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Kit Mills

Oak Harbor, WA   

Who is this guy?
My name is Kit Mills, and I’m an American composer working to create winsome music that abounds in memorable tunes, poignant harmonies, and rhythmic vitality.  Believing as I do that music making is most vital when it is centered in community, I love to build partnerships with musicians and listeners spanning the full spectrum of technical ability and experience, working together to create memorable and enjoyable performances in all kinds of venues.  Performers of all ages and skill levels have brought my music to life in summer festivals, concert halls, schools and universities, retirement centers, farmers’ markets, national parks, churches, busy intersections, and private residences across North America, Europe, and Australia. 

I’d like to thank the members of the Academy, and…
Every composer stands on the shoulders of at least a few giants.  I’m deeply indebted to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and his colleagues, as well as the late Romantics, the meticulous craftsmen of the Baroque, and a wide assortment of 20th century global music-makers.  I’ve also benefited greatly from the instruction of Dr. Howard Whitaker during my undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (IL), Dr. Kevin Walczyk during graduate studies at Western Oregon University, and additional mentorship from composers Roupen Shakarian and Ron Jones.

Drum roll, please!
The earliest thing I remember is wandering (at age 3) over to a mysterious sheet-covered mass that towered above me, and lifting the sheet to discover a sparkling drum set.  Ever since then, I’ve been enthralled by the art of percussion and, following childhood experiences playing with numerous school bands and church music teams, I’ve enjoyed performed professionally with bands in many genres (rock, blues, zydeco, jazz, Brazilian, Reggae, etc.), as well as with symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, and choirs.  I also work periodically as a studio percussionist, doing my best to bring a little drumming magic to original albums, singles, and film/television music libraries. 

Paying it forward
As a native of beautiful Whidbey Island here in Washington state, I enjoy the privilege of serving the northern Puget Sound region as an enthusiastic percussion instructor and frequent musical presenter/coach in local schools.  Since 2004, I’ve worked with more than two hundred private percussion students, and have reached several thousand additional students (and their parents and teachers) through dozens of masterclasses, percussion and composing coaching sessions, and performances at schools throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Many of my students have worked hard to grow into fine musicians, and their increasingly compelling music-making has earned them numerous solo and ensemble contest performance awards on both the regional and state levels, as well as successful auditions into the United States Army Band, the Seattle Seahawks’ Blue Thunder Drumline, the Seattle Cascades Drum Corps, California School of the Arts, Cornish College of the Arts, Western Washington University, and many more.  It’s a real joy to share a part of each student’s journey to personal and musical maturity!

Thanks for reading, and I invite you to contact me any time at www.kitmills.com.  

A Norwegian Folksong in Seven Costumes (excerpts)

A lovely, cryptic Norwegian folksong dressed up in seven strikingly different ways, scored for chamber string orchestra and given an energetic reading here by Chamber Orchestra Kremlin. I owe my knowledge of this and other obscure but eerily compelling traditional tunes to the equally fascinating and colorful Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt.

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Beyond the Desert Sands (excerpts)

This fun little piece written for a rather good community orchestra shares that mixture of seemingly exotic and sweeping melodies that infuses so many of the most memorable concert orchestral works and film scores. I’m a firm believer in establishing a friendly relationship with audiences, and I feel that the best way to start off on the right foot is to provide winsome tunes and fun changes of direction. This recording is excerpted from the piece’s concert premiere.

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Latin Vamprovisations (excerpts)

Scored for marimba soloist and percussion ensemble, Latin Vamprovisations fuses together a bunch of different influences, from jazz improv to Classical concerti, from Afro-Cuban percussion grooves to the Flamenco-flavored music of the Gipsy Kings. There’s ample room for the soloist to improvise over given chord progressions, and some of the other percussionists have opportunities to trade solos within the various groove feels. It’s a fun live piece that’s different–though always foot-tapping-inducing–in every performance.

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