts on the local Somerville, or Boston-area creative scene?
I am head over heels in love with the connected creative communities of Somerville, Cambridge, Boston and beyond! There are so many incredible artists of every type (musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists, writers, acrobats, living statues -- you name it!), and so many wonderful opportunities to collaborate. I am honored to be part of such a vibrant, supportive, and magical arts community.
Where can people find your work online?
My official website, and you can also visit me on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.