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The Grammy-award winning composer and arranger MARIA SCHNEIDER was born in Windom, Minnesota. She arrived in New York City in 1985 after studies at the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami, and the Eastman School of Music. She immediately sought out Bob Brookmeyer to study composition. At the same time she became an assistant to Gil Evans, working on various projects with him, but most notably, the film The Color of Money and music for the Gil Evans/Sting tour in 1987. In recent years she's been invited to conduct Evans' music extensively featuring such musicians as Jon Faddis, Wallace Roney, Miles Evans, Ingrid Jensen, and David Sanborn.
The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra was formed in 1993, appearing at Visiones in Greenwich Village every Monday night for a stretch of five years. Subsequently, her orchestra received invitations to perform at many jazz festivals and concert halls across Europe as well as in Brazil and Macau. She's received numerous commissions and invitations to guest conduct her music with American and European orchestras. Countries in which she has guest conducted include Italy, Portugal, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Canada, Scotland, Australia, Greenland, and Iceland, as well as across the U.S. Commissions include the Norrbotten Big Band's and Danish Radio Orchestra's commission to arrange and conduct concerts with Toots Thielemans. Other commissioning organizations include the Metropole Orchestra, the Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Jazz (Recapitulation), the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra (El Viento), the Monterey Jazz Festival (Scenes from Childhood), the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band (Three Romances), and Jazz at Lincoln Center (Bulería, Soleá y Rumba). Schneider was also the recipient of a Doris Duke award to compose a dance work (Dissolution) in collaboration with the Pilobolus dance group. It was performed with her orchestra at the American Dance Festival and Kennedy Center. She arranged a concert of Ivan Lins' music for Ivan Lins, Toots Thielemans, and the Danish Radio Orchestra for an extensive European tour in 2003. During spring of 2004, she and her orchestra gave a series of four concerts at Hunter College. Hunter commissioned Schneider in her two most recent commissions, Concert in the Garden and Sky Blue. Concert in the Garden is the title piece from her newest CD that has been produced and released through mariaschneider.com, the first site of its kind powered by the groundbreaking company, ArtistShare.
In 2005, Schneider won a Grammy in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble for her recording of Concert in the Garden. In addition to winning in that category, she was also nominated twice for Best Instrumental Composition. Schneider's Grammy marks the first time an artist has won the award for a recording that is not available in stores. In 1995, her debut recording, Evanescence, was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance, and for its title piece, Best Instrumental Composition. Her second and third recordings, Coming About and Allegresse, were also both nominated for Grammys. Schneider has received two Jazz Journalist Awards as Best Composer, two as Best Arranger, and one for her orchestra, Best Big Band. Schneider has won many of the Downbeat and JazzTimes Critics and Readers Polls. Her third album, Allegresse was chosen by both Time and Billboard in their "Top Ten Recordings of 2000," which included all genres of music.