Welcoming Robert Stovall as our New Director of Music & Worship Arts
“The possibilities with Robert Stovall are endless — there is no end to what he can do and will do here . . .”
— Peggy Graff, Organist and Interim Director of Music & Worship Arts
Our church is alive with the sound of music and songs we have sung for years. As seasons change and new songs are sung, it takes an exceptional leader to have an ear for the music of our church. We have already gotten a glimpse into the future since Robert Stovall became our part-time Interim Director of Adult Choirs in October. Now that Robert has accepted the offer to become our full-time Director of Music & Worship Arts beginning in June, we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us here at FUMCFW.
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 are also proud grandparents to Ryder, son of Parker and Bonnie Stovall.
Organist and Interim Director of Music & Worship Arts Peggy Graff previously worked with Robert at Birdville High School. He was Head Choral Director while Peggy was Associate Director, and together they took a mixed honor choir to the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention. “We are a great team,” Peggy declares. “We just work so well together that it comes naturally.” Next, Robert served as Director of Fine Arts at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD and then, most recently, Director of Fine Arts at Country Day School.
Peggy asked Robert to come on board as interim director at FUMCFW while we went through the process of hiring a full-time director. When thinking about who we should invite to take our choir through the transition period, she says it didn’t take long for Robert to come to mind. “Robert is a very genuine person, and I think he shows that every day in his life and in his work,” Peggy explains. “He’s trustworthy, compassionate, creative, and top of the line as a professional — he’s the total package.”
Robert says his journey here has been fascinating. “I expected to come in, direct the choirs, prepare them for Sunday services, and move on,” Robert remembers. “As time passed, I realized that there was much more to this position than I first imagined. Working with the choirs, learning about the church, and talking with the staff made me realize that there is something very special here.” He says that Peggy Graff, the members of Choral Union and Adoramus, and the caring staff of the church created an atmosphere that immediately made him comfortable.
Robert believes relationships are extremely important when working in an ensemble setting. He says the relationships he sees at FUMCFW are very genuine and loving, and he enjoys being a part of that. As the church went through the process of finding a new director, Robert says he felt that if they found a great candidate, he would gladly step aside and allow those relationships to begin. However, it became very clear to him that he would have a difficult time doing that because after each Wednesday night rehearsal and Sunday service, he felt fulfilled and genuinely excited about being with the choir, leading them in song, and creating those relationships with each member. So he decided to step forward and pursue what he calls the opportunity of a lifetime. “The genuine interest in singing well in a choir program of this magnitude is enticing to any director of choral music,” Robert adds. “I am the fortunate one to have the opportunity.”
Robert describesthe very first time he heard this choir rehearse: He came to the Sanctuary to watch, listen, and learn about the ensemble that he was about to create a relationship with. “The sound that Choral Union produced in that rehearsal was extremely impressive,” he recalls. “The members seemed genuinely interested and willing to learn and work toward the optimum performance. I was excited and ready to work.” Peggy says that Robert’s passion for the process of preparing an anthem with the choir is one of his best and most exciting talents. Although the finished product matters to Robert, the process that evolves and offering analogies that strike an immediate understanding of music concepts with choir members is paramount. “And in the process choir members also have fun learning,” she adds.
Robert says he is looking forward to many years of wonderful music-making. “In that time, I want us to continue to grow and be a warm, welcoming community of singers who love to sing and give their talents to those who choose to listen,” Robert declares. “As for the staff, I look forward to having a relationship that allows us to work together for the church and the community, and create lifelong friendships. I already feel that in a way.” On the other hand, Peggy says that she is looking forward to what Robert can create as a vision for our Music Ministries, for our church — and much more. “Robert will impact people in this church even beyond the people he works with in music ministry,” she adds. “He will utilize this church as a vessel to welcome the community into our doors.”
In addition to recruitment and excellence, Peggy is confident that Robert will be creative with all elements of the fine arts, including visual and performing arts, and incorporating them into the program. In his interview, he even talked about using artwork from artists within the church to celebrate their gifts and bring joy to everyone as they worship. “The possibilities with Robert Stovall are endless.” Peggy exclaims. “There is no end to what he can do — and will do — here with the help of all who support this exciting vision.”
Here are just a few of the many things Robert would like to accomplish with our music programs: Expanding our singing membership, adding choirs, adding performances, and giving EVERYONE an avenue to sing. As a long-term goal, he envisions perhaps adding a fine arts academy in our church — and even expanding other genres of fine arts such as theater, visual arts, and instrumental music. “We have a large membership, and I am sure we have many that have experience or enjoy being involved in these genres,” Robert says. “As a result, I will work with the music staff to investigate these possibilities and determine what direction we can take to exploit the talents of our community.
The passion and experience Robert brings to the table, together with the relationships he has already started to form with our church choirs and community, open the doors to endless possibilities. As head of our Music Ministries, Robert Stovall will breathe new life into our church and give us even more delightful sounds of music to cherish for years to come.
See Senior Pastor Dr. Tim Bruster’s blog for more about this exciting news, and please join us in officially welcoming Robert Stovall to the FUMCFW Music Ministries!