In the weeks leading up to the World Premiere of The Book of Rounds this November, we will post interviews with the singers who bring such grace to the Sounds True recording. The summer solstice marks the launch of our 21-week countdown, and we begin this week with Mary Kleshefsky, whose beautiful, haunting soprano voice opens “Grace,” the album’s opening track.
Introducing Mary Kleshefsky, a Book of Rounds soprano who is featured on two of the album’s songs, Grace and Rain. Mary hails from Long Island, New York, and received her undergraduate degree from Yale University, where she majored in art history. Originally, Mary planned on graduating with the class of 2013 but took a year off to be the “pitchpipe” or musical director of Whim n’ Rhythm, Yale’s senior all-female a cappella group, ultimately graduating in 2014.
Even before college, singing was one of Mary’s primary passions, beginning with musical theater performances and involvement in various choirs. Continuing at Yale, most of Mary’s extracurricular life was similarly devoted to singing. Before being the musical director of Whim n’ Rhythm, Mary also sang in and “pitched” Redhot and Blue, Yale’s oldest co-ed a cappella group. “There’s nothing like singing with a small group of people in tight harmony,” says Mary. “The best feeling is when it locks in and everyone’s looking at each other. It sounds cheesy but it’s magical.”
Besides a cappella, Mary is drawn to singers that use music to bare the soul, particularly on folk-influenced songs accompanied by a guitar or banjo. After college, while doing some consulting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was oftentimes original pieces in just this style that brought Mary to open mics, self-accompanied on the guitar. Now, she resides in London, where she works as an au pair for the children of family friends. Not unlike learning a close harmony or rehearsing for hours at a time, Mary finds working with children to be “difficult – but extremely rewarding.” And while Mary is currently doing more caretaking than singing, she says that any questions of the future – for her – hold a musical answer. “I’ve always dreamed of having not exactly a band but a small group of singers or folk-type instruments with a weekly gig,” she says.
Looking back, Mary considers Grace to have been one of her favorite song on the Book of Rounds. Although Mary soloed on the song, she notes that the song’s build is one of her favorite moments of the entire album, particularly the swell of voices at the end of the piece. Grace is the first track on the Book of Rounds and can be heard here:
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Interview by Lucy Tomasso
Lucy Tomasso is a prospective Theater Studies major at Yale and an avid a cappella singer. A member of Yale’s Redhot and Blue, she is honored be a descendant of the Redhot lineage. Lucy hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, particularly writing for either the stage or screen.