Background: Canadian Conductor Tania Miller has distinguished herself as a dynamic interpreter, musician and innovator on the podium and off. She was the driving force behind new growth, innovation and quality for the Victoria Symphony, and gained a national reputation as a highly effective advocate and communicator for the arts. As curator, she distinguished herself as a visionary leader and innovator. Acknowledged for the impact and success of her tenure, she was recently bestowed with the title Music Director Emerita of the Victoria Symphony.
- Recipient of the 2017 Friends of Canadian Music award from the Canadian League of Composers
- Received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Royal Roads University in recognition of her exemplary work as a leader and for her extraordinary artistic achievements in the community.
- Recipient of the 2016 Paul Harris Award from the Rotary Foundation for distinguished musical excellence and leadership.
- Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music bestowed her with an Honorary Diploma in 2015 for her impact on music in Canada.
Review of Tania Miller’s last appearance with the RI Philharmonic, November 16, 2019
Review: Tania Miller commands R.I. Philharmonic with Shostakovich
by: Channing Gray, Special to The Journal
PROVIDENCE — Bramwell Tovey, the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s new conductor, had to skip Saturday night’s concert at Veterans Memorial Auditorium to undergo cancer treatment. But the orchestra ended up getting the next best thing: Tania Miller, a young Canadian conductor whose recent visits here have proved her to be an exciting musician and a perfect fit for the Philharmonic.
Her take on Shostakovich’s brooding Tenth Symphony, which closed out an evening of lesser-known selections, never failed to keep the big picture in view. The loneliness, the darkness of the vast opening movement, and the searing portrait of Soviet strongman Josef Stalin in the second were an emotional tsunami.
Shostakovich, who faced constant Soviet censorship, had not written a symphony since the end of World War II. But in 1953, just months after the death of Stalin, he sat down to pen the Tenth.
Miller, who stepped in for Tovey on two weeks’ notice, seemed so petite on the podium, but she took hold of the epic score and led the audience on a journey they won’t soon forget.
But the breaking news of the night was the appearance of pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, an audience favorite at the Newport Music Festival years ago. She brought with her Tchaikovsky’s rambling, episodic Second Piano Concerto, which I’ve never heard live.
Tchaikovsky actually wrote three piano concertos, but the last two have been overshadowed by the popular, and overplayed, B-Flat Minor.
There were some tender moments in the lyrical middle movement, where McDermott teamed up with concertmaster Charles Dimmick, and she brought more than a bit of glitter to the concluding section.
But try as they might, McDermott and Miller just couldn’t pull the opening movement together. It’s music in fits and starts, where every few pages the orchestra would stop and McDermott would plow through unimpressive solos cobbled together from scales and a few alternating chords.
Not inventive, imaginative music, in other words. And McDermott was unable to do much to change that with what amounted to a dutiful interpretation.
As for the obligatory encore, she tore into the Prelude from Bach’s Second English Suite, sounding quite frantic at first, but eventually relaxing and making the intricate music sing.
Miller opened the evening with another unfamiliar offering, the African American composer William Grant Still’s “In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy.’” The score, chosen as a Veterans Day tribute, is laced with harmonies that sound like spirituals and made a nice change of pace from tired Italian opera overtures.