Chorus Member Profile
Sam Stover: The Chorus Member that Almost Never Was
When Sam Stover was a little boy, he and his mother would often listen to Karl Haas’ radio show, Adventures in Good Music, learning together about composers and listening to their works. Sam went on to study piano, sing in choirs, and even play the organ, throughout grade school and into college. During his lengthy 44-year career as a United Methodist Church minister, he sang with Dayton’s United Theological Seminary Men’s Choir, the Ohio United Methodist Ministers Choir, and Toledo Symphony Choir. It’s safe to say that music has always been a major focus in Sam’s life.
Until it wasn’t.
When Sam and Dottie Stover moved their family to Cincinnati, he fell away from the choral scene to have more free time with his young children. Sam thought he could fly under the local music community’s radar, but then he met Susan Hughes.
Susan, a member of the May Festival Chorus, was his son’s elementary school music teacher. When Sam volunteered to assist in her classroom, she heard him sing and encouraged him to audition for the May Festival. His magnificent bass voice had betrayed him.
At first, Sam wasn’t interested. He didn’t want to commit the time, didn’t think he was good enough, and until then, didn’t know that May Festival singers are all community volunteers. But, he wanted his son to join the CCM Children’s Choir, so he devised a plan: If Susan would convince his son to audition for the CCM Children’s Choir in May, he would audition for the May Festival the following August.
(Secretly, Sam hoped that Susan would forget about this deal over the summer, and he wouldn’t have to audition after all, but she didn’t.)
Thirty years later, Sam is celebrating his final season with the May Festival and bidding us a fond, though bittersweet, farewell.
“These 30 years in the chorus have been transformational for me. Music makes us all better people but there have been so many moments through the years that brought healing and hope and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention building all the friendships I will cherish for years to come. I will miss my participation in the chorus immensely but look forward to sitting on the other side of the stage for a change and joining in the appreciation of a great chorus and a great tradition.”
In the future, Mr. Stover looks forward to continuing in his part time job in the Pro Shop at the Winton Woods Mill Golf Course, perhaps officiating a wedding here or there, and volunteering in his grandchildren’s classrooms. As long as he steers clear of their music teachers, he might be able to stay out of another choir.
Click here to listen to a Spotify playlist of Sam Stover’s favorite pieces from his time with the May Festival, including Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s 8th Symphony.