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home : news : this week's news June 28, 2016

3/13/2013 8:25:00 AM
Windom native produces new 'classical' album

Windom native Maria Schneider is nothing short of excited and proud of her latest album, as much for the work that went into it as for the challenge it presented.

Known for her Grammy-winning composing in the jazz industry, Schneider has stepped outside her comfort zone and composed a classical album, Winter Morning Walks, featuring the talents of world-renowned and Grammy-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

"I just love this album. I'm really happy with it," Schneider says, almost in a giddy, schoolgirl tone of voice.

But, again, this is not a typical Maria Schneider jazz album. In fact, it's classical.

"I was a little scared of it," Schneider said in a recent phone interview from her home in New York City, talking about writing classical music for Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. "I did it only after talking about it for a long time, and (Dawn) convincing me that she really wanted me to write in the way I write and not become something else, harmonically and melodically.

"She came to hear my band all the time and she really wanted something that felt like me, so I said, 'OK, I'm going to try this.' Sometimes you just have to face your fears and take the plunge."

She took the plunge and she's glad she did.

Schneider wrote Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories for Upshaw to sing with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. It received rave reviews, including from Tom Morris, the manager of a classical festival in Ojai, Calif., who attended the concerts. After hearing their collaboration, Morris asked Schneider if she would do another classical work featuring Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, which would be attending the festival.

She agreed with the condition that she be allowed to bring a few of her jazz musicians into the composition.

"Not because I wanted to make it sound like jazz, but to bring in the element of improvisation so that each performance is a little bit different," Schneider explains. "And Dawn was really excited about that."

What came from that is Winter Morning Walks which features Upshaw's vocals, the poetry of Nebraska poet Ted Koozer, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, a few of Schneider's longtime band members and, of course, Schneider's compositions and direction.

But Schneider says the album and music is not "classical," as one would normally think of classical music.

"It's classical in a way, but it even has elements of pop music in it," she explains. "The music has elements of jazz, classical, Brazilian music, pop music, even a little flamenco music. It has all these different elements. It basically sounds like me; it sounds like a different version of me."

For much more on Schneider's new album, see the story on the Faith & Family page in the March 13 issue of the Cottonwood County Citizen on newsstands today.


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