Born in 1960 in Windom, Minnesota, Maria Schneider studied music theory and composition at the University of Minnesota. She went on to earn a Master of Music from Eastman School of Music in Jazz Writing and Contemporary Media. After graduating from Eastman she worked for Gil Evans as his copyist and assistant. They worked together with on music for Sting and the score for the film The Color of Money, starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. She later studied privately with Bob Brookmeyer.
In 1989 she formed a jazz ensemble with Jon Fedchock, and in 1993 went on to form her own group, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. Her group performed weekly at Visiones in New York City and she released her first record as a band leader in 1994 titled Evanesence.
Maria Schnieder is one of few artists who have won Grammy Awards in both jazz and classical. Her most recent album with Dawn Upshaw, Winter Morning Walks, won three Grammys: Best Contemporary Classical Composition (‘Winter Morning Walks’), Best Classical Vocal Performance (Dawn Upshaw), and Best Engineered Recording/Classical (David Frost, Brian Losch, Tim Martyn).
Her work with her jazz orchestra has brought her and the ensemble ten Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards. The album Concert in the Garden was the first award-winning album produced by ArtistShare and was the first album to win a Grammy with Internet-only sales.
Maria Schneider will be here at Berklee this week as part of The State of Jazz Composition Symposium, giving a workshop and concert. You can click here for tickets and more information about The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra’s performance at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday, April 26.
Check out her interview to see her advice to young composers and click here to watch the full interview.