'immensely beautiful and immensely haunting.' Alex Ross
Cassandra Miller is a Canadian composer living in London. Her notated compositions often explore transcription as a creative process, through which the expressive vocal qualities of pre-existing music are both magnified and transfigured. Other compositions sometimes take the form of collaborations and that combine automatic singing and mimicry to create vulnerable and hospitable spaces for deep listening.
Described by The Observer as ‘generous, engaging and unlike anything else’, her music has been performed by EXAUDI, Ensemble Resonanz, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Plus-Minus, Apartment House, La Nuova Musica, Continuum Contemporary Music, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Works have been presented at Wigmore Hall (London), Archipel Festival (Geneva), TIME:SPANS (New York), Music We’d Like to Hear (London), Klangspuren Schwaz, Transit Festival (Leuven), Music on Main (Vancouver), Núcleo Música Nueva de Montevideo, and the Warsaw Autumn Festival. During 2020 and 2021 she is Guest Composer at l’Auditori (Barcelona).
Premiered at the 2015 Tectonics Festival by Charles Curtis with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov, Miller’s Duet for Cello and Orchestra was hailed as one of the ‘best classical music works of the 21st century’ by The Guardian. Round, composed for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and André de Ridder, was premiered in 2016. Other large-scale pieces include A Large House for string orchestra and percussion, which was premiered at Ostrava Days in 2009 by the Janáček Philharmonic and Peter Rundel, and which has since enjoyed performances by the Oslo Philharmonic as part of Only Connect Festival, and the Zipangu Ensemble at Angelica Festival (Bologna), a performance that was later released on disc.
Miller enjoys a particularly close relationship with Quatuor Bozzini for whom she wrote several pieces including Warblework and About Bach. The latter was awarded the 2016 Jules-Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. Other prizes include one of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s 2021 Awards for Artists and a second Jules-Léger Prize for Bel Canto in 2011. Other close collaborators include the violinist Mira Benjamin (for mira, 2012), Philip Thomas (Philip the Wanderer, 2012) and Juliet Fraser, with whom Miller created the Tracery project and who features on an all-Miller disc ‘Songs about Singing’ on the all that dust label. Two portrait discs from Another Timbre have received wide acclaim, including being featured on New Yorker’s Ten Notable Recordings of 2018.
Recent works include Thanksong (2020) for Juliet Fraser and Quatuor Bozzini, Perfect Offering (2020) for Ives Ensemble, and La Donna (2021) for the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and Ruth Reinhardt. La Donna has also been performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Finnegan Downie Dear; it will receive its Canadian premiere in the 23/24 season from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Otto Tausk. I cannot love without trembling, Miller's viola concerto for Lawrence Power, premiered with the Brussels Philharmonic and Ilan Volkov in 2023, and received its UK premiere from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and John Storgårds.
Miller studied at the University of Victoria (Christopher Butterfield) and the Royal Conservatory of the Hague (Richard Ayres and Yannis Kyriakides), privately with Michael Finnissy, and holds a doctorate from the University of Huddersfield (supervisor, Bryn Harrison). From 2018 to 2020 Miller was Associate Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, leading the undergraduate programme. She has been invited as a visiting teacher and lecturer at many institutions including Stanford, Columbia, and CalArts, London’s Royal Academy of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, McGill University, the University of Manitoba, and the Orkest de Ereprijs Young Composers Meeting. From 2010 to 2013, she held the post of Artistic and General Director of Innovations en concert, Montreal.