APPLETON, WIS. — Internationally renowned jazz composer and conductor Maria Schneider will be featured in the final concert of the 2006-07 Lawrence University Jazz Series Friday, June 1 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Schneider will conduct the award-winning Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) and showcase Lawrence jazz faculty soloist Lee Tomboulian.
Tickets, at $22 and $20 for adults, $19 and $17 for senior citizens and $17 and $15 for students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.
The concert program will include LUJE performances of Schneider’s compositions “Hang Gliding” and “Three Romances,” along with two works from her forthcoming CD “Sky Blue,” which is slated for release June 14. Her recent composition “Aires de Lando” will feature Tomboulian as accordion soloist.
A native of Minnesota, Schneider settled in New York City in 1985 after studying at the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. She studied composition with jazz giant Bob Brookmeyer and became an assistant to legendary composer/arranger Gil Evans, preparing Evans’ music for the 1987 Gil Evans/Sting tour.
In 1993, she formed the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, which performed weekly at Visiones in Greenwich Village for a stretch of five years. Since then, her orchestra has performed around the world, earning 2005’s “Large Jazz Ensemble of the Year” award from the Jazz Journalists Association.
Her first three recordings — “Evanescence,” “Coming About” and “Allégresse” — all were nominated for Grammy Awards, while “Allégresse” was selected by both Time and Billboard magazines for their list of “Top Ten Recordings of 2000,” which included all genres of music.
Schneider’s “Concert in the Garden” CD, which was released only through her website, won the 2005 Grammy Award for “best jazz recording,” becoming the first CD to earn that honor through Internet-only sales. The CD also was named 2005’s “Jazz Album of the Year” in the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalist Awards. Both organizations recognized Schneider as “Composer of the Year” and “Arranger of the Year.”
“Watching Maria’s ascent to international jazz recognition has been a personal joy for me,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisational music at Lawrence, who has been a friend of Schneider’s since the early 1980s and collaborated with her in the creation of “Maria Schneider: Evanescence,” a 1995 Universal Edition text featuring her original scores. He also co-conducted a concert of Schneider works with her in New York in 2001.
“I count Maria among the finest large ensemble composers in jazz history. And she is peerless as a conductor of jazz music,” Sturm added. “Our jazz students, faculty and audience will no doubt be inspired by Maria’s artistry, warmth and sincerity.”
Schneider’s extensive list of commissions includes new works by the Danish Radio Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, Orchestre National de Jazz, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. She also received the Doris Duke award to compose a dance work for the Connecticut-based Pilobolus Dance Theatre and her orchestra at the American Dance Festival and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Tomboulian, who joined the Lawrence jazz faculty in 2005 as assistant professor of jazz improvisation, jazz small group performance and applied jazz piano, has performed with noted jazz artists Airto, Nat Adderly, Doc Cheatham, Larry Coryell, Jack DeJohnette and Bucky Pizzarelli. He is a founding member of the Brazilian and Uruguayan ensemble Circo.
Earlier this month, LUJE was named the recipient of DownBeat magazine’s 2007 “Outstanding Performance Award” in the college big band category of its annual student music awards competition. It was the second time in seven years LUJE had earned the prestigious award and the third time overall. The group was cited for the seven-track CD “Witnesses,” which featured compositions and arrangements written exclusively by Lawrence students.