Maria Thompson Corley

A true modern-day Renaissance woman, Maria Thompson Corley is an acclaimed concert and collaborative pianist, composer, poet, author, educator, voice-actor, and mother of two.

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    Born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, Dr. Maria Thompson Corley began training as a pianist at a young age, making her first public performance at the age of 8. Her pursuit of her Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees brought her to New York City to study with renowned pianist and pedagogue Gyorgy Sandor at Julliard. She leads an active performance career as a solo and collaborative artist, having given concerts 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 esteemed artists from the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra, and has performed with countertenor Darryl Taylor in a concert sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History. As a mother of an autistic son, Dr. Corley has taken an active role in music accessibility as a part of her chamber duo with cellist Sara Male, Duo Chiaroscuro, 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.

    A composer and arranger of music for both solo voice and chorus, Dr. Corley has had 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 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). She has published two novels and is an active poet, often penning the text to her own art songs. As a Black musician, she has placed an emphasis in Black music in her composition and performance, arranging many spirituals, and programming works by Black composers like Margaret Bonds, H. Leslie Adams, and Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges).

    – Catherine Moore


    Maria Thompson Corley Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

    Corley, M. (2017, October 09). Five Things I’ve Learned From My Autistic Son. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

    Related Information


    Soul and Reconciliation

    (Maria Thompson Corley, Jonathan Bailey Holland, James Lee III, Zenobia Powell Perry, Rosephanye Powell, Dave Ragland and Richard Thompson)


    View recording

    How Sweet the Sound

    (Margaret Bonds, Henry T. Burleigh, Maria Thompson Corley, Jacqueline Hairston, Moses Hogan, Hall Johnson, Thomas H. Kerr, Betty Jackson King, Robert L. Morris, Hale Smith, Spiritual and George Walker)


    Dreamer - A Portrait of Langston Hughes

    (Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Kurt Weill, Henry T. Burleigh, Robert Owens, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Howard Swanson, Jean Berger, Erik Santos and Florence Price)


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