FW Symphony hires executive director Anna James Miller

Anna James Miller is the new executive director of the Federal Way Symphony. - Photo by Terry Loss
Anna James Miller is the new executive director of the Federal Way Symphony.
— image credit: Photo by Terry Loss

The Federal Way Symphony has hired Anna James Miller as its next executive director.

Miller, 30, replaces David Orace Kelly, who served the Symphony for one season. With a background in arts administration and fundraising, Miller is excited to bring new energy into the 33-year-old organization.

For starters, she wants to increase the Symphony's presence in the community and connect people with music. In that regard, you can call her the Pied Piper of Federal Way, she said.

"I feel like music exists all around us and we take it for granted," she said, noting her goals for engaging more youth in the community. While the Symphony offers free tickets to students ages 18 and under, Miller wants to build on that strategy to encourage more youth to attend concerts.

"Classical music is the foundation of all other music," she said. "We want to be a presence in kids' lives."

Recent outreach efforts include bringing musical performances to Federal Way retirement homes. Technology is another way Miller hopes to grow the Symphony's audience. Today's arts organizations rely more on electronic box offices and buying tickets with an iPhone, for example.

"New energy is what's needed," she said. "I'm very energetic, and that's a good thing."

The fine arts runs in the family for Miller, whose father is professional cellist and three-time Grammy winner Eugene Friesen. Born in Connecticut, Miller recently spent four years in Leavenworth, Wash., as managing director for Icicle Arts.

She holds a bachelor's degree in arts administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a certificate in professional fundraising from University of Washington instructor Susan Howlett. Her administration experience includes such organizations as Seattle Opera, Spectrum Dance Theatre, Northwest Chamber Orchestra and Andrew T. Miller Studios.

Performing Arts and Conference Center

As a new arrival in town, Miller said she was surprised at the controversy surrounding a proposed Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) slated for the city center. The proposed 700-seat PACC is currently in the design phase. No timelines or construction dates have been announced for the project, which is expected to cost nearly $32 million.

Supporters say the PACC will be a cultural and economic centerpiece in the city's downtown revitalization efforts. Miller supports the project because of its potential to help the city's arts scene "kick it up a notch."

"I remain really excited about the project. It will bring the arts scene to a whole new level and make Federal Way an arts destination," she said. "I think that Federal Way is ready. … The community will find ways to use that space."

Upcoming concerts

Here are a few upcoming concerts sponsored by the Federal Way Symphony.

• Oct. 6: "Back to the Classics" with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 and other works featuring Mark Salman. Show starts at 2 p.m.

• Dec. 8: "Holiday Time," with music ranging from "Harry Potter" to "Swan Lake" to "It's a Wonderful Life." Featuring the Federal Way Symphony Singers. Show starts at 2 p.m.

• Jan. 26: "Cool Classics," featuring the Federal Way Symphony Swing Band. Show starts at 2 p.m.

• Feb. 9: "Classically Modern," with music from Satie, Shostakovich and Vivaldi. Show starts at 2 p.m.

• March 9: "First Chair Performances," featuring all-star performances from the very best players in the Federal Way Symphony. Show starts at 2 p.m.

• April 6: "Out with a Bang," featuring Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique"), Mozart and more.

In addition, the Symphony will host a Hawaiian-themed fundraiser Oct. 19 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. Tickets are $55. To learn more, visit or email

About the Federal Way Symphony

Founded in Burien in 1960 as the Highline Symphony, the orchestra moved to Federal Way in 1985. The orchestra performed as the Federal Way Philharmonic for 14 years until 1999, when it adopted the present name.

The Federal Way Symphony features paid professional musicians and a volunteer board of directors. The Symphony holds programs in Federal Way schools, including the summer music camp, and is known for its holiday concerts.

Under the direction of A. Brian Davenport, the Symphony performs at St Luke's Church in Federal Way.


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