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The Maria Schneider Orchestra

A century ago, in September 1905, the Mahaiwe Theater opened its doors in Great Barrington, Mass. A home for vaudeville, and later for movies, this medium-sized gem of a theater in the Berkshires eventually fell into disuse. But today, the community is supporting a complete restoration of the magnificent interior, adding air conditioning, digital sound and a glorious new curtain. That curtain rises on the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

Maria Schneider. Photo by David Korchin

2005 has been a memorable year for Schneider. She won a Grammy and walked away with four Jazz Journalists Awards. And that was just in the first six months.

Schneider is slim with long red hair. She dances as she conducts. She moved from Minnesota via the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., to New York City, where she ran into composer Gil Evans in a copy shop. She became his assistant. Another great influence on her colorful yet transparent writing for orchestra is Bob Brookmeyer.

In the early '90s, Schneider formed a big band that she led every Monday night at Visiones (now defunct) in Greenwich Village. Now, many Schneider compositions later, the same orchestra is at home throughout the world. When the full band can't make it, Schneider travels alone, leading orchestras in clinics and performances of her remarkable book.

Schneider also has left the record companies behind. She is leading the jazz world in marketing her music through her highly functional Web site. Her CDs are limited editions available through Scores, interviews and online features give teachers and students access to her work. Many jazz musicians are following her model, developed in partnership with ArtistShare.


Alex Sipiagin
Tony Kadleck
Greg Gisbert
Laurie Frink

Larry Farrell
Keith O'Quinn
Rock Ciccarone
Geo Flynn, bass trombone

(including saxophones, flutes, clarinets, oboe and English horn)
Rich Perry
Chas Pillow
Steve Kenyon
Donny McCaslin
Scott Robinson

Frank Kimbrough, piano
John Hart, guitar
Christian McBride, bass
Clarence Penn, drums
David Silliman, percussion

Ken Jablonski, sound

"El Viento," commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and premiered on JazzSet in the late 1990s
"Choro Danšado" and "Danša Ilusoria" (a fantasy foxtrot) from Three Romances, commissioned by the University of Miami
"Hang Gliding"

Concert in the Garden
Days of Wine and Roses, Live at the Jazz Standard Allegresse
Coming About


  • Maria Schneider's Web Site

    Thanks to Martin Messer, Jonathan Secor and his team at the Mahaiwe, also sound man Bruce Clapper and assistant Peter Lindstrom; Marlene Whittemore with the Orchestra; Music mixer Duke Markos, and technicians Jason O'Connell and Adam Kushner.

    Our producer is Becca Pulliam; executive producer Thurston Briscoe III of Jazz88, WBGO in Newark.

    Copyright 2007 NPR