Obituary: Michael Miller, Writer, Editor of Hudson-Housatonic Arts and New York Arts, Dies at 73

Michael James Miller, writer and arts critic, died aged 73 on November 14th, 2021, after a long illness with cancer. He was at home in North Adams, MA, his partner Joanna Gabler and youngest son, Lucas, beside him. His last word was “Peace.”

Michael was born on January 10th, 1948, in Miami, FL, the son of Max “Ike” Miller, a restauranteur and later a successful commodities trader. His mother was Helen (née Briggs), a homemaker and devoted parent to him and his elder sister, Anne.

Vasily Petrenko and Joshua Bell in a Russo-English Program with the SF Symphony: Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, and Elgar

Hats off, ladies and Gentlemen! A conductor! And a great symphony!

Vasily Petrenko’s recent electrifying week with the San Francisco Symphony reminds the listener that Gustavo Dudamel is not the sole “conducting animal” to be found on the musical circuit these days. Esa-Pekka Salonen coined the term a while back, with the impassioned Venezuelan in mind. And indeed, Dudamel is the sort of refreshing performer who has the winds jumping to their feet like jazz musicians and bass players twirling their instruments. He is all about emotion as vitality. But physically, apart from the energy with which he beats time, his manner is unremarkable.

The fascination of Petrenko, by contrast, is his ability to reflect every quivering moment of the music somewhere on his face or body, as though he were a disembodied hologram. We joke about people who are “double-jointed.” But Vasily Petrenko might as well be quadruple-sprung and then some…this is a man who’d have no trouble tapping three heads, rubbing five tummies and signalling with numerous eyebrows at the same time!

A Singer’s Notes 28: Steven as Cordelia

I just drove past Steven’s little house. The front drapes were heavy — closed, a little open between. I thought of Cordelia, early in the play, how her mouth must have been a little open, waiting for the words to come. Sisters had eaten all the words, devoured the supply. Then I thought of the supernatural hearing Lear has at the end of the play. How in the recognition scene he sees his daughter again for the first time. Their world is washed. This second Cordelia speaks directly, tersely, with no hesitation. Even at the end when she is dead and truly silent, Lear sees the life in her. He commands others to see. He hears her too. Like Steven’s, her voice was ever soft and low. The others will not hear. Blind and deaf as we are, we side with them. Skeptical is cool. But Lear more than insists that he sees and hears. He commands others to see and hear. There is always the sense that a silent Steven is the hardest thing. Like something has eaten his words. Silence is also the fullest thing. No-one knows this better than a musician.

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