We had a chance to catch up with 2023-2025 Concert Artist Kaitlin Miller. In the interview, she talks about her competition prep routine, career aspirations, and exciting upcoming projects.
How did you prepare for the National Competition this year? What did you learn in the process? What was helpful? What was challenging?
Preparing for the National Competition this year was a tremendous journey. I learned a lot about myself in terms of endurance and finding balance in my life. The majority of my preparation revolved around doing an intense amount of practice performances. These performances were crucial for making me feel comfortable and confident on the day of the competition. They also taught me how to swiftly adapt to different atmospheres and audiences. It wasn’t always easy to adjust, as my mindset and physical state might fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. Learning to overcome this was certainly a challenge which helped me grow immensely over the course of my preparation.
Another main factor that impacted my preparation process was the support of my family, friends and my incredible teacher, JoAnn Turovsky. They encouraged me and lent me their attentive ears to my countless performances and run throughs. Their insightful feedback enabled me to explore the pieces in new ways and improve in areas where I was weak. I am incredibly blessed and lucky to be a part of such a supportive community. As I reflect on this journey, I am so grateful for all of the challenges I encountered and am so thankful for the people in my life who made it possible for me to succeed in this competition.
What has been your experience with competitions in the past?
My relationship with competitions has always been a stressful yet rewarding expereince. The first harp competition I competed in was for the Intermediate II Division of the 2017 AHS conference in St. Olaf College, MN. I distinctly remember feeling petrified on stage. I was so frazzled that I even forgot to bring my tuning key on stage and had to dash back to grab it. I remember my heart sinking when the results were posted and my name was at the bottom.
Competitions have not come naturally to me and have been a mixture of success and disappointment. Each setback has been a stepping stone that has taught me important lessons in terms of preparation and mindset when getting ready for a competition. It was not until during the pandemic when I was one of the winners for the 2020 Anne Adams Awards that I had validation for the work and dedication I had put in. Through my experiences with these past competitions, I’ve come to learn that the value of competing is not just about winning, it’s about pushing yourself and expanding your limitations.
Do you have any chapter concerts/workshops planned in the coming year?
While some of my travels are still in the process of being confirmed, a few performances that are on the horizon are in Minnesota, Connecticut, Texas, west New York, and Florida in the coming year. I have never traveled to the east coast, so I am thrilled to have this opportunity. Visiting unfamiliar locations and making new friendships will certainly be the highlight of my next two years.
How do you expect your experience as Concert Artist will help you grow as a musician?
Playing in so many new halls and performing on various harps will be a big, yet exciting change for me. Many young harpists get acclimated to their own instruments and the halls of their university or conservatory and don’t often get opportunities like this to tour in so many places. The challenges of adapting swiftly to different settings and unfamiliar harps are ones that will undoubtedly enhance my versatility and help me grow to be an even more confident performer.
Furthermore, I'm thrilled by the opportunity to be giving masterclasses. While I have done a significant amount of teaching, I have never had to do so publicly. The public aspect of teaching masterclasses adds a layer of excitement and challenge that I am eager to undertake. I am also ecstatic for the chance to work with the next generation of harpists. I distinctly remember when Abigail Kent was the AHS Concert Artist and gave a masterclass at my undergraduate program at the University of North Texas. It was so impactful to see a young professional expertly share her knowledge and experiences. I am honored and thrilled to carry the torch and inspire the next young professionals.
What are your career aspirations?
I have always had a deep appreciation for the open-endedness that is characteristic of having a music career. In an ideal world, I envision myself in many different musical settings. I have a deep love for chamber and orchestral music and want to perform both frequently throughout my career. I also am passionate about teaching and enabling the next generation of harpists to have viable career paths. Another defining goal for me is to foster the growth of the harp's repertoire. Collaborating with composers and premiering new works is a personal mission that echoes my dedication to pushing artistic boundaries.
One of my most important career aspirations is to make the harp more accessible to under-served communities. Many communities do not have easy access to the harp. To remedy this issue, I wish to start a non-profit organization to help these communities. This would involve applying for grants that facilitate harp education and engagement in disadvantaged areas, such as those near downtown Los Angeles. By creating pathways for people to experience the harp, whether through listening or learning, I hope to bridge gaps and inspire a new and diverse generation of harpists.
Any fun/cool projects coming up that you'd like to plug?
Yes, absolutely! One of the highlights from attending the 2023 AHS Summer Institute in Los Angeles was getting to meet the incredible harpist and composer Ari Schwartz. He is in the process of composing a harp concerto which I, amongst several other harpists, will be premiering hopefully sometime next year.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I am so honored to have this role representing the AHS as their concert artist and am beyond excited to meet more harpists in the next two years. If your chapter is interested in hosting me, please reach out because I would love to perform in your area.
Last Modified: Aug 24th, 2023