Mormons pursue dreams of being in the Tabernacle Choir


Opportunities to try out for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are limited. When opportunities do arise, even living out of state isn’t a big enough deterrent to keep some people from pursuing their dream of singing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ well-known choir.

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Hundreds of people apply for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir each time auditions open.
David Cramer, an economics major from McLean, Va., lived across the country when his mother decided she wanted to be in the choir. His mother, Barbara, was one of 300 individuals trying out for three spots available for first sopranos in 2006. What started as an apparent fantasy became reality as she was chosen to join the choir.

This would only be possible if they were to relocate to Utah and if her husband found a job in the state. The stars aligned as a job fell into place the day after her acceptance, and the Cramers moved to Utah. While Barbara has the musical talent, it is a family effort to be in the choir.

“My dad has been extremely supportive the whole time,” David Cramer said.

Hundreds of people apply for the choir each time auditions open. The audition process includes three parts: a homemade CD or audition tape, a music theory test and an in-person audition. The experience is lauded as one of the greatest, most spiritually enriching opportunities in the Church, but it is a commitment that takes a lot of time and effort from participants and their families.

Jon Rowberry, a former choir member and a current assistant to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir president, was invited to try out for the choir after participating in a father-and-son choir for a priesthood session of General Conference. Rowberry acknowledged the tryout was an intimidating process.

“Whatever your voice is, it is,” Rowberry said. “There’s no hiding anything.

The audition includes singing a scale, hymns, a cappella and with and without vibrato. These tests are coupled with other exercises to ensure choir members’ ability to stay on key.

Jon Rowberry’s wife, Larraine, decided she wanted to audition for the choir, but didn’t really know where to start.

“I had no idea what it would take to tryout,” she  said.

After going through the three step process that takes up to six months, Rowberry was in for some of the best experiences of her life.

“You’re in the loft with incredible people, singing incredible music — inspiring, beautiful, incredible music — praising God,” she said.

While the position requires frequent attendance and many hours of effort, Rowberry maintains it is one of the greatest opportunities in the Church.

“You’re on a musical mission, it just doesn’t get better than that,” she said.

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