Robert T. Gibson, who will graduate in May, is the associate conductor for Missouri State’s Men’s Chorus and the MSU Concert Chorale.
The Chorale, a select choir of about 50 student voices, was selected to perform as the principal musical group during the 58th presidential inauguration ceremony, held Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
The group sang for a live audience of about 1 million people and an internationally televised audience of about 40 million.
The next day, the Chorale held a concert at the National Presbyterian Church. A spiritual composition by Gibson, “Good News,” was part of that show.
“It’s such a big honor,” he said.
Music has led to powerful experiences
Gibson, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, has participated in choral music since childhood.
“Music touches you. It allows you to express yourself.”
He first met Dr. Cameron LaBarr, Missouri State’s director of choral studies and a 2007 MSU graduate, when both were at the University of North Texas. When LaBarr accepted a position at his alma mater, he reached out to Gibson.
“He said, ‘I would love for you to come to the master’s program here.’ It was difficult at first since my wife and I moved away from family, but being part of the music program made it a smooth transition.”
Gibson has been heavily involved in various MSU musical ensembles, and in spring 2016 went on an 18-day tour of South Africa with the Men’s Chorus. They visited cultural monuments, performed with local choirs and sang in the U.S. Embassy.
“I still can’t put in words the experience that we had because it was so, so powerful.”
Teaching others in a universal language
Gibson wants to teach, and after graduation he plans to move to Pennsylvania with his wife, an actress who has a job there.
He’s glad for the depth of education he received at MSU: “The program hones your craft and holds you to a higher standard.”
He wants his future students to love music as much as he does, and says it’s a universal language that helps people cross lines of background, race, religion, opinions and beliefs.
“Rather than just singing songs, I want to convey a message to all audiences I perform for — instilling hope and trust through music.”
This text was originally written by the Missouri State office of publications for the Graduate College viewbook.