Maria Schneider is a composer and bandleader who has performed and collaborated with musicians from all over the world. She is also a Windom, Minnesota native, a fact that shines through in her latest work, The Thompson Fields. Drawing on memories of her childhood growing up in rural Minnesota, Schneider crafted what some consider an ode to nature.
Currently on tour performing this Grammy-winning album, Schneider and her orchestra will be making a stop in Minnesota to perform at the O’Shaughnessy tonight. In celebration of her homecoming performance, here are ten essential things to know about one of Minnesota’s most successful musicians.
1. Maria Schneider was born in Southwestern Minnesota, in the city of Windom. She is now based in New York City, but returns to Minnesota a few times a year.
2. She studied music at the University of Minnesota, focusing on music theory and composition. In 2013, she received an honorary doctorate from the university.
3. She moved to New York City in 1985 to study composition with Bob Brookmeyer, the well-known jazz trombonist, arranger and composer. Around this same time, Schneider also began working for jazz musician and composer Gil Evans as his assistant.
4. In 1993, she formed the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. With her orchestra she has performed at countless concert halls and jazz festivals in the U.S. as well as in Europe, Asia, and South America.
5. Schneider has performed in 30 different countries with over 80 different groups. She has also guest-conducted in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, and across the U.S.
6. Evanescence, her debut album released in 1994, earned her two nominations at the 1995 Grammy Awards. Coming About and Allégresse, her second and third recordings respectively, were also nominated for Grammys.
7. In 2005, Schneider won the Grammy Award for Best Large Ensemble Album for Concert in the Garden. The album was only released via the crowdfunding website, ArtistShare — making it the first Grammy-winning recording with internet-only sales.
8. Throughout her career, Schneider has won a total of five Grammy Awards, as well as countless other awards including the Doris Duke award in 1998, “Composer of the Year” and “Arranger of the Year” Jazz Journalists Awards in 2005, and a Choc Award in France in 2007.
9. Her 2007 release Sky Blue not only won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition, but it was one of only two albums from that year that was given a five-star review by Downbeat.
10. In 2015, Schneider collaborated with David Bowie on the song “Sue (or In a Season of Crime).” The song went on to win a Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals.
Lillian Speakman is a senior at Hamline University.