Composer, pianist, and organist Michael Gustav Miller (b.1968) began studying piano in 1973 with Sandra Renegar in Ida Grove, Iowa, including theory, composition, and wind instruments. At 13 he started organ lessons with Phyllis Schultz. He continued studying piano with Arne Sorensen in Sioux City, Iowa.
Early concerto appearances included Beethoven second in Sioux City, and Saint-Saëns second in Valparaiso, Indiana, as the first winner of the Lutheran Summer Music Program national academy’s concerto competitions, in 1983. He served as organist for several churches in his hometown during middle and high school, and for churches in Iowa City while in college.
Michael attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City as one of only ten full scholarship academic Presidential Scholars, studying piano with noted pedagogues John Simms and Kenneth Amada, oboe with James Lakin, and composition with Richard Hervig and William Hibbard, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1988 with degrees in piano and oboe. At the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Michael studied with many extraordinary artists, including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
“Michael's playing is extraordinarily beautiful” - John Cage
Further appearances with orchestra included works of Bach and Cage in Boston. Michael has been heard live on WGBH radio in Boston playing works of Rameau, Harbison, and Etler. He can be heard as soloist with orchestra on John Cage’s unusual Ryoanji on a CD issued by Mode Records. John Cage described Michael’s playing as “extraordinarily beautiful”. Michael received the Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory in 1991.
Michael returned to University of Iowa for further graduate work in music composition, collaborating with fellow artists while on staff of the University’s Dance and Music Departments. After working with various churches, orchestras, theatre, and ballet companies in the Midwest and New England, he settled in Chicago in 2001 to work full-time as an independent artist as a teacher, composer, and performer. He has been twice nominated for a Jeff Award for theatre music direction in Chicago. Michael taught piano lessons for many years at Access Contemporary Music in Ravenswood (Chicago). He is currently Organist/Choirmaster at Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal) in Lincoln Park (Chicago), and founder, Concert Organizer, and performer for Concerts at Unity, at Unity Lutheran Church in Edgewater (Chicago).
Recent compositions include Elegy Variations for flute, for Trevor Watkin; Enambered, for the Chicago Bass Ensemble; Insomnia for double bass, for Doug Johnson; Byzantine Fantasy, for English horn and harp, for St Simon's Episcopal Church (Arlington Heights); Heart of Tungsten, for cello and piano, for Alexa Muhly; Spinning on the Beach, for clarinet and piano, for John De La Paz and Unity Lutheran Church; and Caduceus Fantasy, for violin and cello, for the International Museum of Surgical Science.