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The American composer and bandleader Maria Schneider, who was born in 1960 in Windom, Minnesota, acquired significant experience as an assistant to such figures as Gil Evans before founding her own Maria Schneider Orchestra, with which she recorded her first album in 1994, Evanescence. Since then she has performed around the globe with this hand-picked ensemble while also working regularly with other groups. Her music combines styles and genres: she has been commissioned by such varied institutions as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, the American Dance Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet. Her CDs have garnered numerous awards, including five Grammy Awards (tellingly, spanning the two categories Jazz and Classical). Maria Schneider, who is also involved in the fields of copyright protection and digital rights, released The Thompson Fields this past spring.