Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She and her orchestra became widely known starting in 1994 when they released their first recording, Evanescence. There, Schneider began to develop her personal way of writing for what would become her 18-member collective, made up of many of the finest musicians in jazz today, tailoring her compositions to distinctly highlight the uniquely creative voices of the group. The Maria Schneider Orchestra has performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide. She herself has received numerous commissions and guest-conducting invites, working with over 90 groups in over 30 countries.
Schneider’s music blurs the lines between genres, making her long list of commissioners quite varied, stretching from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to collaborating with David Bowie. She is among a small few to have received GRAMMYS in multiple genres, have received the award in both jazz and classical categories, as well as for her work with David Bowie.
Schneider and her orchestra have a distinguished recording career with twelve GRAMMY nominations and five GRAMMY awards. Unique funding of projects has become a hallmark for Schneider through the trend-setting company, ArtistShare. Her album, Concert in the Garden (2004) 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. She’s been awarded many honors by the Jazz Journalists Association and DOWNBEAT and JAZZTIMES Critics and Readers Polls. In 2012, her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, presented Schneider with an honorary doctorate. ASCAP awarded her their esteemed Concert Music Award in 2014. And in 2019, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed on Schneider the nation's highest honor in jazz, naming her an NEA Jazz Master.
Schneider has become a strong voice for music advocacy and in 2014, testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property about digital rights. She has also appeared in CNN, participated in round-tables for the United States Copyright Office, and has been quoted in numerous publications for her views on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Google, digital rights, and music piracy.
A collaboration with her orchestra and David Bowie resulted in his single called, "Sue (Or In A Season of Crime),” and brought Schneider a 2016 GRAMMY (Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals). Schneider and her orchestra also received a 2016 GRAMMY for The Thompson Fields (Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album). Their next recording project, Data Lords, is underway (2019) through ArtistShare and is set to be released April 1, 2020.