About Dr. Maria Corley

Maria Thompson Corley was born in Jamaica and 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 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. Her performances as soloist with orchestra include engagements with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gunther Schuller. She has also performed and recorded with the Philadelphia-based Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, directed by Jeri-Lynne Johnson.


She is also a composer and arranger, with pieces commissioned and/or recorded by Juventas New Music Ensemble, the Florida A&M University Concert Choir, MUSE: Cincinnati’s Womens Choir, the Tallahassee Boys Choir, Xavier University in New Orleans, California State University East Bay, tubist Daniel Rowland, countertenor Darryl Taylor and sopranos Sequina Dubose, Louise Toppin and Randye Jones. Her music has been sung by artists such as mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, who has performed at La Scala, and soprano Nadine Benjamin, who has performed at Glyndebourne.

Dr. Corley’s arrangement of “Mary Had a Baby” 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). Dr. Corley’s cycle For Terry is published by Classical Vocal Reprints. Her art song “Big Yellow Taxi” was featured on the Hampsongs Foundation website on July 4, 2020, a few weeks after she participated in a livestreamed panel discussion that included Thomas Hampson, Louise Toppin, Bill Banfield and Mark Clague. 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.

She was commissioned by Lyric Opera of the North to write The Place for the DOC’s second online anthology, Heroes, which premiered in October, 2021. Two of her spirituals have been choreographed by Katlyn Addison, a prima ballerina with Ballet West. The Canadian Art Song Project has also commissioned her to write art songs for soprano Jonelle Sills, to be premiered in 2022. She was also the co-recipient of an Opera America IDEA grant, along with librettist Diana Solomon-Glover, for The Boy from Troy, an operatic work to be completed by the end of the same year which is scheduled to premiere in Carnegie Hall in 2023.

Her first CD, Dreamer, released internationally on Naxos, contains collaborations with then-tenor Darryl Taylor. 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 recordings of selections from Valerie Capers’ Portraits in Jazz, included in Soulscapes, were featured in the HBO Family documentary, Kebreeya’s Salad Days. Her performance of Leslie Adams’s Etude in C sharp Minor is included in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. She was featured twice in the 2020 African Composers London virtual concert series, once as a solo performer and once as a pianist/writer. Her recording Soulscapes 2 (MSR Classics), fearing music by Black women from all over the diaspora was released in November, 2021. Soul Sanctuary, a disc of her arrangements of spirituals and hymns, with Maria Clark, soprano and Ismail Akbar, cello, was released by Navona Records in February, 2022


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 novels include Choices (Kensington), Letting Go (Createspace) and More Than Enough (Kindle Vella). Her poems and short stories have appeared in Chaleur, Fledgling Rag, Kaleidoscope, Midnight and Indigo, and The Write Launch.

Maria Corley is also half of Duo Chiaroscuro (with Sara Male, cello). Their 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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