INTERNATIONALLY-established as a composer, and completing her doctoral project at the University of Huddersfield, Canadian-born Cassandra Miller has now been awarded a key role at a leading specialist music college.
In September, she takes up her post as Associate Head of Composition (Undergraduate) at London’s Guildhall School of Music – the latest phase in a career that has seen her forge strong links with the University of Huddersfield, home to the internationally-renowned Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM).
One of her works is the intense piano composition titled Philip the Wanderer – an extract can be heard online – commissioned by the pianist Philip Thomas, who is Professor of Performance at the University of Huddersfield. The two met at a festival in the Czech Republic.
“He was planning a Canadian-British programme, so I wrote a piece and then came to Huddersfield to work on it with him,” said Cassandra Miller. On this visit, she met Dr Bryn Harrison, who is Reader in Composition at the University.
“When I decided to do a PhD, I didn’t look anywhere else,” she said. Supervised by Dr Harrison, her doctoral project has themes that include transcription as part of the compositional process. This is an important element in some of her works, including Philip the Wanderer, which draws on a traditional piece from Mozambique. Her string quartet, About Bach, which won the 2016 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music – Canada’s highest honour for composition – has a chaconne by J.S. Bach as source material.
Cassandra Miller began her musical life as a harpist, but switched to composition as an undergraduate at the University of Victoria in Canada. She has also studied in The Netherlands and has followed an international career as a composer, artistic director and teacher. During her University of Huddersfield doctoral studies, for which she was awarded a Jonathan Harvey Scholarship in Composition, she has taken tutorials.
Although she is now based in London, she says that her time spent in Huddersfield – where she has had performances at the famous Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival – has been “a joy”.
“CeReNeM is extraordinary,” she added. “Its people are so supportive of each other and it has been a privilege to be part of such a faculty.”