David Alan Miller stands before the Albany Symphony Orchestra Geoff Sheil
When the red carpet is rolled out in front of Los Angeles’ Staples Arena for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, at least one special guest will not be there. The allure of Tinseltown just isn’t strong enough to tear David Alan Miller away from making music.
The Grammy Award-winning conductor will hear his name announced as a nominee for the third time this Sunday, Feb. 10, but he will be in Troy conducting before his Albany Symphony Orchestra — where, Miller said, he’d rather be.
Miller was named among the list of notable nominees for Best Orchestral Performance last December. He shares this nomination with the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic for its recent recording of works by John Harbison, the late Steven Stucky and Carl Ruggles. The recording was released by NAXOS Records in June 2018 as part of its acclaimed American Classics series.
In 2014, Miller earned a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo with Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Albany Symphony. Miller received his second nomination in 2016 for Best Solo Vocal Album with Talise Trevigne and the Albany Symphony for the recording of Christopher Rouses’ Kabir Padavali.
Miller’s affable demeanor and passion for music make him a welcoming personality to various circles within the orchestral world. People within that world have long since recognized his talent. I spoke with him about the upcoming Grammys and what the Capital District has to do to ensure we keep him here.
Michael Hallisey: I imagine travel would be in your immediate future with the Grammys coming up.
David Alan Miller: Actually, it’s not in my future. At least, not to the Grammys. Because, that Sunday, Feb. 10th, I’m on stage at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall conducting a beautiful Albany Symphony concert. So, I’m sadly missing the trip to L.A. this year. They’ll have to have the Grammys without me.
I was going to ask that because I saw the schedule and wondered ‘Are you still doing that?’
No. No. I can’t be in two places and I’d much rather be making music than anything else in the world. So, even though I’m sad to miss it, I’m delighted to be able to be home conducting a beautiful concert with the Albany Symphony.
That’s great to hear because we’d love to have you here. Now that this is your third go around, is it becoming old hat for you?
It’s never old hat. It’s always a real honor. But, I have to say, the first time we were nominated we won, and that was incredible. It never even occurred to me that we would ever be nominated, let alone win. The second time we were nominated and didn’t win, and I must say that, even though my mother told me winning is not the thing, it was much less fun not to win than it was to win. So, this time the odds are very challenging because it’s a lot of really major, major orchestras I’m up against. So, I have no false hopes, I’m just honored to be considered. It’s really nice.
I noticed some of the names of the orchestras within the category in which you are nominated — I see Pittsburgh is represented. I believe San Francisco, as well.
Boston. Boston Symphony. Very big-name orchestras.
You’ve been a guest conductor for some of those symphonies, have you not?
Yeah, at various points. Sure.
So, do you have any interaction with some of these folks you are “competing” against?
No. Not really. I mean, I know some of them. I know some of the conductors. Not in particular. I’ve had various concerts with them in the past, but it’s been awhile. It’s all very friendly, especially in this category, which is a very big category in classical music. The Best Orchestral Performance is just an honor to be in that category. But, of course, I’m very sad that we had a wonderful Albany Symphony disc that was up in a number of categories, and this happens to not be with the Albany Symphony. This National Orchestra Institute, a wonderful summer training program at the University of Maryland. So, I’m delighted — it’s the first time they’ve ever been nominated. So, they’re very excited. It’s great. Young professional summer festival orchestra. So, I’m delighted to be nominated with them, but I’m a little sad not to be nominated with my own incredible home orchestra.
We are very thankful that you are here, and we do love our symphony orchestra, which leads to my next question: How do we keep you? Because, you are such a hot commodity, I imagine there are people begging to have your services.
That’s very kind of you. But, actually, Albany and the Capital Region are my home and have been for almost three decades. I have no intention of leaving anytime soon. I hope they don’t have to carry me out, but I’m feeling that we are doing really evermore exciting work together. We have a great team at the symphony, our musicians and staff members. And the orchestra has never been in better shape, from every metric, than it is now. […] I have no plans. I feel very privileged to be in such a community as the Capital Region.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.