About Mary Doumany PDF Print E-mail

One of the most original voices in the Australian arts community, Mary Doumany is a cross-arts practitioner renown as a composer, harpist and singer, and is rapidly earning a reputation as a creator of unique and innovative works that encompass music, text and visuals.  


Mary majored in harp under Una Morgan, and later undertook private lessons with Marisa Robles in London.  She studied composition with Alan Lane and voice with Margaret Nixon.
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At nineteen, Mary secured the principal position with the Australian Youth Orchestra, remaining with them for four years.  Playing both lever and pedal harps, she has performed with the Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, and her extensive orchestral experience encompasses opera, orchestral, ballet and music theatre repertoires.  Opera scores have included Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for the Neil Armfield/Australian Opera production, and Puccini’s La Boheme under the baton of the late Stuart Challender.

She made her solo debut for ABC Radio with Debussy’s Danses Sacree et Profane at age twenty, and has since performed widely as a recitalist, festival guest, and chamber ensemble musician.
Solo performance highlights include performances at the City of London Festival and Artcore (Paris); the 2006 International Harp Festival held in Adelaide, where Mary was the top billed Australian performer, alongside jazz virtuoso Park Stickney (USA) and classical specialist Isabelle Perrin (France); and as the featured soloist at the 2008 Australian International Harp Festival in Canberra.

Today, Mary’s solo performances are typically jazz-based, featuring both standards and original works.  
With improvisation a driving passion, her performances enrapture audiences with their sheer technical skill and creativity.

As a recording artist, she has performed on soundtracks for Australian and international films, television series, and advertising campaigns, and has worked with film composers Burkhard Dallwitz, Paul Grabowsky, David Hirschfelder and David Bridie.  Her harp recordings can be heard in films including: Shine, The Last Days of Chez Nous, Peaches, Metalskin, The Truman Show, MacBeth and Caterpillar Wish.  

Mary has received invitations to play and sing on recordings and in live performances of many popular artists over the years, including Grace Knight, Ross Wilson, Margaret Urlich, and James Morrison.  Her ‘cross-over’ into the jazz genre has provided opportunities to collaborate with musicians as diverse as drummer Chad Wackerman (James Taylor band, Barbara Streisand), guitarist Slava Grigoryan, pianist Joe Chindamo, and oud player Joseph Tawadros.

She has a current interest in Sonic Art, performing in James Hullick’s Bolt Ensemble. Recent productions include “The Nis” (2009) and “The Mountain” (2010).


A consistent counterpoint to her career as a performer, Mary’s compositional work has spanned genres and brought her into contact with players from many musical disciplines.  In her teens, she was awarded prizes by Don Banks and Franz Holford at Young Australian Composers Competitions.  After writing music for student theatre productions and  short films (shown on ABC TV), Mary later went on to form a song-writing partnership with producer and bassist Jeremy Alsop.  Writing and performing together as ‘The Lovers’, the duo were signed to the BMG Gotham label and financed by popular Australian singer John Farnham, and his business partner Ross Fraser.  Described by Barry Humphries as "mellifluous and as intimate as aromatherapy between consenting adults", ‘The Lovers’ released two albums, Embrace and Black Orchid, enjoyed chart success, and were nominated for five ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards. Mary has composed for music theatre productions and private commissions including a 1997 commission by Rupert Murdoch to write and perform a song for the Farewell to Ken Cowley concert.  Various artists have covered her original material over the years, including Grace Knight, Christine Sullivan, Phoebe Snow and Annalisa Kerrigan.  Some of these songs can be heard on recent releases through ABC Classics, including the 2009 release Our Land in Harmony; For Victorian Bushfire Relief, and Encore! The World’s Greatest Voices.

In 2003, with funding provided by the Australia Council, Mary wrote and recorded an album of original solo harp compositions, Elemental: impressions of the natural world.  Described by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s principal harpist as “incredibly creative and original harp writing”, Mary toured the album internationally with the support of Arts Victoria.  Several of these compositions have been included in the Trinity College International Harp Syllabus, and have been performed internationally by the acclaimed British harpist, Danielle Perrett.

Also a visual artist, Mary’s work has been acquired by the National Gallery.  Drawing on this passion, as well as her experience writing lyrics and music across the popular, jazz, music theatre and classical genres, she is currently conceptualising and creating cross-artform works for other artists, and for herself.  
In 2007, a commission was completed for a work featuring guitar, text (spoken word) and imagery for internationally acclaimed classical guitarist, Karin Schaupp.  This work, Portraits of Four Australian Women, was premiered at the 2007 Darwin International Guitar Festival and has since been performed in Sydney, Townsville, Adelaide, and Brisbane.  Described by UK Guitar Magazine’s Paul Fowles as “a remarkable new work”, it has met with  unanimous audience acclaim.

In 2010, Mary completed a new cross-artform work for guitar, narrator and choir.  Written to utilise the talents of thirteen artists, this large-scale work entitled The Butterfly and the Phoenix encompasses music and drama in a powerful response to some of the extraordinary stories that emerged from the tragic Victorian bushfires of 2009.  The work premiered in South-East Queensland in May 2010, with further performances in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne in 2010.

Plans for future compositions include a cross-artform work for guitar, recorder and text based on the myth of Aphrodite and Psyche; a collection of harp works for Alice Giles and the Seven Harp Ensemble (SHE); a music theatre project addressing issues of inclusivity, disability, and sibling relationships; and a solo production entitled Fragments of a Dream, featuring original text, music and visual art.  The collaborative process stimulates Mary and she welcomes appropriate opportunities to work with other performers, creators and storytellers.



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