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St. Stephen’s Solar

Minister of Music

Robert Train Adams is the Minister of Music at St. Stephen’s. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bob started piano lessons at age 4 1/2 but retired after several weeks. At the more mature age of 5, he resumed lessons, later also studying violin, oboe and organ.

Eventually Bob received A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in music from the University of California Berkeley, also studying composition at the conservatories in Paris and Amsterdam with Tony Aubin and Ton de Leeuw.

In 2003 Bob retired from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth after a 25-year career as a music professor and department head, having also served universities in California, Pennsylvania and Alabama.

In addition to teaching, Bob has been active in the church music ministry as organist and choir director (At the age of 13, he started his first organist position on the condition that he take organ lessons!). Bob continues to be active as a composer, with many instrumental, choral and solo pieces.

Prior to returning to St. Stephen’s (Dr. Adams had previously served as Organist 1972-1973), he was Director of Music and Organist at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Dublin, CA, and Organist at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church. He is the former Music Director of the San Francisco Lyric Chorus, and has also provided concert accompaniment for a number of Bay Area choral groups, including WomenSing, the University of California’s University Chorus and Chamber Singers, Rossmoor Community Chorus, and Cantare con Vivo.

Bob and his wife Marianne have three adult children, Sean, Delara and Jeremy, and four grandchildren, Kirsten, Darren, Carter, and Alexandra. When not making music, Bob is often found at the golf course trying to figure out how not to hit the ball into the woods, the weeds, the sand, the lake — not to mention the cars driving by on the road….

Thoughts on Music Ministry

Music is an essential part of worship. We find many references to music throughout scripture. The psalms, in particular, have long functioned as a hymn book for people of faith. I particularly appreciate the image of making a joyful noise to God (the organist part of me likes the idea of just putting on all the stops and letting go!). Whether our voices are professional or untrained, whether we read music or not, whether we are trained or self-taught on an instrument, we should make our joyful noises, offering our best to God.

Those who serve in the music ministry must function as cantors, strengthening and enabling the people’s song. This concept, set forth and explored by Paul Westermeyer in The Church Musician, is important for both professional and volunteer musicians, for singers as well as instrumentalists. We must ultimately all be amateurs: enthusiastic lovers of music, and musical lovers of God.

Even though instruments, vocal solos and choral anthems are presented to the listening congregation, that presentation and the congregation’s active listening and response in worship are a sacramental offering to God, expressing both the transcendence and the presence of God among us.

In addition to Sunday worship, music is an important part of special services and events include sung evensongs, special music for The Great Vigil and Christmas, an annual Messiah Sing, and annual concerts by the music program.

We love new members! If you are interested in trying any of St. Stephen’s music groups, please contact Minister of Music Bob Adams, or just come try a rehearsal.