Musician Maria Schneider Inspires Students through Mirza Jazz Residency
November 21, 2017
Knox College students who performed with Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider during her Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency said that collaborating with her inspired and excited them more about music.
"Working with Maria brought out a part of me that I haven't seen in a while," said Graeme Gover '19. "Lately, I haven't played much music outside the jazz band, but I want to get back into it. I want to start writing music again."
During her weeklong residency, Schneider worked with students in the Knox Jazz Ensemble to prepare for a November 9 concert at the Orpheum Theatre, which she guest-conducted and which featured some of her original compositions. She said she met some "shockingly talented students" at Knox.
Students said they enjoyed learning from her.
"To have the actual composer of the piece telling you how it's supposed to be interpreted is a really cool experience," said alto saxophone player Clare Hensley '21.
Associate Professor Nikki Malley, who is chair of Knox's Music Department, noted that the students' performances evolved as they kept rehearsing with Schneider.
"They saw how much potential they have," Malley said. "They realized that they could do things that they couldn't do before. You could see it on their faces when they saw the progress they had made since [the first rehearsal on] Monday night."
As part of the residency, Schneider also gave a presentation on "Music and the Creative Arts in a Digital Economy." The talk explored the role of the arts in today's society, as well as the issues of intellectual and creative rights. Schneider, who has spoken before Congress promoting copyright protection and legislative fairness, was one of the original participating artists in Artistshare, the first Internet crowd-funding platform for musicians.
Garret Wehking '20 said he attended the presentation because he is interested in recording and producing his own music.
"I thought that someone who's been in the industry for a long time would have some pretty important information to shed light on how you own your music, how you distribute it, how you sell it, that kind of thing."
He said he appreciated hearing Schneider's talk because the information she provided "has been historically very hard to access if you're not in the business."
Photos at top of page and below: Maria Schneider rehearses with the Knox College Jazz Ensemble.
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The Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency at Knox College is made possible by generous support from the Jerome Mirza Foundation of Bloomington, Illinois. The residency program is designed to benefit Knox students, jazz practitioners, and audiences of jazz lovers from the Galesburg and surrounding communities by bringing world-renowned jazz artists to campus for a week of intensive and collaborative jazz activities with Knox College students, culminating in a free public concert.
The Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency is part of the Knox Jazz Year, a year-round series of festivals, speakers, and performances culminating in the Rootabaga Jazz Festival during spring term. The Jazz Year aims to enrich the student body and Galesburg community with increased knowledge of the craft and spirit of jazz.
Allen Irvine '20, who plays alto saxophone and soprano saxophone in the Knox Jazz Ensemble, said the Mirza Jazz Residency is his favorite jazz event of the year.
"It's really special that we get to work with the artist for a whole week," he said.