Crista MILLER is the Director of Music and Cathedral Organist at Houston’s Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart where she chaired the Organ Committee for Martin Pasi’s Opus 19 pipe organ. She oversees the Celebrity Organ Series and the First Friday University of Houston Series and leads a growing Cathedral music organization, with the Schola Cantorum in high demand for large-scale, festive liturgies, including those prepared for the National Catholic Education Association, the National Winter Conference of the University of St. Thomas’ St. Basil’s School of Gregorian Chant, Church Music Association of America, various Archdiocesan offices, and for Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza’s ceremonial receipt of the Pallium from Pope Benedict XVI in Rome in 2005. Dr. Miller is in additional demand as an accompanist, appearing with CANTARE Houston, Houston Masterworks Chorus, the Bay Area Chorus, St. Cecilia Chamber Choir, Houston Children’s Chorus, and various visiting university, high school, and children’s choral groups that make pilgrimages to the Co-Cathedral. Formerly choir director/organist at the Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas, her service playing as at Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY, has been broadcast live on WXXI Public Radio. As a solo performer, Dr. Miller has performed in France, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada, including featured performances at the Svendbørg International Organ Festival; the Festival de Órgano de Asturias Cajastur, and two conventions of the American Guild of Organists. An award-winning organist in international and national playing competitions (Odense, Denmark; Fort Wayne; San Antonio; the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists’ Competition in Organ Playing), she has also been featured in solo performance in fourteen states and at landmark US instruments such as Washington National Cathedral, St. Thomas Church New York City, Goshen College, and the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY.
Dr. Miller has been a featured presenter for the Eastman School of Music, the American Guild of Organists Region VII Convention (Albuquerque), the Church Music Association of America (Miami and Pittsburgh), and the University of North Texas’s inaugural Wolff Organ Conference (Denton). Research on cultural influences in the organ works of Naji Hakim has found Dr. Miller working with the composer in southern France and Paris. Publication of her work on the Middle Eastern elements in the music of Naji Hakim, and the connection to Charles Tournemire is forthcoming this year in the Church Music Association of America’s volume on Charles Tournemire and his liturgical legacy.
As a teacher, Dr. Miller has adjudicated organ competitions and served as a member of the applied music faculties at Houston Baptist University, the University of St. Thomas, and the American Festival for the Arts, teaching organ, music theory, sight-singing and ear training. A champion of new music, she has premiered several works, including Naji Hakim’s O Filii et Filiae and Equisses Persanes (North American premiere). She recently co-taught a composition course for the American Festival of the Arts, coaching budding composers on writing for the organ. Dr. Miller’s organ students have earned competition prizes from the Cameron Johnson Organ Competition at the University of Connecticut, the Oklahoma City University Organ Competition, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School Organ Competition. Her students have earned scholarships from the Eastman School of Music and the University of North Texas, and have been named Organ Scholar for the Texas Festival of the National Federation of Pueri Cantores.
Active in the American Guild of Organists, Dr. Miller has served on the 2016 National Convention Executive Committee, chairing the 2016 New Music Committee, and serving the Executive Board of the local chapter. In addition, she has been a member of the Board of Directors for CANTARE Houston.
Crista Miller earned the Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) in organ performance and literature and the Sacred Music Diploma at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, studying under Hans Davidsson. There she received the graduate award for the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI), a global organ-building project that will ultimately deliver about twenty new organs to the Rochester area. In addition, she earned the Master of Music degree from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, studying with Robert Bates, Robert Brewer, and Robert Jones. Previously, she earned the Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, where she studied organ with Gerald Frank.