Recent profiles in the Financial Times and VAN magazine have shone a spotlight on Cassandra Miller, exploring her recent artistic residency at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, and offering fresh insights into the composer’s creative imagination.

Leah Broad’s interview with the composer discusses her key artistic relationships and several works that featured at Aldeburgh, including La Donna, Tracery, her collaboration with Juliet Fraser, and Thanksong, performed by Quatuor Bozzini and Fraser on 17 June. Broad reflects,

When I return to the original Beethoven movement that inspired Thanksong, I do experience it differently. I hear the strings’ tuning inflections more acutely, remember the hesitation of Miller’s performers, feel the echoes of their elongated lines. As composers, the demanding Beethoven and the collaborative Miller couldn’t have a more different ethos. But Thanksong manages to bridge the gap between the two, drawing out and laying bare all of the intimacies of Beethoven’s holy song to transform it into a prayer for the 21st century.

Hugh Morris’ wide-ranging conversation with Miller in VAN explores the “transformational mimicry” integral to her compositional process, the place of collaboration in her work, and the creation of her 25-minute work for string quartet About Bach. Morris writes,

Always possessing a lyrical quality—understandable given the vocal filter her source material travels through on its transformative journey from recording to sketch to eventual performance—Miller’s music can also be calm, serene, and sometimes simply blank. Perhaps that blankness has the Rothko effect: a minimal canvas that sits there, looking back at you, until it feels like it’s prying into your soul.

Critics have celebrated recent performances of her music at Aldeburgh Festival. In the Guardian Rian Evans praised John Storgårds’ performance of La Donna with the BBC Philharmonic – broadcast here:

Miller’s propensity is for using “found” musical material and the sound of the Genovese Trallalero singing was the starting point...The initial element of the BBC Philharmonic’s brass braggadocio was arresting but…it was the languid winding down of the last minutes, like an old gramophone gradually running out of steam, whose effect was quietly captivating.

Fiona Maddocks, writing in the Observer, noted that the “delicate repetitions” in Quatuor Bozzini’s performance of Miller’s About Bach (17 June) “came as balm”.  

Looking ahead, the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Dinis Sousa open their 23/24 season with the premiere of Miller’s Swim at the Sage Gateshead on 16 September; it receives its North American premiere from Kalena Bovell and the Victoria Symphony on 5 November. In April 2024 Sean Shibe and Dunedin Consort will tour a new work by Miller for guitar and strings, which will premiere at the Barbican on 11 April before further performances at Saffron Hall, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Ghent.  

In September Ilan Volkov and Charles Curtis will return to her Duet for Cello and Orchestra with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which they premiered in 2015; the 30-minute work was acclaimed by the Guardian as one of the best works of the 21st century in 2019. EXAUDI will perform her 13-minute Guide for unaccompanied mixed voices at Kings Place as part of Thrilly Marvel Chants on 28 February, a concert programme curated by Oliver Leith on 28 February; it was amongst her pieces performed this year at Aldeburgh.