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Senior Spotlight: Orion Miller spins his own tune

Courtesy Orion Miller

By Chiara Moretti     4/9/24 11:44pm

Orion Miller began playing classical instruments before most toddlers refine their motor skills. Now a bass performance major at the Shepherd School of Music, Miller’s passion for music began during his childhood in New York. Both of his parents are musicians and encouraged their children to play instruments — Miller began playing the cello at age three and bass at 11. 

“It was required to play music in my household. Both me and my younger sister started at a young age,” Miller said. 

After deciding he wanted to pursue music, Miller looked for higher education institutions that combined a music curriculum with outside activities and academics. He wasn’t looking for a traditional program or a conservatory, he said. 

“I feel like I had been surrounded by the arts for so long that I wanted something a little different … I’m really glad I came [to Rice],” Miller said. 

As someone who has been playing since childhood, music sometimes feels like a routine, according to Miller. However, he said he still finds ways to creatively engage with the curriculum, such as in his freshman year. He composed a concerto in collaboration with a friend, and said he was the first person to premiere it. 

“I entered a bunch of competitions [with the concerto] … We really worked together to find something that was new and engaging,” Miller said. 

Aside from being a music student, Miller also plays rugby and works at Pub.

“Trying to juggle all those things has definitely been a challenge, but you get all the resources to do it,” Miller said.  

In addition to his academics and extracurriculars, Miller has formed valuable friendships within the Rice community. He met one of his closest friends, Tim Rinehart, at a music camp before coming to Rice. The two bonded over their similar passions for music. 

“I really enjoy being friends with him …  He’s a really good person to be around outside of music and [within] music,” Rinehart, a Jones College senior, said. “He has an extraordinary sense of musicality when he plays.”

Upon graduation, Miller plans to play in the San Francisco Symphony. According to Miller, he initially tried out and was cut three years ago, but recently auditioned again.

“They put me in a hotel, and I just played a week with them to see how we mesh, and they offered me a full-time position starting next year,” Miller said. 

Miller worked diligently throughout college to land such a prestigious job, according to Rinehart, who said that he admires his work ethic and confidence. 

“He worked really hard for that audition, and he pulled through,” Reinhart said. “I’ve never heard [Miller] ever have trouble with nerves … especially in performance settings.” 

Miller said he knows that moving to San Francisco and learning new pieces will be quite the adjustment. However, he is grateful for the experience and preparation he received at Rice. 

“[The professors’] advice, encouragement and mentorship has just been so invaluable,” Miller said. “I couldn't have done anything without them, and it’s so nice to be able to give back to [Shepherd].”

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