June 27, 2009

The Last Stand symphony

A conversation with Grammy-winning musician Bill Miller

By Vincent SchillingBill Miller, a northern Wisconsin Mohican, is a Grammy award-winning musician, performer, songwriter and painter. In his career he has produced more than a dozen popular albums and most recently has conducted performances with Wisconsin’s La Crosse Symphony Orchestra entitled “The Last Stand” to commemorate Custer’s Battle of the Little Bighorn of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77.

ICT: Why focus on Little Big Horn?

Miller: I have been going out to that area with my grandfather since I was about 9 years old--we used to go and camp out every summer to Yellowstone River. He would take me to the battlefield and I have been studying it since that time. I always wanted to give my own artistic version of it from a Native point of view, different tribal point of view and an artist’s point of view.

When I was given the opportunity to do this when I was commissioned by the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, I jumped on it. When I took it to Israel, it was a whole other trip. One of the conductors was doing an artist in residency from Israel and he heard about this and asked if I could come to Israel with the orchestra for two weeks. I stayed in Tel Aviv.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Symphony with Sea Chanties and Lewis and Clark Symphony and Documentary.

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