Cleveland Orchestra percussionist turned adversity into inspiration

Posted on: March 20, 2013

In Sunday’s (3/17) Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Zachary Lewis writes, “Adversity has come to Donald Miller in abundance. So, too, though, has happiness. Despite having faced almost every manner of obstacle, the longtime Cleveland Orchestra percussionist today stands as one of the ensemble’s most grounded and broad-minded individuals. An expert bass drummer by day, Miller is by night a spiritual guide, animal rescuer, librarian, composer and painter. Along the way, he also has dabbled in law, accounting and business. And he’s as cheerful as can be. … The first challenge Miller faced was a birth defect. Born without a tibia bone in his right leg, he lost the whole area to amputation at age 2, after having already learned how to walk. Ever since, he’s worn a prosthesis. … Percussion entered his life almost by accident. Watching a television talent show, Miller noticed and was inspired by a contestant who appeared to be a glutton for punishment, a drummer who regularly took part in the game but never advanced. … Thus, when it came time in school to choose an instrument, Miller opted for percussion. Not only was it the cheapest option, requiring only drumsticks. It was also a symbol of determination. … In addition to playing bass drum, Miller also has served as staff arranger, and he still assists head librarian Robert O’Brien.”

Posted March 20, 2013