The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 9, 2014

Miller bids MSO adieu

Resigns as concertmaster, retains chamber series role

Lydia Miller will say goodbye following the final concert of Mankato Symphony Orchestra's Music on the Hill chamber music series on Sunday.

Sort of.

With a move to Pittsburgh in the offing — both she and her husband are native to the eastern United States, and he has recently accepted a new job in the Steel City — Miller is resigning her post as MSO concertmaster. But, she is retaining her role as artistic director of the Music on the Hill series and will return for some performances during the 2014-15 season.

"I feel real attached to that series and real attached to the audience," said Miller, who founded Music on the Hill in 2010 to offer audiences a more intimate concert atmosphere. "Plus, I can only say so many goodbyes at one time."

Born in Maryland, Miller studied at Boston University, Freie Universitaet in Berlin and State University of New York College at Purchase. After earning her master's degree in violin performance, she moved to Minnesota in 2006 to work with her mentor and former concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, Jorja Fleezanis.

In 2007, the violinist was appointed concertmaster of the MSO and has since performed with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and as a substitute musician with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Since founding Music on the Hill in 2010, Miller said audiences have grown from 80 during the first year to more than 200 this season. 2014-15 represents the fifth anniversary of the series and in commemoration, she commissioned Chicago composer Marc Mellits to write a composition that will be premiered in May 2015.

Miller said the piece is made all the more significant because of the fact that she has dedicated it to Ken Gertjejansen, a former MSO board member who died in December 2013.

"He was very supportive of me and very supportive of the series," Miller said.

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