Joe Miller is conductor of two of America’s most renowned choral ensembles: the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He is also director of choral activities at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. In addition to his responsibilities at Westminster, Dr. Miller is artistic director for choral activities for the renowned Spoleto Festival USA and director of the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir.
His 2019-2020 season with the Westminster Choir includes a concert tour of the western United States; a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music’s Bach Festival 2020; a 100th Anniversary concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio, where the Westminster Choir was founded in 1920; concerts and broadcasts at its home in Princeton; and their annual residency at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A.
Recent seasons have included concert tours in Beijing, China and Spain, as well as participation in the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona and groundbreaking performances of Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anthracite Fields at the historic Roebling WireWorks as part of Westminster’s Transforming Space project.
After viewing the Westminster Choir’s staged performance of Joby Talbot’s demanding choral masterwork Path of Miracles at the 2019 Spoleto Festival USA, D.C. Theatre Scene wrote, “Joe Miller a fearless artist. His bold leadership and trust in these young singers enabled his choristers to forego the ‘stand and deliver,’ score-bound habits of their genre and ‘walk with him’ on this special journey. Not only did the singers need to memorize their parts, no mean feat, but follow his baton’s bid from any part of the auditorium and sing in any body position. Miller constantly challenged them in the process and inspired them to work confidently, well outside their comfort zone.”
The New York Times described their 2014 Festival performance of John Adams’ El Niño as “superb” and wrote, “Meticulously prepared … the chorus was remarkable for its precision, unanimity and power.” The Wall Street Journal praised the same performance, crediting “the fine Westminster Choir and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, under the direction of Joe Miller.” The Post and Courier wrote about their performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, “This was an evening of near-flawless execution and many moments of ravishing beauty and power. It will go down as a highlight (maybe even THE highlight) of this year’s festival, and, I think, as the work with which Joe Miller established his credentials to lead an extended choral/orchestral masterwork, not just recreating Bach’s music but also putting his own interpretive stamp on the whole.”
Dr. Miller has made four recordings with the Westminster Choir. American Record Guide wrote about their newest CD, Frank Martin: Mass for Double Choir, “This is gorgeous singing…with perfect blend, intonation, diction, ensemble and musicality.” The Heart’s Reflection: Music of Daniel Elder, was hailed by Minnesota Public Radio’s Classical Notes as “simply astounding.” His debut recording with the ensemble, Flower of Beauty, received four stars from Choir & Organ magazine and earned critical praise from American Record Guide, which described the Westminster Choir as “the gold standard for academic choirs in America.”
As conductor of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Dr. Miller has collaborated with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, earning him critical praise. The New York Times wrote about Symphonic Choir’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Cleveland Orchestra, “Joe Miller’s Westminster Symphonic Choir was subtle when asked and powerful when turned loose.” Recent seasons have included performances with the Philharmoniker Berliner and Sir Simon Rattle; The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel.
Reflecting on the role that choral music plays in the nation’s cultural life, he said at a Chorus America conference, “Choral music in the United States has seen unprecedented growth in the past several decades. The influence of our past leaders is part of our fabric, but we must seize this time to create a new vision based on the foundation that has been laid before us. We must keep the traditions but be willing to change in order to build a vision for the future.”
Dr. Miller earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in choral conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and voice from the University of Tennessee.