Maria Riccio Bryce
Maria had her first piano lesson at the age of nine - and so her story began. At 11, she entered an essay contest given by the DAR, the assigned title of which was “Footsteps on the Sands of Time.” Contestants typically wrote about Abraham Lincoln or John Glenn; Maria wrote about Ludwig van Beethoven. However, she left classical music behind when her youngest sister was cast as Gretl von Trapp in a summer stock production of The Sound of Music at the Saratoga Spa Music Theatre. The theatre! Actors, on a stage! Music and lyrics! Maria had never seen anything like it. She made it her business to shadow Sophie at every single rehearsal, and she never looked back.
As a young actress, and a proud member of British Actors’ Equity Association, Maria and her former husband created and ran, for nearly a decade, The Overground Theatre, which became one of the leading Fringe theatres in London in the 1970s. They produced and directed over 100 plays there, and it was at the Overground that Maria began songwriting. She can still recall the thrilling sense of recognizing that she was coming into her own. She wrote music and lyrics for By George, a musical about George IV, with book by Royce Ryton, author of Crown Matrimonial. She wrote music and lyrics for Puffball, based on the novel by Fay Weldon. Her revue, Your Beautiful Women, was recorded for BBC Radio 4. When, in the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s reign, the Overground Theatre’s arts subsidy was cut, along with the subsidies of 40 other theatres, Maria defiantly wrote music and lyrics for A Time of Your Life, a musical about a married couple running their own theatre who lose their government funding. Nonetheless, their theatre closed soon after, and Maria and her young family returned to the USA, and ultimately, to the Mohawk Valley.
This was an unexpected turn which initially caused Maria to feel sidetracked…but, in fact, the move opened the floodgates to memory, and to a sense of time and place, that has inspired her work ever since.
Maria is the creator of Mother, I’m Here, a revue on the subject of womanhood, produced at Proctor’s Theatre and the Egg; Hearts of Fire, a musical commissioned by the City of Schenectady about the events leading to the Schenectady Massacre of 1690 and its aftermath, produced twice at Proctor’s; Missa Cordis, a Mass setting; Hiroshima, a symphonic work; and her musical memoir, Swan Song.
She composed The Amsterdam Oratorio, a full-length choral work comprised of 16 songs, each featuring a different facet of life in her hometown. It premiered in Amsterdam to an audience of 1,000 on October 5, 2001, and, at the curtain call on opening night, the Mayor strode across the stage and presented Maria with the Key to the City. The production of a CD recording of the Oratorio was paid for by Amsterdam native Kirk Douglas, and a line from one of the Oratorio’s lyrics is permanently engraved on the MVGO bridge spanning the Mohawk River in Amsterdam.
Maria’s Christmas album, Remember Me, Remember You, was recorded in 2021, and can be heard on all streaming devices. Her most recent work, Requiem: What Remains is Love, premiered on November 4, 2022, at St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church in Schenectady. This past May, the Requiem was taken on a ‘Memorial Tour’, and performed at various churches in the Capital District.
- Community Theatre
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Upstate NY
Interested in touring?
- Theatrical Composer (Music and Lyrics)
- Theatrical Bookwriter
- Music Director/Conductor (Pianist)
- Theatrical Director