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Eastman alum Maria Schneider wins twice at 63rd Grammy Awards


The Maria Schneider Orchestra’s provocative “Data Lords” was one of the local highlights at Sunday’s pandemic-safe 63rd Grammy Awards.

On an evening in which Beyoncé won her 28th Grammy  and Harry Styles flaunted a boa, four musicians with ties to the Eastman School of Music were honored virtually.

Maria Schneider. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Maria Schneider.
Schneider earned a master’s degree from Eastman School of Music in 1985, and now dominates the landscape of contemporary big-band jazz and classical. Her “Data Lords” was inspired by the collision of the natural organic world and our data-fueled, chaotic, and intrusive digital society, and won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. “Sputnik,” a track from that album, won for Best Instrumental Composition.

Soprano Sarah Brailey, Eastman class of 2004, is the featured soloist on the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, Ethel Smyth’s “The Prison.” Brailey was also a part of two other Grammy nominations.

The Best Classical Instrumental Solo award went to Richard O’Neill and the Albany Symphony’s performance of Christopher Theofanidis’s “Viola Concerto.” Theofanidis has a 1992 Master of Music degree from Eastman.

Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse’s “Symphony No. 5” won Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Rouse, who died at age 70 in 2019, taught at Eastman from 1981 to 2002.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be reached at