About Dr. Maria Corley
Jamaican-born pianist Maria Thompson Corley was raised in Canada. She has appeared on radio, television, and/or concert stages in Canada, the United States, Central America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Europe, both as a solo and collaborative artist, including performances in Budapest at the Liszt Academy, and in Carnegie Recital Hall, Aaron Davis Hall and Alice Tully Hall, all in New York City.
She has collaborated with such artists as Metropolitan Opera soprano Priscilla Baskerville, Juno Award-winning clarinetist James Campbell, Grammy-winning clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati, Grammy-nominated baritone Randall Scarlata, and members of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras. Her performances as soloist with orchestra include engagements with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gunther Schuller. She has also performed with the Philadelphia-based Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, directed by Jeri-Lynne Johnson.
Her first CD, Dreamer, released internationally on Naxos, contains collaborations with tenor Darryl Taylor. Her subsequent discs, on Albany, include a recording of the first twelve of African American composer Leslie Adams’s etudes for solo piano (seven of which she world-premiered) and Soulscapes, consisting of music for solo piano by African American women. Maria Corley’s recording of “Troubled Water” by Margaret Bonds, included in Soulscapes, was featured in the HBO Family documentary, Kabreeya’s Salad Day. Her performance of Leslie Adams’s Etude in C sharp Minor is featured in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.
A former full-time professor at Florida A&M University, Dr. Corley’s undergraduate work was completed at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she studied with Alexandra Munn, a pupil of Irwin Freundlich. Maria Corley received both master’s and doctorate degrees in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where she was a student of renowned Hungarian pianist, Gyorgy Sandor. Maria Corley was the only pianist admitted into Juilliard’s doctoral program for the period of two years. She was also chosen to represent her alma mater in a tour of Central America, where she gave performances and master classes.
Aside from being an accomplished pianist, Maria Corley is a voice actor who has done spots for Santander, University of Pennsylvania, Unisys, Suntrust and others, an award-winning poet, and an author. She has contributed to Broad Street Review, an online arts magazine, and blogged for Huffington Post. Her first novel, Choices, was published by Kensington, and her current release, Letting Go, was published by Createspace. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Chaleur, Fledgling Rag, Kaleidoscope, Midnight and Indigo, and The Write Launch.
She is also a composer and arranger of music for both solo voice and chorus, with pieces commissioned and/or recorded by the Florida A&M University Concert Choir, MUSE: Cincinnati’s Womens Choir, the Tallahassee Boys Choir, California State University East Bay, countertenor Darryl Taylor and sopranos Louise Toppin and Randye Jones. Her choral music is published by Walton Music Corporation. Her song cycle Grasping Water has been added to the curricula of courses about art song at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Jackdaws Music Education Trust in the U.K., and University of California (Irvine). Her cycle For Terry is published by Classical Vocal Reprints. Her arrangement of “Mary Had a Baby” for women’s voices is published by Walton.
She served as a panelist for the Hampsong Foundation’s “The Art of Democracy” series, along with Thomas Hampson, Louise Toppin, Mark Clague and Bill Banfield. Her debut mini-opera, The Sky Where You Are, commissioned by An Opera Theatre in 2020, is part of the Decameron Opera Coalition’s award-winning online production, Tales From a Safe Distance. The entire series was added to the Library of Congress in 2021.
Maria Corley leads an active and busy concert life. Her appearances include a collaboration with countertenor Darryl Taylor in a concert sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and a solo recital at the Epidaurus Festival in Cavtat, Croatia. Maria Corley is also half of Duo Chiaroscuro (Sara Male, cello), whose endeavors include “Silence Optional” concerts for people on the autism spectrum, or others who can’t attend classical concerts because of difficulties with remaining absolutely still.
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