Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, imaginative, revelatory, riveting, daring, and beyond categorization.” Blurring the lines between genres, her varied commissioners stretch from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to the American Dance Festival, and include collaboration with David Bowie. She is among a small few to receive GRAMMYS in multiple genres, having received the award in jazz and classical, as well as for her work with David Bowie.
With her first recording, Evanescence (1994), Schneider began developing her personal way of writing for her 18-member collective made up of many of the finest musicians in jazz today, tailoring her compositions to the uniquely creative voices of the group. They have performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide, and she herself has received numerous commissions and guest-conducting invites, working with over 90 groups in over 30 countries.
Unique funding of projects has become a hallmark for Schneider through the trend-setting company, ArtistShare. And, in 2004, Concert in the Garden became historic as the first recording to win a GRAMMY with Internet-only sales. Even more significantly, it blazed the "crowd-funding" trail as ArtistShare’s first release, and was eventually inducted into the 2019 National Recording Registry.
Schneider’s many honors also include: 14 GRAMMY-nominations, 7 GRAMMY Awards, numerous Jazz Journalists Association awards, DOWNBEAT and JAZZTIMES Critics and Readers Polls awards, an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, ASCAP’s esteemed Concert Music Award (2014), the nation's highest honor in jazz, “NEA Jazz Master” (2019) (NEA Jazz Master Speech found here), election into the 2020 American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 2023 induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
A strong voice for music advocacy, Schneider has testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on digital rights, has given commentary on CNN, participated in round-tables for the United States Copyright Office, has been quoted in numerous publications for her views on Spotify, YouTube, Google, digital rights, and music piracy, and has written various white papers and articles on the digital economy as related to music and beyond.
Her latest double-album, Data Lords (2020), a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, winner of two GRAMMY Awards, named Jazz Album of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and NPR, and winner of France's prestigious Grand Prix de l'Académie du Jazz, has melded her advocacy and art: Nate Chinen of NPR writes: “Now it's finally here, in the form of a magnificent double album, Data Lords. . . it parses into thematic halves, "The Digital World" and, as an antidote, "The Natural World." On the whole and in the details, it amounts to the most daring work of Schneider's career, which sets the bar imposingly high. This is music of extravagant mastery, and it comes imbued with a spirit of risk."
David Hajdu for THE NATION writes, “Beyond the dualism in its format, Data Lords is a work of holistic creativity. The music of outrage and critique in the first album has all the emotion and conceptual integrity that the music of melancholy and reverence does in the second. I can’t conceive of anyone else creating this music, unless Delius has been writing with Bowie on the other side.”