“Maria Schneider is a national treasure.” NPR

“The Maria Schneider Orchestra: Led by Ms. Schneider, a composer and orchestrator of penetrating insight, this group has an ambitiously realized new album – “The Thompson Fields,” its first release in eight years – that underscores its stature as the pre-eminent large ensemble of our time.” THE NEW YORK TIMES

In discussing her upcoming major release, DATA LORDS, Maria offers the following compelling statement:

I am absolutely thrilled to embark on our recording project, Data Lords.

In revisiting my past recordings, it’s easy for me to see how my music has always reflected the world around me. But these days, I feel my life greatly impacted by two very polarized worlds: the digital world, and the organic world. While one world clamors desperately for our constant attention, the other really doesn’t need any of us at all. Amidst the noise and the clamoring, it now requires great effort for us to take real breaks from the digital world so that we can fully access the organic world that sustains us. Feeling both of these opposite worlds represented in my recent music, I have decided to make this a two-album release reflecting these two polar extremes.

In the digital world, data lords, who are in a race to amass the entire world’s information, hypnotize us with conveniences, endless information at our fingertips, limitless entertainment, “curated” content, and endless other enticements. While many of those things offer us wonderful tools that enhance our lives and societies in mind-bending ways, a vast number of the enticements numb our minds and lure us into submissiveness. And almost without fail, the enticements, tools and conveniences delivered to us by these data lords, force us into a Faustian bargain of bartering our personal privacy and individuality for these often fleeting benefits. With the additional consequence of less and less face-to-face contact and no real accountability, humans’ internal compasses that measure empathy, along with their sense of self and purpose, are often hijacked. Fueled by silicon chips, rare earth metals, energy-hungry server farms, this digital world often feels right out of a science fiction novel.

In the natural world, magic is revealed if we intentionally divert our attention away from the virtual world long enough to embrace silence. Not long ago, the natural world was our only world. With a brain much freer of clutter, our minds could coast and daydream – a state of mind that produced many of our world’s greatest ideas. This space also left our senses keenly alert. Our eyes and ears were truly hungry for absorbing new artistic creations. And while far less music was instantly available literally at our fingertips, I think most of us remember longingly how intentional and deep our listening was. Many more people reveled in nature, and the myriad of mysteries one would encounter there, ignited questions and a search for meaning and purpose. A vacuum of space in our lives left humans reaching out to others for discourse and real connection. In this organic, analog world, we feel rooted to the earth as unique beings. Fueled by sunlight and oxygen, along with 117 other elements, this mind-blowingly complex and bewildering world, inversely, offers us a centering simplicity as well.

One could say these two worlds represent: digital/analog, virtual/real, inorganic/organic, yin/yang, or a loss-of-self/recovery-of-self. All I know is that I’m searching for sonic beauty in all of it, as well as searching for my own sense of balance between these two opposing worlds.

Welcome to the Data Lords Project. I hope you’ll enjoy being a part of it and will revel in the music and our collective discourse and discoveries as well.

We plan on creating a stunning package with artwork made especially for this project by Aaron Horkey, and package design by Cheri Dorr, who designed The Thompson Fields. We will also take the utmost care with materials and printing. The artistry of these two people is at the highest level. Music, visual art, introspection, and inspiration – I hope to fill your senses with delight and more.


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.’ With that recording, Schneider began to develop her personal way of writing for her 17-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 85 groups from over 30 countries spanning Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, Asia and North America.

Schneider’s music blurs the lines between genres, and as a result, her long list of commissioners have become quite varied, stretching from the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Monterey Jazz Festival, The American Dance Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Kronos Quartet, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Ojai Music Festival, to collaborating with David Bowie. She is among a small few to have received GRAMMYS in both jazz and classical categories.

Schneider and her orchestra have a distinguished recording career with ten GRAMMY nominations and three 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. In 2012, her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, awarded Schneider an honorary doctorate and in 2014, ASCAP awarded her their esteemed Concert Music Award.

Schneider has become a strong voice for music advocacy and in 2014 she testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property about digital rights. She has also appeared on CNN, as well as quoted in numerous publications for her views on Spotify, Pandora, digital rights and music piracy. She and her orchestra recently collaborated with David Bowie on his new single called, Sue (Or In A Season of Crime), and in June, 2015, she and her orchestra released their new album, The Thompson Fields. Both endeavors earned Maria 2016 Grammy Awards.