"white lilies" - a new work for vocalist and orchestra [forthcoming]

( Image Credit: "La Vague" by Gustave Courbet )


“White Lilies” is a forthcoming work for vocalist and orchestra by composer Mary Bichner. The piece is a brand new musical setting of the 17th-century Scottish poem “James Harris/The Daemon Lover”, which tells the story of a woman who is visited by her long lost love, whom she thought had died at sea.

The lyrics to the work are a composite of the eight versions of the poem found in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child [1825-1896], with a few lyrical variations and re-wordings added in by the composer, to preserve the newly-created melody line and structure.

Singularly, Mary has composed “White Lilies” largely — but not entirely — in the Locrian mode, a dissonant modal scale rarely used in Western music due to its instability. The Locrian mode’s mysterious and unsettling energy lends itself perfectly to the historical poem’s haunting tale.

A piano-and-vocal version of “White Lilies” was completed in December of 2023, with an orchestral version currently in progress. A recording and live premiere of “White Lilies” is anticipated in 2024-2025.

Contact INformation

For more information on "White Lilies", please contact the composer at:


 Sign up for Mary's email list:

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.