BIG NEWS for FUMCFW Music Ministries!

Tim BrusterI am thrilled to announce that Robert Stovall, who is now serving as our part-time Interim Director of Adult Choirs (Choral Union and Adoramus), has accepted our offer to become our full-time Director of Music & Worship Arts. As we have all no doubt noticed since he joined us as interim director on October 7, Robert brings to our Music Ministries not only an enthusiastic, positive, outgoing, personable presence; he is a superior choral director/conductor and musician.

On Robert’s first Sunday as interim director, I went up to the Choir Room to welcome him. As I stood for a moment to watch him directing the choir, I was struck by his enthusiasm and expressiveness, his musical ability — and I could see that his excitement is positively contagious. I knew immediately that we had found the right interim director.

Robert StovallThen, as time went on, we began to experience in our worship the beautiful music that Robert and the choirs performed together. I began hearing from the choir members their enthusiasm for Robert’s ministry, and I felt even stronger about what a good fit he was.

With John Howard’s leadership, and a capable and hardworking search committee, we were able to identify and ultimately bring to our church four strong finalists among the candidates who applied from across the nation. However, it was the wish of the search committee that Robert also complete this full process as one of the finalists. After experiencing all five of these finalists, the committee unanimously chose Robert as the finalist to whom they would make an offer.

We are so excited and thankful that Robert has accepted. He will remain in his role as part-time director until he has completed his duties at Fort Worth Country Day School in June. I invite you now to learn what a few others who have been key to this search process have to say about this important transition: 

Peggy Graff“When thinking about who we should invite to take our choir through the transition period as an interim director, it didn’t take long for Robert Stovall to come to my mind,” recalls Organist and Interim Director of Music & Worship Arts Peggy Graff. A good friend and music colleague of Peggy’s since 2003 when he served as Head Choral Director at Birdville High School (Peggy was Associate Director), Robert then served as Director of Fine Arts at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD and, most recently, Director of Fine Arts at Country Day School.
 
Peggy explains, “When he accepted my call to come to First Church and be our Interim Choir Director on a part-time basis, hardly any time passed before members of Choral Union experienced Robert’s expertise as a musician, his outstanding skills as a choral director, his professionalism, his charisma, and the genuineness of his character. He is the total package!” Peggy remembers one night at an Adoramus rehearsal when she just happened to look up from her music: “What I saw in their faces as they sang was pure JOY!” she exclaims. “The light of Christ was shining through their faces!” Peggy adds that not only are Choral Union and Adoramus enjoying their work with Robert; they are singing with good tone production, good enunciation and articulation, and good balance and blend — all while expressing the meaning of the text through their faces. “What a huge difference he has made in such a short while,” Peggy says. “And now we will get to continue working with him on a full-time basis as partners in music ministry!”
 
The search committee led by John Howard, chair, also consisted of Cathie Davis, Nancy Fisher, Paul Bodley, Marsha Waugh, Jim Catching, Dorothy Hudson, Peggy Graff, Dr. Tim Bruster, Rev. Linda McDermott, Rev. Tom McDermott, along with staff support from Sam Spofford, Manager of A/V Services, and Melinda Smoot, Director of Communications. They began working during the week of Labor Day and met at least once per week until Thanksgiving. “This committee worked very well together,” John says, “And though we took our task very seriously, we had a considerable amount of fun in the process.”
 
Listing this position in several national search venues, this committee received, evaluated, and responded to more than 58 resumes, conducted nine Skype interviews and four in-person interviews, and attended four on-site choral rehearsal auditions with Choral Union. Our own existing choirs also played a pivotal role in this search process, with representation on the search committee and dedicated participation and feedback in each of the four on-site rehearsals. “Very importantly,” John adds, “the choir played a huge role in luring Robert back into choral directing with their talent and their attitudes. I think they got his choral juices flowing!”
 
As the process unfolded, it took Robert Stovall himself by surprise. “First of all, I’m extremely honored to be a part of this incredible, outgoing church, its members, staff, and of course, the music program,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed every minute in the interim role and have grown to appreciate the dedication the choir presents in rehearsals and Sunday presentations. The choir members, along with Peggy, were a driving force in my decision along with the gracious thoughts of the search committee. I have had a wonderful 37 years in education and in that time have had many wonderful, fulfilling years of making music. Now, with where my wife and I are in our lives, and with my family situation, this incredible opportunity to be a part of a church that loves music and worships in a loving and caring manner gives us a place to work, worship, and enjoy lifelong relationships. It’s a fantastic feeling and I’m blessed to be in this place.”
 
No stranger to the Texas choral world, Robert has taught high school choral music, taking many of his choirs through the invitation process to perform at Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) conventions, and is a Past President of TMEA.
 
With 37 years devoted to the Texas Public School System, and as a Past President of the TMEA, Robert’s choirs have been awarded University Interscholastic League (UIL) sweepstakes, festival grand champions, and convention performance invitations throughout his career, including five invitations to perform at the TMEA convention.
 
In addition to decades of church and educational choral experience, including 11 years as Music Director at Meadowbrook United Methodist Church in East Fort Worth, Robert is an active adjudicator, speaker, clinician, and conductor throughout Texas and the Southwest United States. Robert’s involvement in the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Texas Music Adjudicators Association, and most recently, The Texas Music Administrators Conference, has allowed him the opportunity to promote fine arts throughout the state. Robert continues to serve as Site-Chair for several Southwest ACDA Conventions as well as recent national ACDA conventions in Los Angeles, California, and Miami, Florida.
 
Robert is a native of West Texas who graduated with both a Bachelors of Music Education and Masters of Music Education from Angelo State University. He and his wife, Cindy, have two sons, Parker, of San Angelo, Texas, and Austin, of Fort Worth, Texas. Robert and Cindy also are proud grandparents to Ryder, son of Parker and Bonnie Stovall.

I hope you will join me in welcoming Robert and Cindy to our First Church family as we look forward to all the ways in which he will take this very important aspect of our church’s ministry to new heights.

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