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George Hubbard Miller (1934-1982) was a remarkable composer and person whose music I was first introduced to in 2013, while at the Eastman School of Music. When my teacher Carol Webber introduced me to Hub’s music, my world stopped on a dime. I had never heard melodies or verses quite like his, which were both homespun and nuanced; which simultaneously made me laugh and cry. Inspired by Miller's songs, I have since become a champion of his music. I am working with the Miller family to publish Hub’s songs in keys for high, medium and low voice; I have produced and performed in a multimedia recital about his life and work, and I have performed his songs throughout the country. I have watched Hub’s songs capture audiences over and over, and it is my great joy to share his music with you. Come hear what the Hubbub is all about, and join the Hub Club!
2013: THE JOURNEY BEGINS
In 2013, during my first year of study at the Eastman School of Music, I was introduced to Hub’s music through a CD, housed at the Sibley Music Library, of my teacher Carol Webber. Eager to hear my teacher’s voice, I listened to all sixty tracks on the two-disc set in one afternoon. Of all sixty selections, however, there were four that truly did stop my world on a dime with their earnest, beautiful melodies and poetry unlike any I had ever heard. They were songs of George Hubbard Miller.
2014: RESEARCHING HUB'S LIFE & WORLD
In 2014, I applied for and was accepted to Eastman’s Musical Arts Degree (MUA) program, a program designed for undergraduate students who wish to complete a masters-level research project, earning a double major in addition to a performance degree. Alongside my degree in vocal performance, the Musical Arts Degree at Eastman allowed me to build a research curriculum and carry out a final project around Miller’s life and work. I studied the history of American song, delved into American poetry, and created an independent study to research the overlapping history of America’s musical communities and queer communities, as Hub was part of both. My degree would culminate in an hour-long multimedia concert called The Hub Miller Experience, which aims to introduce audiences to Miller and his songs.
2016-17: HUB GOES TO CARNEGIE HALL
In summer of 2016, I traveled to Los Angeles to participate in SongFest with a goal of sharing some of Hub’s songs with audiences on the West Coast. While there, I had the wonderful opportunity to share one of Hub’s songs in a masterclass with baritone Thomas Hampson. It just so happened that American composer Jake Heggie was in the audience of this masterclass, and he was deeply touched by my performance of Hub’s Spinning Song. After the class, he approached me and asked if he could have permission to arrange the Spinning Song for a performance by The Dallas City Street Choir with soloist Frederica von Stade at Carnegie Hall. I contacted the Miller family and obtained their permission. Through Heggie’s arrangement, Hub had his Carnegie Hall debut in 2017.
2017: MEET THE MILLERS
In the summer of 2017, thanks to a generous grant from Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership, I had the opportunity to fly to Oregon and meet the Miller family. I spent ten days with the Millers, traveling through Oregon and Washington; I met singers who had worked with Hub and premiere his songs; I gave concerts, conducted interviews, and gathered more primary sources than I could have dreamed of in preparation for my Hub Miller Experience, to be produced in 2017 and performed in 2018. My gratitude to the Miller family for their warm welcome and willingness to share with me endures to this day, as we continue to collaborate on new projects which aim to share Hub’s music with wider audiences.
2018: THE HUB MILLER EXPERIENCE
After returning from my trip to meet the Millers, I worked tirelessly through the fall semester of 2017 to produce The Hub Miller Experience, a multimedia recital which aimed to introduce audiences to Hub, allowing them to “get to know” him through photos, interviews with his family and friends, readings from his essays and journals, and, of course, his songs. The concert premiered live at the Eastman School of Music on February 18, 2018. (In an unbelievable twist of fate, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, who had performed as a soloist in Hub’s Spinning Song at Carnegie Hall, was in Rochester on the day of the recital and was able to attend!) Members of Miller’s family were in attendance, and others watched from around the country as the concert streamed.
2020: THE HUB MILLER EXPERIENCE GOES VITRUAL
In November 2020, The Hub Miller Experience was presented as a two-part virtual concert series through Downtown Music at Grace in White Plains, New York. Interested in watching the virtual Hub Miller Experience? You can find parts one and two here:
FLOWERS OF SUMMER
By Hub Miller
Hailey McAvoy , mezzo-soprano
Bethany Pietroniro, piano