Next month Justin Miller leaves the Westminster Chorus he founded, to begin his new job as Staples choral director.
He’s going out with a bang.
This past weekend in Philadelphia, Westminster defended its International Barbershop Convention championship. Nearly 30 choruses from North America and the UK competed, but in the end it was a 2-barbershop battle: Westminster versus the mighty, 11-time champs, Vocal Majority from Dallas.
Vocal Majority was 137 men strong — most of them highly experienced in both barbershopping and competing. Westminster was young — Miller created a Southern California powerhouse with just 67 singers (average age: mid-20s).
Vocal Majority sang 4th. The Texans earned the best score in their 30-year history: 2913 points out of a possible 3000, an almost unfathomable 97.1 average per judge per song. Any other year, they’d have run away with the trophy.
Westminster sang 23rd — deep in the competition. Dressed in black vested suits, with crisp white shirts, bold gold ties and handkerchiefs, they looked ready for the challenge.
They mesmerized the crowd with their 1st ballad, “It Only Takes a Moment.” Their 2nd tune — a very contemporary version of the barbershop standard “Mardi Gras March” — featured dancing, flipping, flags, beads, and of course fine singing.
With 2932 points — a 97.7 average — Westminster retained the title. And they did it with the highest score ever recorded for an international chorus competition.
Miller made barbershop history, directing the only chorus ever to win both the Choir of the World and International Barbershop Chorus competitions in the same year.
The Candlelight Concert may never be the same.