David Alan Miller is not only bicoastal in his musical activities--he's bi-generational. The 25-year-old musician has served for five years as music director of the New York Youth Symphony (the Big Apple's version of the American Youth Symphony here), while this season in Los Angeles he has been entrusted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Symphonies-for-Youth programs.
"In New York, I conduct (an ensemble of) kids for grown-ups, and in Los Angeles I conduct grown-ups for kids," Miller said with a chuckle during a conversation from his New York home. But that's not all. This week in Los Angeles, he will conduct grown-ups for grown-ups.
At the Philharmonic New Music Group program Monday at the Japan America Theatre, Miller will be on the podium for two works receiving local premieres: Steven Stucky's "Boston Fancies" and Gyorgy Kurtag's "Messages From the Late R. V. Troussova" (with soprano Susan Narucki, who sang the song cycle in Ojai last year, again serving as soloist). Chamber pieces by Berg and Frank Campo complete the agenda.
How did a young conductor manage to make the leap to such heady repertory? Miller admits that his 1985-86 stint as a conducting fellow with the Philharmonic Institute at Hollywood Bowl helped him get the attention of orchestra officials, but the key factor, he explained, was a novel aspect of his programs with his youthful New York ensemble. "We have a thing called 'First Music,' in which we commission a short piece by a young American composer each season. (Philharmonic composer-in-residence) John Harbison heard a couple of those tapes and invited me to conduct."