Photo of Carlisle Floyd and Mary Carol Warwick looking over Carlisle's Prince of Players score for Houston Grand Opera's production in March 2016.
Dr. Mary Carol Warwick, protégé of noted opera composer Carlisle Floyd, is a prolific composer and librettist, whose works have been widely performed in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Republic of Singapore. Dr. Warwick — who received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Florida State University — did her post-doctoral work at the University of Houston with Carlisle Floyd.
She is a composer of both instrumental and vocal music, and is equally at home in the genres of opera (Everett Evans of the Houston Chronicle called her “the queen of children’s opera”), large-scale musical theater (having written full-length works like CELEBRATE THE EARTH, an environmental musical commissioned and premiered by Theater Under the Stars and the winner of the Mayor’s Proud Partner Award from the City of Houston), and small-scale musical theater pieces like THE WEEK-END, for two singers, piano and drums, commissioned by Theater LaB of Houston.
Warwick has also worked in experimental theater, collaborating with renowned Shakespearean scholar and librettist Kate Pogue on a trilogy of experimental musicals funded by the New Theater Project: HATS! HATS OFF!, DOMINION, and RAKE AND MOON FASTING, winner of the Texas Playwrights’ Competition Award.
As an opera composer, Warwick has written nine operas for children commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, including two bilingual operas, CINDERILLA IN SPAIN and RAPUNZEL; two operas based on fairy tales, THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES; two operas based on original stories, STREGA NONA and THE VELVETEEN RABBIT; two operas based on folk tales, THE KING STAG and THE CLEVER WIFE; and the historical opera, TEXAS!
Warwick was the recipient of Opera New World Grants for THE VELVETEEN RABBIT and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES. She also received a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge Grant for her opera, TEXAS!, and her collaboration as librettist with composer Craig Bohmler for THE ACHILLES HEEL, won them first prize in the National Opera Association’s Chamber Opera Competition. Warwick was also commissioned by Margo Mattison of Boston, Massachusetts, to write the libretto for THE TWELVE-MONTHS BROTHERS with composer John Sharpley, which had its world premiere in the Republic of Singapore.
Warwick is equally prolific in writing for instruments, and among her many purely instrumental works are these chamber and full orchestral pieces: SONATA FOR VIOLA AND PIANO — commissioned by Houston Symphony Violist Daniel Strba — which has had performances in Houston, New York, and Chicago; SONATA FOR 2 OBOES, BASSOON AND PIANO, commissioned by Houston Symphony Oboist Anne Leek; SUITE FOR WINDS, commissioned by the Wind Ensemble of Florida State University; OVERTURE FOR STRING ORCHESTRA, commissioned by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra; SYMPHONIC PARODY FOR FLY DANCE, commissioned by Fly Dance Troupe for the Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra; SUITE FROM TWINS, commissioned by the Houston Community Symphony Orchestra; PETITE SUITE for Woodwind quintet and dancers; and SIN CITY BALLET, commissioned by Theater Under the Stars of Houston, TX. Other works include a commission from NASA to write a wake-up call for Space Shuttle Mission STS-33.
The majority of Warwick’s compositional output, however, is vocal chamber music. She has written more than 80 works for various combinations of soloists, choruses and instrumentalists. WHO AM I?, a song cycle for Baritone, Bassoon, Percussion and Piano, based on The Gathering: poems. prayers and meditations of young people “at risk” or in prison was commissioned by Anthony Turner in association with the Foundation for Modern Music of Houston; THE JEMMA SONGS, set to the poems of eleven-year-old Jemma Leech, and scored for Soprano, Viola, Oboe and Piano was commissioned by the Greenbriar Consortium of Houston; STILL WE DANCE, scored for jazz trio and tenor, is a setting of the poems of people living with HIV/AIDS, and has had performances in Houston, New York, and Budapest; CELEBRATE LIFE! THE BATTLE OF THE BREAST, a song cycle for chamber orchestra with Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Contralto, Tenor and Bass Voices, is based on the poems of women and family members touched by breast cancer, co-commissioned by The Greenbriar Consortium of Houston (a chamber ensemble from the Houston Symphony) and Downtown Music Productions, Mimi Stern-Wolfe, Artistic Director. Other vocal chamber works include: A WOMAN IN COSTA RICA, for Mezzo Soprano, Violin, Viola and Piano; the GRETEL SONGS, 3 songs for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Flute, Oboe and Piano; the IKE SONGS, 3 songs for Soprano, Oboe, Viola and Piano; and numerous others.
Mary Carol Warwick
Photo of Mary Carol Warwick with her mentor Carlisle Floyd, and Buck Ross, Founder and Director of the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston. Taken April 2014 at the Moores School Gala honoring Floyd's contributions to American Opera.