Lisa's Biography

Lisa A. Miles is a musician and writer based in Pittsburgh, Pa. She received a B.A. in English from Youngstown State University, with an Applied Music minor and teaching certifications in Ohio and PA.  Since even before college, Lisa has been uniquely blending her interest and expertise in the arts and humanities, music and writing.  As a classical and electric violinist she has composed, performed and produced solo and collaborative music and cross-disciplinary pieces (including work with everyone from choreographers to Jungian therapists to post-punk bands).  She has three published books, and has been counseling in self development and mental health since university years.

Lisa returned to her main interest in 2015– her original music—fully separately detailed on the corresponding pages within the website here.  Other older work pre-2015, or more current but outside of her main  creative work in music, are mentioned within this Bio.


Lisa began playing professionally, classically, while still in high school.  She continues to be a long-contracted player with numerous regional symphonies, including the Youngstown, Westmoreland and Butler Symphonies, as well as having played major avant-garde works with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

In 2015, Lisa was commissioned for the feature catalog essay for The Society for Contemporary Crafts‘ Fall exhibition “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art.”  As well, 2013 - 2015 brought opportunities for Lisa to more fully merge her creative work with some consulting.  She was involved with employee engagement and training.  

She became a contributing writer for, articles features.  Lisa began to post and publish more regularly independently, too, at that point in professional development, nonprofit coaching and mental health, “engaging individuals around ‘sense of self.'”  Lisa consulted on career and work/life transition, as well as counsels families of those affected by mental illness.

Lisa was a 2014 featured Speaker/Program Leader for the  the University of Pgh’s Katz School of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, as well as to present for the 3rd time in 9 years at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) PA’s state conference in Harrisburg, Fall 2013.

All of Lisa’s work has been featured on KDKA-TV‘s “Pgh. Today Live,” the PA Cable Channel, and she has had extensive interviews on various East Coast radio shows.  Lisa spoke April 2012 for the English Dept. at her Alma Mater, Youngstown State University, who sponsored an evening music performance as well.  

She gave the Keynote Address at the Pa. Assn. of Rehab. Facilities’ Annual Conference 2009 in State College, PA on Creativity, Personal Power and the ‘Nature of Help’ for those physically and mentally disabled.  Lisa has twice facilitated, in clinical application, Creative Therapy/Professional Development workshops at the Defense & Veterans Brain Injury Center in Johnstown, PA., as well as presented twice for the Natl. Alliance. for Mental Illness in Harrisburg.

Lisa had in mind to write (and still may)  “Creative Folly:  The Illusory Support of Artists by American Arts Organizations & Funders” (Abstract of which has been already posted), but has been delayed due to the track back to her original music taking precedence in 2015 .  The latter work is one Lisa has been contemplating ever since “This Fantastic Struggle,” made more relevant with recent professional developments in her work life and the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and one she feels of great  import.  She has written on and published extensively online, with postings by WORK Magazine, the David & Goliath project and others.

She had an extensive two-year consulting contract with Talent Curve Solutions (out of Pittsboro, NC), coaching CWA (Communications Workers of America) Union members on all areas of Personal & Professional Development (something she has done professionally since the late ’80s with work at Chatham College).   There, Lisa conducted on-site and online counseling, workshops and presentations, as well as did assessments related to personality and career transition interests.

Lisa presented June 2010 at the annual conference of The Historical Society (Boston-based) in Washington, D.C. on “Stimulating Communities Via Their History,” based on her second book.   She has been an ongoing adjunct lecturer for the University of Pittsburgh in a Library Science/ History class.  Lisa was an invited speaker Spring of 2010 at the Pennsylvania Hospital/University of Pennsylvania’s History of Women’s Health Conference in Philadelphia, and was also for the second time an invited panelist for Seton Hill University’s Women in Art panel Fall 2009.

As an independent scholar, Lisa published her second book in 2007– “Resurrecting Allegheny City: The Land, Structures & People of Pittsburgh’s North Side.” It was sponsored by a substantial grant from the PA Historical & Museum Commission and the Buhl Foundation. Selling out after less than four weeks, and consistently selling thereafter, it is now a regional Best-Seller in fifth Printing. 

Lisa continued to support this book through ’09 with discussions and educational programming at state historical societies and various community organizations. Included were a series of five in Butler County for which she received a PA Humanities Council grant, and a series of workshops funded by the Buhl Foundation for at-risk youth, looking at the intersections of history and current-day civic engagement. The latter had a major community component– a culminating Showcase at renowned telescope maker John Brashear’s old house and factory in Lisa’s neighborhood.  Lisa has independently pushed for the historic designation and usage of the Brashear structures; success with that has come, October 2012.

Her 460-page biography/cultural essay “This Fantastic Struggle: The Life and Art of Esther Phillips” was first published at the end of 2002. She received grants for a portion of this work from the Pittsburgh Foundation and PA Council on the Arts. The book’s success in the Western Pennsylvania region was supported through extensive speaking engagements at artist and historical organizations, and a variety of other venues. 

In 2009, she has begun re-releasing the work nationally and is being featured via radio interviews on the East Coast in the Spring & Summer, as well as having an offshoot article published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In ’97, Lisa also had prose and poetry published in an anthology– “Unsilenced: The Spirit of Women.”

Both of Lisa’s books were spotlighted Dec. 2008 in an hour-long TV interview on the PA Cable Channel’s “PA Books” program, and she was awarded April ’09 the William Rimmel Award, from the Allegheny City Society, for her Northside community contributions.  

Lisa has been awarded grants for music from Meet The Composer, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and one of the first PA Arts & Humanities Initiative grants for performances of a cross-disciplinary collaborative piece that she directed and produced. Entitled Presence, it incorporates glass art, slide projection, movement, her music, and collaboration with the Pittsburgh Jung Society and Duquesne University psychology department, and is about the search for authentic sense of self.

She has conducted Artist Residencies and Creative Workshops for The Ellis School, Pgh Public Schools, Professional Development workshops for teachers for the Beaver Valley and Allegheny Intermediate Units, among many others over the years.  As a Teaching Artist, Lisa was involved with many Ready for Life/Heinz Endowments Early Literacy grants. She was a resident artist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Reggio Emilia early childhood program, and has taught extensively independently, and through various art centers–holding music creativity workshops that incorporate a cross-disciplinary arts approach. She performed at First Night Pittsburgh for several years, and also there presented young instrumentalists that she was commissioned to work with on improvisation & composition.

Often engaged as a speaker on her books, and creativity in general, she delivered the Keynote at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Faculty Professional Development Spring ’08, discussing the ‘Creative Process & Education.’ As well, she performed original music and gave a major presentation on Creativity & Mental Illness at NAMI’s state mental health conference in Harrisburg, PA, 2003 and Women & Art at Youngstown (OH) State University’s Women Center that same year.

Lisa had a re-commission for Folie a Deux, a composition with stand-up bass, for live performance in early 2006 (Choreographer: Doug Bentz; Originally Commissioned by Point Park College ’99). In 2003-4, she curated a posthumous show of Pittsburgh painter Ray Geiger’s work, and organized a show of work by artists with mental illness, coordinating with area art therapists.

In 2001, she performed live for a sculptural-movement work by Cheryl Cappezzuti & Laurie Tarter, Beneath The Light.  Lisa accompanied at Pittsburgh’s Dance Alloy for over seven years, and she has played improvisational workshops with choreographers Mark Taylor and (through the Pittsburgh Dance Council) Jose Bustamante, David Parsons and HT Chen.

Lisa’s music caught the attention of Anne LeBaron, internationally-recognized avant-garde harpist/composer, and the two collaborated twice in ’99–at the Millvale Industrial Theatre and as part of the University of Pittsburgh‘s Inside the Edge program.  Lisa’s performance within the Pittsburgh independent art and music scene early on had mutual collaboration with cellist Erin Snyder, including music for national performance artist Animal X at Chatham College’s Eddy Theatre. In the mid-90s Miles & Snyder jointly scored a stage adaptation (Laurel Highlands Regional Theatre) of the silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, garnering excellent reviews.

Now I See Myself/The Statue of Mirrors was a ’97 collaboration between Lisa and dancer Laura Brungard. Lisa composed the music for and was a physical presence in this performance piece, commissioned by the Pittsburgh Dance Council’s Choreographer’s Continuum and premiered at the Byham Theatre. The work was transformed with video and sculpture by Brett Day and performed again at Carnegie Mellon University’s Hewlett Gallery. A ’95 collaboration with Brungard had Lisa writing music for the performance film Bowl Dance, which has been spotlighted at a Boston video festival, an Argentine film festival and a Toronto Moving Pictures Festival.

All music, text, graphics, images and video on this web site are the copyright-protected property of Lisa A. Miles.  All rights reserved, all material. Copyrighted material can not be duplicated without consent.

Any inquiries on Lisa's previous or current work are welcome: