Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She became widely known for the orchestra she founded in 1992. They appeared at Visiones in Greenwich Village every Monday night for a stretch of five years. Subsequently, the Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide, and she herself has received numerous commissions and guest conducting invites working with over 85 groups from over 30 countries spanning Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and North America.
Commissions include arranging and conducting concerts for the Norrbotten Big Band and Danish Radio Orchestra with Toots Thielemans. Other commissioning organizations include the Metropole Orchestra in the Netherlands, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, Orchestra National de Jazz (Recapitulaion), Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra (El Viento), Monterey Jazz Festival (Scenes from Childhood, Willow Lake), University of Miami Concert Jazz Band (Three Romances “Grammy-nominated”), Hunter College (Concert in the Garden, Sky Blue), Jazz at Lincoln Center (Buleria, Solea y Rumba “Grammy-nominated”), Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (Aires de Lando), the American Dance Festival for dance company, Pilobolus (Dissolution), Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival (Cerulean Skies), Kronos Quartet (String Quartet No. 1) and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for soprano, Dawn Upshaw (Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories) which will be given its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall, May 13th, 2011, in a performance conducted by Schneider.
Schneider has composed for two unique commissions through her ArtistShare® website fan base where she documented her process of composing the music for various participants. Those commissioners are, Christophe Asselineau (The Thompson Fields), and Bill and Carol Bloemer, Justin Freed, Paul James and John Koerber (Lembrança). Her most recent work is being commissioned by the Ojai Festival for the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Dawn Upshaw, for which she is setting poems by Ted Kooser, from his book, Winter Morning Walks, to be premiered June 12th, 2011.
Schneider and her orchestra have a distinguished recording career as well. Their debut recording, Evanescence, was nominated for two 1995 Grammy Awards. Her second and third recordings, Coming About and Allégresse were also Grammy-nominated, Allégresse being chosen by TIME and BILLBOARD in their Top Ten Recordings of 2000, inclusive of all genres of music.
Her most recent recordings have brought two Grammy awards, the first for Concert in the Garden (Best Large Ensemble Album), released only through her website. It became historic as the first record to win a Grammy with Internet-only sales. The second Grammy was awarded for Cerulean Skies (Best Instrumental Composition).
Concert in the Garden and her orchestra’s latest album, Sky Blue (on which Cerulean Skies was recorded) were both named “Jazz Album of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association and the DOWNBEAT Critics Poll. “She now has become entrenched among the ranks of America’s leading composers. … For Schneider, the question is no longer whether she can sustain the heights she has attained on earlier recordings; it is now how far her musical journey will take her.” –DOWNBEAT “… She puts together stories that speak with the clarity of Ernest Hemingway and the musical grace of Aaron Copland.” –PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW “It seemed impossible for Schneider to top her Grammy-winning Concert in the Garden, but she’s done just that with Sky Blue. She has elevated her music to a seemingly impossible height. … Cerulean Skies is the masterpiece within a masterpiece, … Magnificent. A magical work of art, from beginning to end.” –ALLABOUTJAZZ.com “Maria Schneider’s orchestral jazz is about feeling. Like Wayne Shorter, she somehow expresses compassion through tones.” –THE NEW YORK TIMES “To call Schneider the most important woman in jazz is missing the point … She is a major composer–period.” –TIME MAGAZINE “Twenty-one musicians of tremendous technical sophistication and emotional energy channel their talents through the direction of the most significant big-band jazz composer of our time.” –THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR For more information, visit MariaSchneider.com Photo by Dani Gurgel