Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Arts & Business Conversation with Maria Schneider

Posting on behalf of Teresa Wolf, Senior at Babson College concentrating in Information Technology Management & Business Analytics. Teresa Wolf led the Q&A session for the Arts & Business Conversation with Maria Schneider hosted on March 10th at Sorenson Black Box.

Teresa Wolf (left) & Maria Schneider (right)

Have you ever met a person that you did not know was your idol until you met them? That is very much how I feel about Maria Schneider. She is not only an inspiration for students interested in musical entrepreneurship, but she is also an inspiration for myself from the role of big data on society perspective. In asking Maria about streaming music platforms, she explained her point of view as a detriment to listening to music. She explained that no one simply takes time out of their day to listen to music, and only listen to music. People in today’s society, including herself, listen to music as background noise to everything else going on in life. Working out, working, dinner parties, getting ready to go out – the context is always changing, but the role of music remains the same: as background noise to fill in the void we do not fully pay attention to. Maria believes we will eventually reach a real information overload, which she demonstrates with the blackout at the end of her composition “Data Lords.” It is a theatrical move that will continue to give me chills because it was so moving. In a world of parallel processes, Maria asks her listeners to do just that, listen. It is a point of view that shook my love-for-data-and-everything-free perspective.

Maria Schneider Orchestra in Concert (photo taken by Maggie Hall)

Therefore, the live performance of Maria Schneider’s orchestra was the perfect opportunity to solely focus on the performance, and it was a grand one. The selection of music was a great enough variety to keep everything interesting. We learned about Maria as not only a composer, but as a person. There is something beautiful about listening to live performances. There is an interaction the audience provides that keeps everything overall more interesting and fun. While I do enjoy listening to music as I walk around campus, working out on a rowing machine, and have the Vitamin String Quartet streaming while I write this reflection, I will make a conscious effort to take time and truly listen to the music I listen to. I will research music that interests me outside of a search engine’s paid recommendation.

In addition, Maria told me that her greatest accomplishment is finding complete balance between music, business, and fun, which is entirely evident in the way her orchestra performs. During the performance, her musicians were genuinely happy to be there, supporting each other, and they have a well-developed sense of community. The drummer, Clarence Penn, in particular was smiling the entire performance. His passion was so clear, and it contagiously spread to the audience. The performance captured the audience, and held us, the entire duration of the event. Donny McCaslin’s first solo in “El Viento” took us for a ride, and every audience member was fully strapped in. He danced with us and showed us how much Brazil and Maria’s travels have influenced her music. The baritone saxophone player’s pride in his bandmate was evident in the way he high fived Donny after the solo. If I were to ever be on a team of people, I want my teammates to treat me the way Maria Schneider’s orchestra treats each other. I genuinely believe it comes from their leader. Maria holds a same level of respect for her musicians that she wants from them, and it spreads to a mutual exchange throughout the community of musicians she gathered.

Maria Schneider in Concert (photo taken by Maggie Hall)

I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by Maria Schneider. I learned that music truly does have a place in many facets of our lives, some we do not even realize. She will continue to be an influence in the way I lead others, the way I will be led by others, and my attention to the role of big data in our developing worlds.