Eastman School of Music alumna Maria Schneider (MM ’85) won a Grammy Award February 10 in the Best Instrumental Composition category for her work “Cerulean Skies.”
The win is the second Grammy for the jazz composer, who won the 2005 award for Best Ensemble Album for Concert in the Garden, the first Grammy-winning recording with Internet-only sales.
“Cerulean Skies” is the centerpiece work of Schneider’s latest album, Sky Blue. The composition of that piece, as well as the album’s entire recording process, was documented on her website www.mariaschneider.com. Since its release, the album has received unanimous praise, with Downbeat magazine noting that Schneider “now has become entrenched among the ranks of America’s leading composers.”
Schneider has received numerous commissions from, among others, Metropole Orchestra, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Monterey Jazz Festival, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. She was named Composer of the Year and Arranger of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Awards and the Downbeat Critics Poll in 2005. The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, formed in 1993, performed weekly at Visions in Greenwich Village for five years and has appeared in festivals and concert halls in Europe, Brazil, and Macau.
Schneider earned Grammy nominations for her debut recording Evanescence. Her second and third recordings, Coming About and Allégresse, were also nominated for Grammys. Additionally, Allégresse was named as one of the Top Ten Recordings of 2000 by TIME and Billboard magazines.
Schneider and her group the Maria Schneider Orchestra are scheduled to perform in the Eastman Theatre on Jan. 23, 2009, in a concert co-presented by the Eastman School and and the School’s Institute for Music Leadership and the Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Also nominated for Grammys this year were The Ying Quartet, Eastman’s quartet-in-residence, in the chamber music category, and Professor of Lute Paul O’Dette in the best opera album category. The awards went to Eighth Blackbird and Philharmonia Orchestra, respectively. Eastman alumna Renée Fleming (MM ‘83) was nominated in two categories, best classical album, which was won by the Nashville Symphony, and best classical vocal performance, awarded to the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
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