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Russell Roderic Miller

We will celebrate the life of Russell Roderic Miller on

Saturday, October 28th, 2023 at 11:00 AM

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Roderic Miller, 63, passed away suddenly at home in Bowling Green, OH on Tuesday July 11th.  Born May 12, 1960, to Jerry (Starr) Miller and Curtis Miller of San Marino, CA, Russell has a twin sister Rhonda (Stone) of Colchester, England and younger brother Eric of Pasadena, CA.  A native of San Marino, CA, Russell was an extraordinarily gifted child. He excelled in many areas in San Marino’s Valentine, Huntington, and high schools – history, math, literature, language, and music. He could have pursued any of these subjects with equal success but ultimately chose music, integrating all his interests into one. He began piano lessons at the age of five with Edith Knox, herself a concert pianist and teacher who studied with Alexander Siloti (student of Tchaikovsky and Liszt) at Julliard. Russell was also a fine clarinetist in the HS marching band, bassoonist, and swim team manager. His professional debut, at the age of 17, was performing Schumann’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor with the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra.

After HS, Russell was accepted to the University of Southern California as a bassoonist but later switched emphasis to piano, his first love. He subsequently studied solo and collaborative piano and opera coaching there and at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the University of Michigan. It was while at U of M pursuing his Doctorate that he met his husband, Todd Graber, a fellow musician, and began their thirty-year journey together. Professor of Vocal Coaching and Repertoire at Eastman since 1995, Dr. Miller retired in 2022 and held faculty positions at Oberlin College Conservatory and The Cleveland Institute of Music.

As a professional pianist Russell performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and on concert tours to Korea, Hong Kong, Alaska, and the former Soviet Union. He has performed in recital with Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, Bobby White, Julia Broxholm, Todd Graber, Jan Opalach, Robert Swensen, Anthony Dean Griffey, Susan Shafer, and Kathleen Roland. For twelve years, he was the musical director for the vocal quartet “SATB” and served as pianist and harpsichordist for the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee for Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Verdi’s Aïda. Professional recordings include songs of Weill, Gershwin, Lori Laitman and Mohammed Fairouz, and viola works of Hindemith and Loeffler with Donald McInnes. He regularly played also for training workshops for young orchestral conductors in Chicago and various European countries. He was honored to be invited as a guest presenter at the 2016 International Collaborative Piano Symposium in Taiwan. He was a guest teacher at numerous schools in the US, most recently the University of Kansas and the University of Texas--Austin. In the summers, he was a staff pianist and faculty member at the Music Academy of the West, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and the Vancouver International Song Institute. His primary teachers were Edith Knox, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, Brooks Smith, Alberta Maisiello, Martin Katz, Louis Nagel, and Graham Johnson.

Russell was a devoted teacher, mentor and colleague giving much of himself to others. Since his passing, hundreds of students have come forward with stories of his helpfulness, thoughtfulness, support, and encouragement. A devoted husband, son, uncle, cousin, and brother, he was unconditionally loved by his family who will miss him deeply. He loved cooking, gardening, reading, doing difficult crossword puzzles, bicycling and was a shameless punster. A lifelong Christian, Russell was regularly involved in various parishes through service and by sharing his musical gifts and was a member of the Church of our Saviour (San Gabriel, CA) when growing up. He is survived by his husband, Todd Graber of Bowling Green; sister Rhonda (Richard) Stone; brother Eric (Leslie) Miller; Nieces and nephews Zoe Miller, Grace Miller, and William Russell Stone.

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