Maria Grenfell was born in Malaysia in 1969 and educated in Christchurch, New Zealand. She completed further studies in the U.S. at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where she was also a lecturer. Her teachers have included Stephen Hartke, Erica Muhl, James Hopkins, and Morten Lauridsen at USC, and Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler at Eastman. Her work takes much of its influence from poetic, literary, and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature.
Grenfell has had works performed by musicians, ensembles, and orchestras in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, the United States, South Africa, and the U.K. She has been a violinist with the Christchurch Symphony and the New Zealand Youth Orchestra, and has performed bowed piano with the USC Thornton Percussion Ensemble. She is a lecturer at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music.
The composer provided the following note:
Ceol na Fidhle (pronounced 'kee-OL na fiddle'), for violin and percussion, is based on Celtic bagpipe and fiddle tunes. Some of the tunes are obvious while others are almost hidden. "Prologue" starts with a bang and is followed by "Hornpipe," where a familiar tune dances and then scurries away beneath a disguise of accompanying notes and rhythmic displacement. "The Boatman" slows the pace and melodic decoration suggests the sound of bagpipes playing this rather wistful song. Finally, "Reel" returns to the highly charged drive of "Prologue" with a frantic and virtuosic ending. Ceol na Fidhle was written in 1999 for Tasmanian musicians Rachel Bremner and Tom O'Kelly.