Jan 16 2018

On Tuesday 30 January, our Royal Holloway Choir and Chamber Orchestra will be performing in concert with the London Mozart Players at St John's Smith Square in London.

We caught up with Rebecca Miller, Director of Orchestras to find out what this level of performance means to herself and the Royal Holloway Chamber Orchestra.

1.     Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you worked at Royal Holloway?

I am originally from California, but have lived in the UK since 1999. I am a professional conductor and I guest conduct professional orchestras around the world, and I'm also Principal Conductor of the Bishop’s Stortford Sinfonia, Associate Conductor with the Southbank Sinfonia, and conductor at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music. I’m just beginning my fourth year at Royal Holloway.

2.     What does your role as Director of Orchestras entail?

I direct both the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras at Royal Holloway, which means I choose the music, audition the personnel, and conduct the rehearsals and performances. I also direct the orchestral scholarship programme, organise side by side and outreach projects for our students, and run the Music + Plus Programme, which aims to connect music with other departments through interdisciplinary projects and research. 

3.     Could you tell us a bit more about the concert with the London Mozart Players at St John’s Smith Square?

The concert will be a side by side collaboration with the London Mozart Players (LMP) and will feature both our Chamber Orchestra and our renowned Choir of Royal Holloway. The concert will present Vaughan Williams’ enchantingly beautiful ‘A Serenade to Music’, a new commission by Joanna Marsh for the occasion, and finish with Beethoven’s iconic and powerful Symphony no. 5. 

4.     What does this scale of performance mean to yourself and the Orchestra?

Both the collaboration with the LMP, the great repertoire, and the high profile venue make this an incredibly exciting event for our students. The opportunity to rehearse and perform side by side with such wonderful professional musicians is amazing, and helps our students raise their game and massively increase their confidence.

5.     What do you enjoy the most about being part of the Royal Holloway Orchestra?

I love seeing the students work hard and achieve things they thought previously impossible. I love being part of the gigantic orchestral machine and teaching the students how to listen more intensely and communicate more effectively with each other. I also love seeing our students work behind the scenes at concert management, gaining experience in an area they may not have considered previously, and one which could open up significant possibilities for after University. 

6.     Outside of work do you have any interesting hobbies or interests?

I love hiking, skiing, baking, and curling up with a great book. But I also make a pretty good taxi driver for my two busy children!

7.     What does an average working week look like to you?

There’s no such thing in the music world! Every week is different for me, and I am quite thankful for it!  But when I’m not guest conducting elsewhere, you can mostly find me at Royal Holloway on Wednesdays and Fridays, at the RAM on Saturdays, and the rest of the time either at my desk or at the piano studying music. 

8.     You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself...

Royal Holloway has helped me develop a great and deep love for teaching, a passion for music’s relevance to today’s world and advocating for its causes, and a commitment to improving the gender balance in music programming and participation.