Maria Schneider Orchestra
Maria Schneider, who NPR describes as “a national treasure,” calls her own shots. That and her immeasurable talent have helped her and the orchestra she guides to earn five Grammy Awards in three genres (jazz, classical, and rock), twelve Grammy nominations, and the acclaim of critics and music lovers. She added two Grammys this year, one for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for The Thompson Fields and a second for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals, for her collaboration with David Bowie on his single “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime).” The song is from Bowie’s final album, Blackstar.
It’s been almost a decade since the Maria Schneider Orchestra first performed at Penn State in a concert featuring a work co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts. Now, the orchestra returns to Eisenhower Auditorium in a concert featuring the world premiere of another Center for the Performing Arts co-commission. “Maria Schneider’s orchestral jazz is about feeling. Like Wayne Shorter, she somehow expresses compassion through tones,” writes a New York Times reviewer. The Jazz Journalists Association and the Down Beat critics poll named her Concert in the Garden and Sky Blue, in turn, “jazz album of the year.” Organizations as diverse as the Monterey Jazz and American Dance festivals, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Kronos Quartet have commissioned her to create music.
“From the lustrous opening chords of a Maria Schneider concert, you can feel you are swept off your feet and falling through space,” writes a critic for The Guardian, “but with the certainty that someone with a lot of emotional intelligence is there to catch you.”
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Patricia Best and Thomas Ray