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Reno conductor candidate brings flair to the podium
Oct 15, 2008 | 1072 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo/Bruce Bennett - Rebecca Miller, a candidate for the conductor’s job with the Reno Philharmonic, conducts a benefit concert with the Houston Symphony.
Courtesy photo/Bruce Bennett - Rebecca Miller, a candidate for the conductor’s job with the Reno Philharmonic, conducts a benefit concert with the Houston Symphony.
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On Rebecca Miller’s wedding day, she and her husband shared their special song, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The only twist is that the groom was playing the piano with an orchestra comprised of wedding party members with the bride as the conductor.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” Miller said with a laugh, remembering that she persevered through the number, despite an uncooperative wedding dress with a halter neck that threatened to untie and fall off.

Wedding dress or not, the California native is among the five candidates for the position of new conductor of the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. Each of the candidates will conduct a performance leading up to the final concert on March 29 when the new conductor will be announced.

Miller has been non-stop in her pursuit of a long-time dream — music. Having played the violin and piano early in life, Miller recalls her musician mother pointing out that she had a knack for organizing classmates and bandmates for musical numbers.

“She got the idea rolling when I was 16,” Miller said. “And since the first time I conducted an assembled group in college (at Oberlin) I didn’t look back.”

If chosen for the job, Miller would be the first female to conduct the Reno Philharmonic in its 40-year history. She has been conducting all around the country, earning international acclaim most recently in her current post as the conductor of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Miller also recently completed a stay as the American Conducting Fellow of The Houston Symphony.

Other ventures have taken her to guest conducting at The Bard Festival in New York and with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, to name a few, in a whirlwind of style that she likes to call “a good mix of repertoire.”

“Of course, there are the classics, which have survived this amount of years for a reason,” Miller said. “But I also like to explore the music of today, because there’s a lot of music that’s being written today that’s really exciting stuff.”

Indicative of her eclectic style, Sunday’s and Tuesday’s performances are set to showcase composer Pierre Jalbert, which she describes as “really inventive with driving percussion and feet-tapping dance rhythms,” the “beautiful, lyric concerto” from Alexander Glazunov and finally a classical number: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.

Known for her engaging podium manner and energetic programming style, Miller said she hopes to be able to get to know the members of the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and gauge a feeling for where she would like to take the ensemble.

“This is very much a part of their lives (Reno Philharmonic),” Miller said. “I don’t want to make it something they’re not. I need to know where they want to go and where the community wants it to go, it’s very much of a partnership.”

Miller said she plans to look further into Reno composers and hopes to feature music native to Nevada.

Among her musical influences, Miller claims New York Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein as one of her strongest.

“He was the eptiome of the great conductor,” Miller said. “He didn’t care what people thought of him. His music came from within.”

Accordingly, Miller sets her personal standards for a great conductor very high.

“A great conductor is someone who knows what they want, is not afraid to ask for it and knows how to ask for it,” Miller said. “And getting people to play their absolute best, while staying faithful to the score.”

Sunday’s performance begins at 4 p.m at the Pioneer Theater in Reno and Tuesday’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $27, with available student and senior discounts.

For more infomation visit the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra Web site at www.renophilharmonic.com.
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