New director takes over at Kings of Herts

Richard Miller with Roger Chantrelle at the Kings of Herts practice night.

Richard Miller with Roger Chantrelle at the Kings of Herts practice night. - Credit: Archant

A prize-winning classical composer has been selected as the next chorus director of the Kings of Herts male barbershop harmony club.

Richard Miller, who takes over in January, has been awarded £1,000 to finance his studies for a new composition to be premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Music group in autumn 2017.

Said Kings’ chairman, Alan Bonham: “It’s a big ‘Well done, Richard!’ from us. The announcement came after we had selected him but it certainly underlines our view that he is a talent to be reckoned with.

“Choosing him was quite a departure because, unlike most candidates, this will be his first time in charge of a barbershop chorus, but we were impressed by his confidence, his musical expertise, his understanding of harmonic structures.”

Richard is just 22 and was chosen ahead of two short-listed older rivals. Retiring chorus director Roger Chantrelle said: “He is certainly among the youngest ever to take charge of a barbershop chorus but he has a mature presence which will serve him well.”

Roger, in two stints, served the Kings of Herts for 11 years and at its recent variety concert in Harpenden was praised on stage for his major contribution. He has been a respected figure on the national barbershop scene for 37 years, including acting as a judge at UK championships.

Richard, who lives in north London, holds other principal roles with a choir, an orchestra and musical ensemble. He has also sung a cappella barbershop harmony in a quartet and performed with friends in Liverpool, one of whom went on to found Proper Sound, a prize-winning quartet who have made BBC appearances.

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A Liverpudlian by birth, he won Liverpool Philharmonic’s second Christopher Brooks Composition Prize against opposition from composers aged 18 to 30 across the North West. Currently studying towards a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Music, he describes one of the elements of his classical composing as “lush, close harmony” - a defining characteristic of barbershop chorus singing.

He will lead the 35-strong Kings’ club into the UK championships in the spring and is looking forward to the challenge after sampling two rehearsal nights.

Richard said: “They clearly love the genre of music that they’re singing and I would like to build upon this type of repertoire and encourage new members along - particularly of the younger generation.”

Men of all ages interested in attending a practice session in Harpenden are invited to email John Lough at for information.