In recent years, Alexander Miller–familiar to Cabrillo audiences as a long-time oboist with the Festival Orchestra–has increasingly turned his time and attention to composing. He has written many large orchestral works including Fireworks, performed in Carnegie Hall for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 75th anniversary; Let Freedom Ring, which has been narrated by James Earl Jones, Danny Glover and former president Bill Clinton; Encaustic, a clarinet concerto depicting wax painting; and his cello concerto Madame Bovary, inspired by Flaubert’s impossible dreamer.
Miller’s music has been hailed as “stunning” (American Harp Society) “engaging and energetic” (Modesto Bee), and anything from “magnificent,” “haunting” and “imaginative” to “intricate” and “sly and whimsical” (Grand Rapids Press). About Scherzo Crypto, a senior critic at the San Antonio Express-News wrote that his “vibrant, propulsive” music “recalled in some ways the best mid-20th century American symphonists.” Most of his commissions and premieres have originated from his home orchestra in Grand Rapids where the local press calls him “Assistant Principal Oboist by title, Composer-in-Residence by default.”
Miller was born in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1968 and lived a richly varied childhood in Mexico, Australia and Venezuela before returning to Michigan for high school. He holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in oboe performance from The Juilliard School.
In addition to his duties with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Miller is oboist, conductor and composer with Ensemble Montage, a Grand Rapids-based chamber group dedicated to performing the myriad challenging works of the past century. He also plays with the Wünderwind Quintet and travels to elementary schools to teach children about building music.
Shortly after the 2009 Cabrillo Festival, Miller received the diagnosis of a rare recurring brain tumor that forced him to undergo two brain surgeries followed by a long rehabilitation. Working his way back to a life of performing and composing is his proudest accomplishment, and he blogs about his experiences as a patient regularly. He is married to Cabrillo violist Mary Jane Miller, and his other interests include mushroom hunting, puzzles, aviation, and wine.
Miller debuts as composer-in-residence with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra performing his Scherzo Crypto on Friday, August 12, during Courage & Connection.