Spotlight on Ryan Miller

Trombonist Ryan Miller at Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park in Summer 2019

Originally from New Carlisle, a small town near Dayton, Ohio, trombonist Ryan Miller joins us for the 2019-20 season. Ryan went to school at Morehead State University in Eastern Kentucky before continuing at Indiana University.

Prior to this year with the ISO, Ryan was a member of the Richmond (Indiana) Symphony and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in addition to substitute work with the ISO and other orchestras, like the Virginia Symphony.

We wanted to get to know a bit more about Ryan, so we sat down with him at the beginning of the season:

How did you get started on Trombone?

My Father is a trumpet player, so I was exposed to a lot of brass sounds as a child (probably above the legal limit). I knew that I wanted to play a brass instrument, but I thought that remembering what to do with three valves would be too hard for me, so I chose an instrument with only one variable: the slide.

This was a serious miscalculation, because operating a slide is definitely harder than using valves!

Is there a specific story about your current trombone?

The trombone I currently play is a Vincent Bach trombone that was made in Elkhart, Indiana and belonged to my professor at Morehead State, Jeanie Lee. She retired shortly after I left the school and gave the horn to my wife Heather, who is also a trombonist.

Years later at Indiana University, I needed to send my trombone in for repairs and borrowed Jeanie’s old horn from Heather. It sounded so much better than the horn I had been playing on that I never went back!

Do you have a favorite piece of music right now?

This is an impossible question to answer, but I’d have to say Brahms’ Second Symphony. Brahms is my “desert island composer.” I can listen to his works over and over and each time, I  pick up on something new that I hadn’t noticed before. Nothing is out of place in the music of Brahms, and his use of the trombones in this symphony is terrific. There are so many beautiful chorales for us to play, and the end of the symphony is one of the most exciting things to play or hear!

Do you have a favorite moment that happened on stage?

Having the opportunity to play all of the original Star Wars movies was incredible. The music was so demanding technically and physically, but the payoff was enormous! It’s always fun to lend our trombone sounds to the dark side!

What do you do when you’re not playing trombone?

I’m into the typical trombone player interests: beer, grilling, espresso, comedy, and hiking!