Miller's Latest Book Reviewed
in Opera News; Journal of Singing
Professor of Singing Richard Miller's Training Soprano Voices
was reviewed in the January issues of Opera News and the January/February
Journal of Singing, a National Association of Teachers of Singing
publication. The book is his most recent contribution to the field
of vocal pedagogy and is a continuation of his systematic overview
of teaching different voice types.
Richard Dale Sjoerdsma said in the Journal of Singing: "There
are writers on vocal pedagogy, then there are genuine vocal pedagogues.
Richard Miller is a peerless example of the latter . . . . He embodies
a rare combination of voice science and pedagogy, in which the former
is the servant of the latter."
Teachers and students began to ask Miller for a book for sopranos
after his last book, Training Tenor Voices, was published in
1993. "It makes sense. An overwhelming majority of singers are
female, and most teachers are themselves sopranos," explains
Miller. "However, as not all sopranos are the same, a teacher
needs to know how to approach a student whose voice is different."
To that end, he explains, the book "identifies subdivisions within
the general designation of soprano' and offers suggestions
and practical vocalises appropriate for the several types."
In January Miller conducted courses in systematic vocal technique,
with master classes for teachers and singers, in Sydney it
was his fifth annual visit in association with Australia Auditions
Unlimited. Miller also directed the third Vocal Arts Center Symposium
in Oberlin in February.
Miller was adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Gulf Coast
Region in New Orleans and gave master classes for University of New
Orleans graduate students and competitors in the Opera Guild contest.
He also lectured and gave master classes for the National Association
of Teachers of Singing in October at the University of Nebraska School
In response to questions generated during the courses and master classes
he has taught around the world, Miller has recently completed Solutions
Every time I get a new CD or a reissue featuring Pucho and the Latin
Soul Brothers, I think of pianist Neal Creque. Before 1991, the name
of that group was unfamiliar to me. Neal Creque changed that.
I first heard Neal play at Nighttown, a popular Cleveland restaurant,
in 1990. Earlier, I had interviewed for a job as jazz host and executive
producer at WCPN-FM, Cleveland Public Radio. Then, during dinner,
one of my interviewers pointed out that Neal was a "great jazz
pianist" and he lived in Cleveland.
I listened. There were musical fireworks. I saw an elegantly attired,
bald-headed gentleman who obviously loved what he was doing at the
keyboard. This man was playing as much for himself as for anyone in
the restaurant, challenging himself and making such music, you had
to listen to him. I recall going up and thanking him before leaving.
I took the job and moved from Binghamton, New York. I wanted to hear
that pianist again! I knew he was no ordinary musician. He was a consummate
practitioner of his art in all its forms.
Through my friend, vocalist Ki Aallen, I came to know Neal, his wife,
Nina, and his music. Wherever and whenever Ki and Neal performed,
I'd go to their gigs. These performances are among some of my
favorite memories of Cleveland's jazz scene. Neal always treated
his audience, no matter how large or small, to the same outstanding
As for Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers: in 1991, I nominated Neal
for an Arts Midwest Jazz Masters award. Besides learning about his
collaborations with guitarist Grant Green, percussionist Mongo Santamaria,
and one of the leading and most demanding of jazz vocalists,
Carmen McRae, I learned of his work as pianist, composer, and arranger
with Pucho's funky boogaloo-salsa-soul band. (In the liner notes
for their 2000 release Cold Shoulder, jazz columnist Paul de
Barros credits Neal as having co-written, with the late Jackie Soul,
"a lot of the best stuff" on the album.)
Besides being an incomparable composer and pianist, Neal was an inspiring
teacher who worked closely with all his students, whether at Oberlin,
privately, or in master classes.
"Neal wrote for all the student jazz ensembles," says bassist
Peter Dominguez, who came to Oberlin specifically to work with Creque.
"He wrote to each student's strength. He was a master teacher.
In the best situation you have a person who is a composer, an arranger,
and a player. Neal set the standard for all of us. He could get all
the colors out of his instrument." Evelynn Hawkins
Hawkins, music director and afternoon jazz host at WDUQ 90.5 FM in
Pittsburgh, has been known as "Dr. D.J." ever since Sir
Andre Previn wrote his eponymous jazz tune in her honor. Neal Creque,
Wendell Logan, and several Oberlin students were guests on her program
during her days at Cleveland's WCPN 90.3 FM. She traveled from
Pittsburgh to speak at Creque's memorial service.
A memorial service was held in December in Finney Chapel for Neal
Creque, teacher of jazz piano at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music
since 1988, who died December 1, 2000, following a long battle with
cancer. He was 60 years old. Pictured (l to r): Vocalist Ki Aallen,
drummer Bill Ransom, and Oberlin faculty members Peter Dominguez and
Robert Ferrazza, at the memorial.
For more about Neal Creque and his recordings, visit the jazz section
of the All Music Guide web
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