Mary of Egypt
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Mary of Egypt


Band Alternative Avant-garde


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"Mary of Egypt's Debut at the Local 269, NY, NY"

For most of her life, Mary Of Egypt founder and bandleader Julia Hatamyar has sought to make pop music that also functions as a modern offshoot of classical traditions. Don’t worry, if that sounds like a highbrow pursuit to you, Hatamyar’s music suggests that Romantic-period composers like Brahms and Chopin may have been better suited for pop than we’ve been led to believe. Still, it takes a special vision to make 19th-century writing techniques sound at home within electronic-tinged singer-songwriter pop. And on Mary Of Egypt’s 2010 debut EP, Hatamyar, along with a sizable cast of supporting musicians, makes classical and pop perspectives sound so utterly natural together it’s as they were never separate.

This is nothing short of remarkable considering the sense of culture clash that still pervades in spite of what appear to be numerous steps towards fruitful reconciliation. But four decades after producers George Martin and Phil Spector wove strings into the pop-culture fabric forever (and longer still since Gershwin), an awkward morning-after sensation lingers whenever pop and classical share a bed. It’s as if, in spite of the attraction, the two must remain in different, irreconcilable worlds. To be fair, it’s hard to dismantle cliches wrought, on the one hand, by the likes of Metallica and Deep Purple lumbering alongside orchestras while, on the other, “pops” orchestras across the country pussyfoot through a moth-balled repertoire of top 40 hits every summer.

Somehow, though, it seems like 20 years’ worth of bands cleverly re-contextualizing classical instruments should have gotten us somewhere. Closer inspection reveals why we haven’t: ensembles like Rachel’s, eighth blackbird and The Kronos Quartet make highly cerebral “new music” (i.e: “contemporary classical”), not pop. Meanwhile, groups like Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot employ classical instrumentation strictly as pop accessories. With Mary Of Egypt (which alternates between five and eight members live and rehearses in Brooklyn), Hatamyar has created an offspring sound that genuinely owes for its existence in both directions. A conservatory-trained pianist who also sings in addition to composing all of the material, it’s no surprise that Hatamyar writes intricate, harmonically sophisticated music. But Mary Of Egypt’s work, which also includes a more recent three-song demo, is also strikingly accessible.

To be put it simply, Hatamyar has one hell of a knack for writing a tune. Mary Of Egypt songs unfold like compact epics, each one covering what feels like a vast distance over shifting terrain in a relatively short stretch of time. By the time “For Marya” reaches its elegiac ending—a simultaneous climax/denoument executed with an exquisite mix of restraint and emotional punch—the listener lands on another musical continent altogether from the coy, pigeon-toed whimsy the tune opens with. Likewise, the punkish, indie-rock pace at the beginning of “October, 2008” sounds totally out of place—until Hatamyar and her accomplices reel it back in and take it in several successive directions.

Mary Of Egypt’s ingenuity doesn’t lie so much in the way the tunes change radically from one second to the next, but in how cohesively (and memorably) the tunes gel as a whole. Oboes, cellos, accordions, trombones, violas, etc. blend with guitars-drums-bass and silk-thin electronic threads, but no individual part, not even Hatamyar’s piano or vocal, stands out to the detriment of the rest. In this regard (and also with her rich lyrics), Hatamyar sets herself apart from the cloying egocentrism typical of the singer/songwriter form.

The Romantic composers sought to connect with audiences by writing emotionally rousing melodies that listeners could hum and remember. If we could bring them back today, they would no doubt be startled by Mary Of Egypt’s contemporary sonic framework. But it’s fair to think that some of them might see Hatamyar as a worthy successor to their aspirations. For most of us, this music will likely work in reverse—we recognize its freshness, but because it’s anchored by listenability and songs, we slip past the disorientation that usually comes with our first taste of groundbreaking art. Make no mistake, though: countless others may have tread this ground before, but none quite like this.



EP- released 8/28/10
1. For Mrs. Diver
2. For Zina
3. For Marya
4. Gamin
5. October, 2008

Band Demos [unreleased]
1. JO
2. "I ain't clean"
3. The Chief

Chamber Music (for piano, voice, and strings)
1. Couplets I
2. Couplets II
3. Melody I



Mary of Egypt is the collected musical projects of Iranian-American pianist and songwriter Julia Hatamyar. The performance group Mary of Egypt is made up of former Eastman students who play arrangements of Julia’s compositions, as well as pieces written specifically for the ensemble. The Brooklyn based band employs the textures, idioms, and instrumentation of indie rock but channels them through the structure, phrasing, and dynamic contrasts of western classical music. Most of the music also expounds upon a particular social or ideological theme.
The music has been described as a blend of Schubert and Freddie Mercury, and compared to artists such as the Dirty Projectors and Regina Spektor. Subject matter in Julia’s work is determined not only by informal autobiographical material, as in the work of traditional singer-songwriters, but also encompasses global/political/social themes and incorporates literature ranging from Fitzgerald to Dostoevsky to the bible.
Mary of Egypt is available for live bookings across a wide geographical area. Based in Brooklyn, NY and central New Jersey, the band also will be performing across New England.

Band Member Bios

Will Chapin, guitar, Boston, MA- B.M. Eastman School of Music
Will has performed in almost every style of improvised music, mainly in the Rochester, NY area. He was a member of the groups Thank You Building, Tatyana, Trio Schema, the Dave Rivello Ensemble, and the Eastman Jazz Ensemble. In addition to his jazz curriculum at Eastman, he also studied classical guitar under Nicholas Goluses, and participated in the new music ensemble Musica Nova under the direction of Brad Lubman. Will began teaching guitar in high school and has taught intermittently throughout his musical career. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in engineering at Boston University.

Greg Chudzik, bass, Brooklyn, NY – B.M. Eastman School of Music
After graduating from Eastman in 2006, Greg moved to Brooklyn NY where he collaborates on several musical projects in addition to freelance engagements, including the BQE Project, Mimesis Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, Talea Ensemble and the David Crowell Ensemble. In the summer of 2008, Greg had the opportunity to work with several influential figures in contemporary music, including the Bang on a Can All-Stars at their summer music festival in North Adams, Massachusetts as well as Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin at the Lucerne Summer Music Festival in Switzerland. Greg’s recording credits include playing on the Grammy-nominated “Barcelonaza” by Jorge Leiderman, a recording for composer Scott Johnson to be released on the Tzadik label, multiple recordings for Signal Ensemble to be released on New Amsterdam and Mode Records, and recording with the rock band The National on their album High Violet.

Charlie Dye, drums, Collinsville, CT – B.M. Eastman School of Music
Charlie studied drumset with Rich Thompson, classical percussion with John Beck and Balinese Gamelan with Nyoman Suadin. He is currently performing with a variety of groups throughout New England including Sunspots (Indie Pop/Folk), Crystal Blue Project (Funk, Rock and Blues), The Backline (Fusion trio and Live/Studio rhythm section for hire), Andy Akiho (Contemporary Classical meets Soca with Steel Pan, Harp and Strings), Trio Schema (Free Improvisation) and Basecadet (Southern Metal Ska Rock). He also maintains private teaching studios located in Avon, CT and Vernon, CT emphasizing groove, song forms, and technique, while fostering creativity through improvisation. He has performed with artists such as David Krakauer, Dick Oatts, Fred Wesley, Todd Reynolds, Brad Lubman and German Schauss.

Grace Hatamyar, management, vocals, New York City, NY – Barnard College Class of 2012
Currently a junior at Barnard College of Columbia University, Grace lends her years of vocal experience to Mary of Egypt. Grace has been a trained pianist since early childhood, began studying voice at the age of 7, and has taken dance, theatre, guitar, art, and electronic music classes throughout high school. Grace has performed with the Lyric Theatre Company and Canterbury Choral Society in Oklahoma City. She has starred in leading theatrical roles and participated in choirs at the Lawrenceville Preparatory School and Classen School of Advanced Studies. Grace is also co-host of a radio program on WBAR, Barnard student radio.

Julia Hatamyar, artistic director/vocals/keyboards/electronics, Flemington, NJ
Julia Hatamyar began studying the piano at the age of 3, and composing music at age 5. During her high school years, she worked as a professional accompanist and taught piano, and in 2007 she received her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music. While completing her academic studies, Julia also studied computer music, was involved in various pop music projects, took jazz piano, vocal, and classical organ lesso