Mary Kay McGarvey


Mary Kay McGarvey, a native of South Dakota, has achieved wide recognition as an opera/oratorio singer and a popular recitalist who has performed extensively throughout the United States. She has become well-known as an interpreter of contemporary music in New York, as well as in Italy where she performed a concert tour as the only singer of the NY Contemporary Music Band. Ms. McGarvey, soprano, premiered the title role in the Winchester Widow, a monodrama by Trinkley/Charnesky at the Cornelia Street Cafe in NYC. The versatile singer was featured with NYCMB at Millennium Theatre as the Vanishing Lady in mixed-media performances of Phrenology Illustrated as well as Lulu in Innocent Depravity. Ms. McGarvey sang the title role in the New York premiere of Murray Boren’s opera Emma. Produced by the Hell’s Kitchen Opera, the New York Daily News (Zakariasen, 14 July 92) wrote: “the vocal parts often foray up above high C and at least two arias are truly marathons, but the writing is always brilliantly theatrical and strong in melodic profile.” Allan Kozinn of the New York Times (14 July 92) wrote: “The singers gave committed, vocally agile performances.” Ms. McGarvey also performed Aunt Julia and Mrs. Malins in the premiere of Mr. Boren’s The Dead.

As an oratorio soloist, Ms. McGarvey gave her Lincoln Center debut with the Goliard Orchestra and conductor Patricia Handy singing Mozart’s concert aria “Fra cento affanni.” She was a featured soloist on the Young Concert Artist Series in Aspen, Colorado, and has performed as soprano soloist in Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Honegger’s King David, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and St. John’s Passion, among others. She has received acclaim in Texas, New Jersey, Iowa, Chicago, Toronto, Canada, and in New York City where she also won the Queens Oratorio Competition. Also in New York, Ms. McGarvey has sung Becky in Tom Sawyer and Jenny in The Beggar’s Opers of Britten’s realization. The soprano’s other roles include Susanna (Figaro), Despina (Cosi), Micaela (Carmen), Adele (Fledermaus), Mabel (Pirates), Laetitia (The Old Maid) Manon (Manon), Sophie (Werther) and (Rosenkavalier). She has performed with the Fort Worth Opera, Dallas Opera, Lyric Opera of Dallas, Hinsdale Opera, Queens Opera, Chicago’s Lincoln Opera, and in Rome, Italy. She was a finalist in the Long Island Opera and the Center for Contemporary Opera competitions. The summers have found Ms. McGarvey following her passion for Spanish/Latin American music by singing in Barcelona, Spain, as well as organizing music for NYC’s The Water Pod, singing French cabaret songs with friends at Domain Bar du Vin, performing with Allegro Singers, directing children’s operas and enjoying her favorite out-door activities: hiking, kayaking, camping and swimming!

With degrees from Northwestern University, Ms. McGarvey completed her doctoral studies at the Manhattan School of Music where, among other recitals she featured a mixed-media production of 19th century woman composers. She is a member of Actor’s Equity as well as AGMA and has performed music theater and theater. Roles include Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), White Queen/Queen of Hearts (Alice inAnalysis), Lucky (Waiting for Godot) and Singer (Brecht on Brecht) for which the Waterloo Courier said “Her warm vibrant tone and her final song (Surabaya Johnny) was the peak of the peaks. Film credits include: “Face of Rage” with Dianne Wiest, “Play Dead”, and “The Initiation” among others.

Dr. McGarvey has taught on the faculties of Westminster Choir College, the Diploma Division of Brooklyn/Queens Conservatory of Music, Concordia College. She is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice and the Voice Coordinator of LECPSM/Queens College as well as teaching voice/voice technique at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope. She has served on the board of directors/governors of the National Opera Association and the American Guild of Musical Artists. She is the Eastern Region Governor of NOA, and a member of NAfME, with which she joined the delegation of music educators to Cuba in 2011.

Anna Moffo, Birgit Nilsson, Regina Resnick, Hughes Cuenod, Mignon Dunn, Roberto Benaglio and Alberta Masiello are some of the artists who have helped to guide Ms. McGarvey’s career. She has studied voice with Norma Newton, Cynthia Hoffmann, Susan Ormont and Sheila Harms.


“with disciplined musicianship, effortless technique and artistic maturity, Ms. McGarvey has a powerful, yet delicate voice…sparkling notes that soared smoothly time after time to lovely high notes. That’s what audiences the world over appreciate.”
-Wenatchee World
(Richard D. Lapo)

“Mary Kay McGarvey was a hit”.
-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“her coloratura voice was well suited to the role of Becky in Tom Sawyer”.
-Brooklyn Graphi

“Her voice is a beautiful one and she conveyed the thought of both text and music convincingly.”
-Waterloo Courier (C. Severin)

“the looks and manner of a young Deborah Kerr”
-Dallas Downtown News
(M. Heimberg)

“Her warm vibrant tone and her final song was the peak of peaks and a high point of the evening.”
-Waterloo Courier