Music with Minnesotans: Mary Lee

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
November 21, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — I met Mary Lee for the first time as I was just getting settled into my cube on the fourth floor of MPR six years ago.

Here was this legend in the biz — she's won just about every award in broadcasting, Peabody, Gracie, Deems Taylor — and she was the main behind-the-scenes person for the program that inspired me to become a DJ myself: Saint Paul Sunday.

Mary moved on from Classical MPR the week I arrived and for the last few years has been the Executive Director of the male vocal ensemble Cantus.

Of course I had to ask about her background in music, which is nearly non-existent. Mary never sang or played an instrument and was only introduced to music in college where she went to every concert and recital she could manage — but finding a special affinity for the intimacy of chamber music.

And that understanding and love of small ensembles has been her driving force and the reason for her great success with Cantus, a group expanding its horizons, recording with a vengeance and singing better than ever.

We'll hear some Cantus of course, but also a few performances from Mary's Saint Paul Sunday days — and a few back-stage stories as well.

Mary Lee's playlist:

Johann Sebastian Bach, Partita No. 4: Allemande - Richard Goode

Randall Thompson, Alleluia - Cantus

Victor Young, My Foolish Heart - Marian McPartland (MPR "American Air")

Edgar Meyer, String Quintet - Emerson Quartet and Edgar Meyer, bass

Next week, my guest is actor Ryan Shipley. He tells me he absolutely loves going to work, it's just that much fun. Ryan's a classroom facilitator at Project Success, a youth development organization that helps students set and reach their goals.

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