Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
MILLS, Kenneth (George). Conductor, composer, poet, lecturer, b St. Stephen, NB. He studied piano privately with Mona Bates in Toronto, Victor Babin in Aspen, Colo, and Nadia Reisenberg in New York. After making Toronto and New York debuts in 1952 and 1962 respectively, Mills gave up his career as a pianist in 1965. Though continuing to teach and adjudicate until 1975, he devoted himself increasingly to giving lectures in Toronto and later throughout Canada, the USA, and Europe, promoting awareness of the individual’s inherent freedom as a conscious being, a philosophy possessing for Mills strong musical implications.
“The purpose of Music is to reveal to man his innate at-one-ment with a harmonic state of Being” (‘Star-Scape Singers’, CanComp, 206, Dec 1985). His conviction that every human voice can be liberated to sing contributed to his founding in 1976 a ten-voice vocal ensemble, the Star-Scape Singers.
The five men and five women, all students of Mills’ philosophy and all possessing the extraordinary range and variety of timbre which are hallmarks of what Mills terms “voices set free,” are “hailed abroad and in the USA as creators of a renaissance in choral art for their astonishing body of work that cannot be compared to anything else because it is so original – and which, touching on the instinctive, the primal, the intellectual and spiritual, leads one to a feeling of approaching cosmic awareness” (PfAC, Sept 1986).
Mills, in collaboration with choir member Chris Dedrick, composes specifically for the choir, setting texts drawn from his own published poems to polytonal, polyrhythmic music rich in overtones, high-pitched harmonies, and evocative chords, and exploiting an impressive range of innovative vocal sonority. The Fire Mass combines texts of the traditional Latin ordinary with Mills’ poetry and is considered the Star-Scape Singers’ major work. The choir premiered it in New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1986 and has performed the work in Europe; a 1988 performance of it in Roy Thomson Hall was broadcast nationally by the CBC. The Star-Scape Singers have toured and broadcast extensively in Europe including the USSR, have given frequent concerts in Toronto and New York, and have toured in Texas and Arizona.
“Kenneth Mills is a man of marvels, a merlin of music, a master of the high game of re-inventing the world. He has touched the lives of thousands of people by offering a new way of seeing, hearing, and feeling. Through his lectures, his books, his music, his drama, and many, many other aspects of his deep knowing and rich art he has offered to a complex and complicated world a simple path of principle and excellence. His practical genius shows us how to transcend the limits of our ordinary accomplishments.” (Jean Houston, PhD, author)
“Kenneth George Mills’ work uses translucent language to awaken us from the slumber of the mind into the reality of Being. If you would like to explore a new way of seeing your eternal self and your relationship to the infinite, then this book [Change Your Standpoint – Change Your World] will open some new doors for you.” (Gordon Davidson, author of Spiritual Politics)
“Some great ones give us meditations, some parables, some koans. Kenneth Mills gives us another form… These words wrinkle the mind and prevent it from its usual collection process and prison building.” (Dr. Elaine de Beauport, in the foreword to Freedom Is Found)
“The spontaneous UnfoldmentTM of Kenneth G. Mills are an extraordinary conjunction of light and sound; his spontaneous verbal outpourings are sculpted from the matrix of a Universal prospect of Life. The Newness of the Unchanging is a work that embodies the rare unification of spiritual vision and immediate verbal response. The result is not only a magnificent work of art, but also an offering to the realm of time that may emancipate from limits those who are attuned.”