The annual award recognizes a faculty member for research or scholarly activity on issues of importance to students, college/school, university and society.
Established in fall 2005, the Hellervik Prize is made possible by a donation from Lowell Hellervik ’56. The 2020 Hellervik Prize is given in memory of Donn Mattson ’55, close friend and classmate of Hellervik.
Miller earned an up to $10,000 prize and release from one class to pursue his project Sonic Augmented Reality (SonAR). The project will build upon work Miller did in 2018 with the St. Cloud State Visualization and Simulation Lab, SonAR Study I, to create a GPS tracking function of smartphones to create unique musical experiences for audience members listening to AR delivered music on headphones while physically navigating a mapped area.
“I think it’s critically important to invest in the ongoing development of faculty at St. Cloud State and to promote scholarly activity in every discipline, from music to science. My hope is to bring national recognition of St. Cloud State faculty through this gift and inspire others to do the same,” Hellervik said.
This innovation project uses technology and creative artwork so individuals can soundwalk and experience interactive electronic music.
SonAR Study I was a single composition in 10 parts designed for the St. Cloud State University campus that sounds different based on where a listener is standing and changes as the listener walks and hears natural sounds. Participants access the composition through an app on their cellphone.
“When you’re playing this app on your phone as you move around campus, you’re going to get virtually closer to some speakers and virtually farther from others,” Miller said.
Augmented reality puts a layer of data onto the physical world a person is experiencing. That information can be a picture, it can be music, or it can be information or data.
“It immerses the participant in an alternative space,” Miller said.
Through the Hellervik Prize, Miller will take SonAR Study I and work with student software engineers to develop an app that runs on Android and IOS and can be downloaded, so he can go anywhere in the world and generate a new app with a new performance.
“We will make this into software that allows me to create a lot of new works more easily from any location in the world,” he said.
Miller has previously worked in the area of music in augmented and virtual reality.
Miller earned a previous faculty research grant to create virtual reality art generated with audio and was also commissioned to create a VR opera. His first virtual reality music piece was a collaborative project with Estonian new music creators Ensemble U:. In the project, the ensemble performs live while the audience wears VR headsets and watches a synchronized film. His second VR concert, Blue in the Distance, premiered last November on campus. The piece was filmed and produced with the assistance of student workers from the Visualization Lab.
When he’s not innovating with electroacoustic music, Miller is a composer and performs at venues throughout North America and Europe. He teaches composition, electronic music and music theory. He is a past-president of the Society for ElectroAcoustic Music in the U.S. (SEAMUS) and the director of SEAMUS Records. He holds a master’s degree from SUNY-Oneonta, a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.