Q. You have devoted a lifetime to studying and sharing this wonderful music. How has the reception by audiences changed over time? Any insights for new audience members who aren’t familiar with early music?
A. I've never really categorised polyphony as 'early music', at least we never had the option of authenticity as the instrumentalists had. We simply don't know what singers sounded like in the past, and never will. This gives us all the freedom just to sit back and enjoy the music for what it is. And under that heading I believe it can change people's lives. You don't have to be religious, or understand how the music is constructed (or speak Latin), but there is such beauty and integrity in it, and in the sound it generates, that I can only advise new-comers to take down all the barriers, and let it in. This is the sort of music that can inspire a spiritual reaction, not the sort that requires you to be religious in order to enjoy it.
Q. You and the ensemble have also commissioned new works from living composers. Are there any composers that are still on your “wish list” for the future?
A. One of the recent additions to our original formula of singing only Renaissance music, has been singing contemporary music which has a similar message. We started with John Tavener, but it was Arvo Pärt who really showed the way. Unfortunately I realised this too late to commission him - he said he couldn't hear it any more. Next up was Nico Muhly, an association which you furthered when you commissioned Rough Notes in 2017, which we have now sung countless times all over the world. This will form part of a disc, to be recorded in January, of an hour's worth of music written entirely by Nico for us. And in the last few years we have been approached by many young composers who like the idea of writing for a group which has honed its skills on Renaissance music, and want to join in. We actually sing more and more of this, to the point where I sometimes have to remind myself what it is we really do. But it is always a pleasure to work with composers who are alive, and can give advice.
Q. Any memorable moments from the 20 years of New York City concerts with us?
A. I'm happy to say that the most memorable aspect of giving concerts for you has been the complete reliability of the arrangements, and the complete freedom to programme what I want to programme. This will be our 75th concert in New York since we started in 1988 - not all of them for MIller, but most of them have been. Both this reliability and this freedom might sound like givens for any reputable concert organisation, but in fact they are quite rare. You have formed a backbone to our touring in the U.S., as well as to our choice of repertoire (my choice of repertoire) for a very long time, and I can't thank you enough. We also love singing in St Mary's. The only downside has been the chaos which is Times Square just before Christmas, and the extreme difficulty of getting to a hostelry any time soon after a concert. But that is another story.
Q. Are you about to retire?
A. No. The job of spreading this music far and wide is only half done. Anyway we have Plans, including a 75-minute documentary about the power of the human voice, and tours in all directions, including China and Japan next year. And there are Renaissance composers still waiting to be discovered. Think of all that Lassus no-one knows, not to mention Ludwig Daser. There is a great deal more to do.