"Deceptively laid back in an LA way...inventive...unconventional."
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Alexander Elliott Miller is a composer, guitarist and educator based in Southern California. His compositions have been described as “deceptively laid back in an LA way…inventive…unconventional (LA Times), and “wild…unearthly…lyrical…a voice worth listening to” (San Francisco Classical Voice).
Much of Miller's recent work has focused on his own instrument, the electric guitar, featuring it as a solo instrument with electronic accompaniment or in chamber ensembles. His largest project is TO….OBLIVION: Historic Landmarks Around Los Angeles, an album released in 2018. The work is a collection of pieces inspired by six lost landmarks in Los Angeles, each of some social or symbolic significance, scored for solo electric guitar, foley-style sound effects, live processing and video slideshow of then / now images. The album received profiles in the LAist and Long Beach Press Telegram, and a 2019 performance at Boston Court Pasadena was listed in the LA Times “8 Best Things to do this Weekend.” Presently, he is developing a new large project for electric guitar and synthesizers called Antibodypolitic. He recently completed compositions for chamber ensembles including electric guitar to perform with soprano Ariel Pisturino, the Panic Duo, and the HOCKET piano duo, for whom he wrote a trio for electric guitar and piano four hands titled "Aftermath" in 2021 as part of HOCKET's ongoing Composer/Performer Initiative . He frequently creates solo chord melody arrangements of various favorite popular and jazz songs on guitar, as a hobby and for his YouTube channel.
Miller is a member of the electric guitar - percussion duo, Miller || Phelps, alongside his colleague Benjamin Phelps. The duo has commissioned new works for guitar, percussion and electronics from composers Sarah Gibson, Hitomi Oba, Cristina and Ian Dicke, and as well as written their own original works and performed at Los Angeles' Tuesdays@Monk Space and Desert Hot Springs Classical Concerts. Miller and Phelps previously Co-Directed the What’s Next? Ensemble, a new music collective in Los Angeles called “ready for any mainstage keen enough to know what’s what,” (LA Times). The group presented an all JacobTV concert in collaboration with the composer, performed with the Long Beach Opera and Grammy nominee Vicki Ray, and ran an annual series called the Los Angeles Composers Project, which presented the music of 60 composers over a five year run.
Miller’s compositions for chamber ensembles, voice and electronics have been performed or commissioned by contemporary music ensembles including HOCKET, Panic Duo, Duo Montagnard, Juventas New Music Ensemble, Boston New Music Initiative, Earplay New Chamber Music and the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, as well as by Grammy nominated artists including Vicki Ray and Tony Arnold. His compositions have been recorded by artists including Grammy-nominee, pianist Aron Kallay, who commissioned and recorded Miller's The Blur of Time and Memory for his album, Beyond 12, Volume 2, an album of microtonal digital piano music on Microfest Records in 2021; later this year, Spanish saxophonist Alicia Camiña Ginés will release Miller's composition Chaparral, for alto sax and guitar, on her new album on Orpheus Records. Miller has received honors including a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Earplay Donald Aird Composers Award, a Definiens C3 Commission and the CAPMT Commissioned Composer Award, and in 2017, pianist Vincent Craig performed Miller's Actions & Resonances at Carnegie Hall. His composition "BGA (Breonna, George & Ahmaud)" written for HOCKET and memorializing Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, opened the ensemble's #what2020soundslike album and was performed at the Seattle Symphony's Benaroya Hall and LA's Piano Spheres series.
Miller has been particularly active in California, where his compositions have been presented on many new music series and venues including San Francisco’s Center for New Music, ODC Theatre and Hot Air Festival, and Los Angeles’ Piano Spheres, Tuesdays@Monk Space, Hear Now Festival, Synchromy, Synthlab, People Inside Electronics, Carlsbad Music Festival, Microfest, Sound & Fury Concerts, Music@Mimoda and the LA Conservancy. In 2015, the LA-based People Inside Electronics series commissioned him to write for an instrument created by London based inventor, Andrew McPherson, called the Magnetic Resonator Piano. The work, a tribute to the Back to the Future movies called 88 MPH, was subsequently performed at London’s Mile End Art Pavilion by pianist Kate Ryder, and featured in an article in Keyboard Concepts by Harvard Professor Emily Dolan.
As a teacher, Miller is on the faculty of California State University Long Beach, where he teaches all levels of music theory, composition, musicianship and Schenkerian analysis at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. During the Spring of 2017, he served as Acting Graduate Advisor. He also works at Chapman University where he initiated and developed a new Composition and Songwriting course for non-music majors, which has subsequently become a requirement for music technology minors. In 2021 he was a guest lecturer at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Composer Fellowship Program, and has given masterclasses in Composition at the Music Association of California Community Colleges as well as many of the California Community Colleges and been a frequent adjudicator for guitar and composition contests run by organizations such as CAPMT, MTNA and CSULA’s Gohar & Ovanes Adriassian Classical Guitar Competition.
Miller holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition from the University of Southern California, a Master of Music in Composition from the Eastman School of Music, and Bachelor of Music degrees in both Composition and Guitar Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His guitar teachers include Brian Head (USC) and Nicholas Goluses (Eastman), and he studied composition further with Samuel Adler at the Bowdoin International Music Festival and and Sydney Hodkinson at the Aspen Music Festival, with summer studies in computer music at UC Berkeley's Center for New Music Audio Technology. In his free time, he enjoys basketball, bike riding, climbing, cooking, going to concerts in LA and playing guitar.
"Deceptively laid back...inventive...unconventional."
- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"Wild...unearthly...lyrical...a voice worth listening to."
- Jerry Kuderna, San Francisco Classical Voice
"...illustrates the evocative power and emotional punch that can result when a composer goes all in..."
- Paul Muller, Sequenza21
"...a plush and tightly constructed piece that is filled with colorful imagery...shimmered like moonlight on water."
- Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review
"Beautiful...quirky...ingeniously wrought gestures, as much timbral as melodic....it's the kind of music that -- now euphonious/now jarring, now calm/now flighty -- is exciting to live in."
- Damjan Rakonjac, The Artificialist
Sequenza 21: Aron Kallay, Beyond 12, Volume 2, 2-1-21
San Francisco Classical Voice: Catching Up With HOCKET, 9-25-20
San Francisco Classical Voice: What 2020 Sounds Like, in 45-Second Bits, 7-14-20
Los Angeles Times: 8 Best Things To Do In LA, 10-24-19
LAist: 36 Awesome Events in Southern California This Weekend, 10-24-19
Long Beach Press Telegram: This guitarist wants you to hear the history of Anaheim, Long Beach and Los Angeles 11-3-18
LAist: This Electric Guitar Album Puts You Inside 6 LA-Area Landmarks That Are Long Gone, 10-17-18
New Classic LA: Track Premiere: Alexander Elliott Miller's "Zanja Madre" from To....Oblivion, 10-9-18
Los Angeles Times: Want to Hear the Real La La Land? Lend an ear to the L.A. Composers of the Hear Now Festival, 5-1-17
New Classic LA: Synchromy + HOCKET present Crusoe at LACC, 11-18-16
New Classic LA: Microtonal Music, New and Old, Captures Tuesdays@MonkSpace Listeners, 7-9-16
Sequenza 21: Microfest Concert at Monk Space, 7-6-16
New Classic LA: Review: Aron Kallay: Beyond 12: Volume II, 11-15-15
Boston Classical Review: Music of Young Composers Sparks at BNMI Wide-Ranging Program, 11-16-14
Los Angeles Times: Review: What's Next? Ensemble Deftly Explores Space, Time & Place, 8-26-13
San Francisco Classical Voice: Earplay Plays to Spellbind, 5-20-13
Historic Landmarks Around Los Angeles
solo project for electric guitar, sound effects and video
Single release, composition for violin, piano & electronics commissioned by Rafael Liebich and Alex Russell
BGA (Breonna, George & Ahmaud)
Composition for piano, 4-hands, as part of HOCKET's #what2020soundslike project
ARON KALLAY: Beyond 12, Volume 2
The Blur of Time and Memory
Composition for microtonal digital piano,
commissioned by and featured on Grammy nominee
Aron Kallay's "Beyond 12, Volume 2."
DUO MONTAGNARD: Radiance
Composition for alto sax and classical guitar
featured on the Duo Montagnard's album "Radiance."