When Tania Miller arrived in Victoria 14 years ago as music director for the Victoria Symphony, she wanted people to wonder how a 33-year-old could be so excited about classical music.
She didn’t want a night at the symphony to be a conservative experience meant for traditional audiences. Her vision was to show the orchestra’s ability to thrill and excite people of all ages.
“The principal thing that was very important to me was to introduce ways to make music relevant and to do that I really believed in making contemporary music, music of our time, music of our culture a focal point,” said Miller. “We’ve tried to be diverse over the years…I feel like the relationship of music to people is a very special one.”
Despite her love for the Victoria Symphony and its faithful audience, Miller has decided the 2016/17 season will be her last. It’s a decision she admits wasn’t easy, but she feels the time is right to move forward onto other opportunities.
Miller can’t say where she’s headed yet, but hopes the community will continue to embrace the symphony like it has for the last 75 years.
“This community has such a degree of awareness and connection to the arts and they are very privileged to have such an extraordinary orchestra in their midst,” said Miller. “I feel like I’ve invested in something that’s really precious and very important to the culture of Victoria. I only hope that it continues to be supported and loved.”
In order to mark her final season, Miller is bringing in beloved works and guest artists such as pianists Lorraine Min, Krzysztf Jablonski and Sara Davis Buechner, as well as a final collaboration with concertmaster Terence Tam as soloist.
Other prominent guests include Rocket Man Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, former Victoria Symphony Splash 2006 Young soloist Timothy Chooi and 2012 Honens winner Pavel Kolesnikov. Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Fifth, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Sibelius Symphony No. 2 are some of the musical highlights lined up for the season.
This year also marks the symphony’s 75th anniversary, and in order to mark the milestone, the orchestra is currently in eastern Canada on their first Canadian tour, making stops in Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver before returning to Victoria to perform with the opera.
The orchestra is a mixture of nervousness and excitement as they share their work with Canadians, said Miller, who’s also buzzing with excitement about the tour.
When asked about other highlights during the last 14 years, Miller said there are too many to choose from. One of her biggest passions, however, has been exploring new venues, new styles of music and bringing together iconic aspects of the community.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling of knowing that you’ve done something great. To do something meaningful in a community is what I always wanted to do in Victoria,” said Miller.
“We’ve had times when we felt even in our dress rehearsals that we were challenged with how the concert would go and the orchestra would create the most magical experience. The orchestra always plays with their full capacity in concerts and I can always count on them to go further than any of us had imagined.”
Miller’s last performance with the Victoria Symphony is in May 2017. New candidates will be announced in August 2016. For more information on upcoming performances visit victoriasymphony.ca.