12 Things You May Not Know About Maria Schneider
February 28, 2023
The Gilmore welcomes jazz composer and bandleader Maria Schneider and the Maria Schneider Orchestra on Sunday, March 12, at 4 pm at Chenery Auditorium in Kalamazoo, playing from the jazz double album Data Lords, in a concert that will also be livestreamed. An artist known for blurring the lines between genres, with her orchestra of 18 of the finest jazz musicians playing today, bring 21st-century energy to the jazz orchestra landscape. Here are a few things you may not know about Maria Schneider and her jazz orchestra.
- As with many great artists, Maria’s talent appeared early: she began studying the piano at age 5, and by age eight she’d written her first composition.
- Maria is an avid bird watcher. She once announced to her first-grade class and teacher, “I am going to be an ornithologist.” She has said that it was while composing Concert in the Garden that she realized her love of birds had inspired the music, unconsciously building on childhood memories of Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Soras amid windblown reeds that she watched from her treehouse in rural Minnesota. The album was the first Grammy winner for the fan-funded platform ArtistShare, which has since received 33 Grammy nominations and 11 wins.
- Maria attended the University of Minnesota, and earned a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music. She currently lives in Manhattan.
- Schneider’s first job after college was as copyist and assistant to jazz pianist, arranger, composer and bandleader Gil Evans, working with him on music for a tour with Sting and as he scored the film The Color of Money.
- Her collaboration with David Bowie was one she hesitated to agree to, but Bowie came to her home with a rough demo the night after hearing her at New York’s legendary Birdland club. “When I heard what he played,” says Schneider, “I thought, ‘You know, I think I can put something of my world into that! Maybe I can do this!’ The recording led to a 2016 Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals.
- The Grammy-winning Data Lords album was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and named Album of the Year by National Public Radio in the U.S.
- The title track of Data Lords was commissioned by the U.S. Library of Congress.
- March 2023 is the 30th anniversary of The Maria Schneider Orchestra, an 18-member group that includes today’s best jazz musicians. Luckily, all of the members can be in Kalamazoo for our concert, so that this can truly be an anniversary to remember.
- The Gilmore loves all keyboard instruments, including the accordion. Orchestra member Julien Labro is returning to Kalamazoo after appearing at the 2018 Gilmore Piano Festival.
- Schneider is a tireless advocate for artists rights, and has testified before Congress and consulted with the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Schneider was elected in 2020 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2019 was named an NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
- We have a lot to look forward to: reviewers are consistently impressed with Schneider:
- “A composer and orchestrator of penetrating insight.” – The New York Times
- “To call Schneider the most important woman in jazz is missing the point two ways. She is a major composer, period.” – Time Magazine
- “This is music of extravagant mastery, and it comes imbued with a spirit of risk…” – National Public Radio
- “A riveting, remarkably intense double album, as profound as modern-day instrumental music gets,” – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- “Data Lords is a work of holistic creativity…I can’t conceive of anyone else creating this music…” – The Nation