Maria Schneider (photo: Briene Lermitte)

Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic

Maria Schneider and the WDR Big Band

The American Maria Schneider is a pioneer of orchestral jazz. Since the early 1990s, the American band leader and composer has cultivated an unmistakably sophisticated, expressive and profound sound. According to Maria Schneider, she sees her music as an expression of her passion for life. But her new, Grammy-winning project Data Lords, which she performs with the WDR Big Band, was born out of a feeling of rage: anger at the power of big data corporations whose digital world robs people of their real connection to nature and other people.

WDR Big Band

Maria Schneider composition, arrangement and direction

Data Lords

Curated by Siggi Loch

Dates and Tickets


Maria Schneider

Much of jazz was rethought and redefined in the early 1990s. At the forefront of the revolutionaries of the big band genre was Maria Schneider. Raised on a farm in southwestern Minnesota, the daughter of a jazz pianist, she received piano lessons from the age of five. After three rapidly completed music degrees, she came to New York, only 25 years old, where she just as quickly followed in the footsteps of big band veterans Bob Brookmeyer and Mel Lewis. She became assistant to Gil Evans, with whom she wrote the music for the film The Colour of Money, among others, as well as for the Gil Evans/Sting tour in 1987. On this basis, she founded her own 18-piece orchestra in 1992, whose Monday performances at the New York club Visiones quickly became legendary.

From the beginning, Schneider wrote programme music in the best sense of the word, drawing inspiration for her compositions from literature, poetry, art or even ornithology, i.e. the study of birds. The best example is her penultimate Grammy-winning studio album The Thompson Fields: memories of her childhood on the prairies of Minnesota, various impressions of nature and the poems of Ted Kooser have given her melodies of radiant beauty, which she entrusts to her band with highly emotional, almost film-musical clarity and yet compositionally extremely complex. Schneider has won a total of seven Grammys so far, three alone for the CD predecessor Winter Morning Walks with soprano Dawn Upshaw and two orchestras from the classical field.

The European premiere of her new project Data Lords can now be experienced at Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic. An equally sophisticated musical mind game, already declared Schneider's opus magnum by critics, which she has arranged for the WDR Big Band – exactly 30 years after their first collaboration.

Maria Schneider (photo: Briene Lermitte)