December 19, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland, Ore. … How Beethoven revolutionized the music of his time will be explored by guest conductor David Alan Miller as he leads the Oregon Symphony in the second Front Row Center concert appropriately titled “Beethoven the Revolutionary” featuring pianist Susan DeWitt Smith on Friday, Jan. 30 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. This concert also marks the beginning of the Symphony’s month-long Beethoven Festival, which continues through March 7. The Front Row Center series is sponsored by Bridgeport BrewPub and Southwest Airlines.
Miller, formerly the Asscociate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is now the Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra in New York. He is known for his interpretations and recordings of American music but also is known as a Beethoven specialist. “Beethoven is arguably the most revolutionary and innovative composer,” Miller explains. “I hope this concert will be a fun and lively journey into the world of Beethoven’s music.”
Miller and the orchestra will spend the first half of the concert exploring Beethoven’s “revolutionary” persona, by performing excerpts from his Fifth, Seventh and Third Symphonies to demonstrate how Beethoven’s ground-breaking compositional techniques changed both musical form and style from the prevailing Classical standards of his time, which stressed balanced phrases and smooth transitions from one key to another. The concert opens with the famous first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with its “fate knocks at the door” rhythm and continues with the final movement from the Seventh Symphony, which, according to Miller, “blew the roof off how rhythm is perceived in music.” This movement demonstrates Beethoven’s use of repeating rhythmic fragments to generate a whole work, and Miller will get the audience involved by giving them a short participatory exercise for understanding rhythmic repetitions. The concert continues with the first movement of the Third Symphony, “Eroica,” which shows how Beethoven transformed symphonic formal structures and the overall scope of symphonic music.
After intermission, Miller and the orchestra will turn their attention to the more introspective, humanistic side of Beethoven’s character, beginning with the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, “Choral,” in which the audience will be invited to sing the chorus part along with the orchestra and celebrate along with Beethoven the power and glory of the human spirit. “Beethoven’s music is so direct; he was a populist,” says Miller. “He wanted his music to speak to all of humanity, not just kings.” The concert continues with an excerpt from Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with pianist Smith, a member of Third Angle and a soloist with an active performing career, who will demonstrate Beethoven’s approach to lyricism and melody through this quiet, thoughtful work. The concert concludes with the Leonora Overture No. 3, a work that speaks to the transformative power of love.
This performance is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Tickets range in price from $14 to $50 and may be purchased at the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office (923 S.W. Washington), Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or charged by phone at 503-228-1353 or (800) 228-7343. Tickets also may be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets (503-790-ARTS) or through Ticketmaster Online, via the Symphony’s Web site at www.orsymphony.org. Service fees may apply.
David Alan Miller has established a reputation as one of the leading American conductors of his generation. Frequently in demand as a guest conductor, he has worked with most of America’s major orchestras, developing especially close relationships with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. He has also conducted the orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Baltimore, Houston and Indianapolis, as well as the New World Symphony and the New York City Ballet.
As Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 1992, Mr. Miller has proven himself a creative and compelling orchestra builder. Through exploration of unusual repertoire, educational programming, community outreach and recording initiatives, he has reaffirmed the Albany Symphony’s reputation as the nation’s leading champion of American symphonic music and one of its most innovative orchestras. Recent honors include Columbia University’s 2003 Ditson Conductor’s Award, the oldest award honoring conductors for their commitment to American music. Additionally, Mr. Miller has received the 2001 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming and, in 1999, ASCAP’s first-ever Leonard Bernstein Award for Outstanding Educational Programming.
During the 2003-04 season, Mr. Miller returns to guest conduct the Baltimore Symphony in the orchestra’s well-known “Symphony With a Twist” series. He also appears with the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Edmonton Symphony, and he returns for his fifth season to lead the Minnesota orchestra in its three-concert Casual Classics series. During the 2002-03 season, Mr. Miller appeared as guest conductor with the Indianapolis, Knoxville and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras. His schedule during the summer of 2003 includes appearances with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival, and with the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra at the Estoril Music Festival in Portugal.
Internationally, Mr. Miller made his debut with the RAI Orchestra in Turin, Italy, in the 1999-2000 season. He has also conducted major European orchestras in Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Dresden, Hanover, Halle and Mainz. He has appeared with the Adelaide Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Singapore Symphony; led the Australian Youth Orchestra on its European tour; and conducted the Asian Youth Orchestra on a major tour of the Far East that included concerts in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. He has also conducted the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
Mr. Miller is highly regarded as a champion and interpreter of American music, new and old. His extensive discography includes recordings of the works of Todd Levin with the London Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, as well as music by Michael Daugherty, Kamran Ince, and Michael Torke for London/Decca. His recordings with the Albany Symphony include discs of music by John Harbison, Roy Harris, Morton Gould, Don Gillis, George Lloyd and Peter Mennin, all on the Albany Records label. He also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in its recording of Mel Powell’s music, including “Duplicates: Concerto for Two Pianos,” winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Prior to his appointment in Albany, Mr. Miller was Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During his five-year tenure there, he conducted subscription concerts, special programs at the Hollywood Bowl, and Symphonies for Youth concerts, and he led the orchestra in premieres of numerous works. From 1982 to 1988, he was Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony, earning considerable acclaim for his work with that ensemble. A native of Los Angeles, David Alan Miller holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School. Mr. Miller lives with his wife and three children in Slingerlands, New York.
Pianist Susan DeWitt Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College and her Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Nelita True.
Her many musical accolades include a second prize in the Young Keyboard Artists’ International Competition, semi-finalist standing at the International Stravinsky Awards Competition, several performance awards from Dartmouth College and a performer’s certificate and teaching award from Eastman.
Dr. Smith has performed throughout the United States and New Zealand. An avid chamber musician, she has played at the Hot Springs Music Festival, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Nelson Music Festival and the Olympic Music Festival.
Her professional recordings include several works for Radio New Zealand. She has recorded for the Manu label and appears on a disc of works by New Zealand composers. KOCH International Classics recordings include Bloch’s Concerto Grosso #1 with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, three recordings with flutist Alexa Still, and a recording of works by Roy Harris with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble.
Dr. Smith has appeared as a soloist with the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Palomar Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and several times with the Oregon Symphony. She is a member of the Oregon-based Third Angle New Music Ensemble, and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at Reed College, Marylhurst University, and maintains an active performing schedule. She will be competing in the Raissa Tselentis International Bach Competition in June 2004, one of ten pianists chosen worldwide to participate in the competition.