UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Maria Schneider Orchestra, called a national treasure by NPR, will perform a concert featuring the world premiere of a work co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in Eisenhower Auditorium.
When Schneider and her musicians appeared at Eisenhower in 2006, they performed “The ‘Pretty’ Road,” a piece also co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts. For this performance, the musicians will perform a work funded by Penn State, the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont.
In 2016, Schneider won Grammys for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for “The Thompson Fields” and Best Arrangement, Instrumentals or Vocals, for her work with David Bowie on his single “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” from the album “Blackstar.”
Schneider’s works usually lean toward the simplicity of beauty and emotion (the nature of birds and their songs on “Sky Blue” or a sense of nostalgia for home on “The Thompson Fields”), but the Bowie collaboration introduced her to a new place in her writing.
“He might have brought my dark side out,” she told MinnPost. “Maybe my music will get incredibly dark now, because it was sort of fun.”
In total, Schneider and her orchestra have taken home five Grammys and 12 nominations. The group made history with “Concert in the Garden,” which was available only online but won a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble; and again in 2014 for “Winter Morning Walks,” one of the first releases by an American orchestra to be fan-funded.
Schneider made a name for herself in the early 1990s by collaborating with jazz musician and composer Gil Evans, with whom she helped to score the film “The Color of Money” and to create music for Sting. In 1994, she and her orchestra debuted with the studio album “Evanescence.”