Jazz composer, bandleader, and musician advocate helms student sessions and a March 16 performance of the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble.
A musical chameleon who has summited jazz’s highest peaks, composer and bandleader Maria Schneider is widely praised for her work with the Maria Schneider Orchestra across a career that spans three decades. In that time, she has demonstrated herself to be equally at home in classical realms and even collaborated with rock legend David Bowie.
This week Schneider shares her artistry with Oberlin students in a residency that culminates in a performance with the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble at Finney Chapel on Saturday, March 16.
A five-time Grammy Award winner and a regular pick for Best Composer, Arranger, and Big Band in DownBeat and JazzTimes’ annual critics’ polls, Schneider most recently was honored with a 2019 NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship.
Schneider also has earned a reputation as an outspoken advocate for musicians. Her 2004 recording Concert in the Garden became the first album to win a Grammy Award with internet-only sales; the first release via ArtistShare, it was also the first album to affirm the viability of crowdfunding. Schneider has become a leading voice on the issue of musicians' rights to their music, and she testified before a Congressional Subcommitte on the subject in 2014.
“Maria Schneider has been one of the jazz world's foremost composers and big band leaders for years,” says Bobby Ferrazza, chair of Oberlin’s Division of Jazz Studies. “Her music is firmly rooted in tradition and forward thinking at the same time. It has been our goal to have her to campus for a long time, and we are beyond excited to finally have her here.”
The residency begins Tuesday with a clinic for composition students from 3:30-5 p.m. in Bibbins Hall 232.
It continues Thursday, March 14, with an arranging clinic from 3:30-5 p.m. in Stull Recital Hall, then a talk entitled “Music Business: Take Control of Your Work” from 7-8 p.m., also in Stull Hall.
Schneider takes the helm for a performance of the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in Finney Chapel. The set list serves as a showcase for standout compositions by Schneider spanning numerous recordings: "Wyrgly," “Green Piece,” “Gumba Blue,” “Walking by Flashlight” (from her 2015 Grammy Award-winning album The Thompson Fields), and “Dance You Monster to My Soft Song.”
Also on the program are Schneider arrangements of Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow” and the Arlen/Johnny Mercer tune “That Old Black Magic.”
All events are free and open to the public.
In addition, Schneider will take part in a live interview with the student hosts of Oberlin Conservatory's Making CONnections program, which airs Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. on WOBC radio 91.5 FM.