Goodbye, Dixie, Goodbye

The Masters Say Bon Voyage to Justin Miller

JD Ahmanson, Aug 19, 2010

“A young man shows up, the last year of high school or so, kind of a shy guy, stands over in the baritone section and we know that he’s John Miller’s son. But lately, John Miller is known as Justin’s dad.”

Those words by President Bill Rosica aptly describe Justin’s rise to prominence not only in the Barbershop Harmony Society, but also in the choral world.

Justin joined the Masters of Harmony shortly after the beginning of the new millennium. He competed with us and won gold in Portland in 2002 as a member of the front row. His background in musical theatre quickly became evident and he was selected to be the featured performer in “Into The Fire,” the concluding number of our swan song set in Montreal in 2003. Justin’s comedic timing was impeccable also, as his shtick with Pat Claypool in one of our Christmas shows never failed to get a laugh. Justin could hoof it, too. When the Masters performed the “Singing In The Rain” medley, Justin danced to the famous Gene Kelly tune, performed by Sean Devine.

And of course, Justin could sing. A veritable vocal chameleon, he sang several parts in various featured quartets over the years with the MOH. He medaled twice in the collegiate quartet contest and qualified to go to District this year in the quartet, Tenacious Q (which, unfortunately for the Far Western District audience in Bakersfield, he will not be able to do.) Most recently, Justin soloed with the Masters in “Together, Wherever We Go,” which highlighted his position as the primary presentation coordinator.

Justin’s considerable musical and performance talents steered him toward a career in music education and choral conducting. While still a student at Chapman University, he became assistant director of the Masters of Harmony and director of The Westminster Chorus. Within a year’s time, Justin directed Westminster to two titles -- Choir of the World 2009 and Barbershop Harmony Society International Chorus Champion 2010. And just weeks ago, he was certified as a Music judge. With such accomplishments under his belt, Justin will certainly make a huge difference to the choral program at his former high school.

Those of us who were part of the run to gold in Portland will never forget our contest package, the very popular “Here Comes The Showboat” and our too-soon-retired ballad, “Song Of The South”. In order to inspire us to sing the ballad with emotion, we were encouraged to “find our Dixie,” that place or person or thing that we held dear to our hearts. John Miller shared with us that his “Dixie” was singing in the Masters with his son, Justin. [Younger brother Jon-Michael Miller had not yet joined the chorus.] For a while thereafter, Justin was sometimes jokingly called “Dixie.” But after all these years, for everything he has done for the Masters of Harmony and The Westminster Chorus, Justin Patrick Miller has definitely earned his place as a “Dixie” to us all. Godspeed, brother!

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