MoTab Choir Q&A with Alum Jon Rowberry
Jon Rowberry, accounting grad and Mormon Tabernacle Choir staple, has a résumé that reads like a stirring chorale—highs, lows, and a crescendo that made him CEO of FranklinCovey. We cover his career in the Winter 2014 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine, but here are a few outtakes from our interview about Rowberry’s time in America’s Choir.
Marriott Alumni Magazine: When did you join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and how long have you been assistant to the president?
Rowberry: I joined in 2001. My wife had been in the choir for three years at that point, and this was an opportunity to do something together. I tried out and was in through 2007. When it was just about time for me to ride off into the sunset—they kick you out when you’re sixty—Mr. Mac (Fred Macray “Mac” Christensen, then president of the choir) asked me if I’d stay and be in charge of the men’s wardrobe. I did that for a couple of years. Then the person who was his assistant left on a public affairs mission with his wife, and Mr. Mac asked me to step into the role of assistant. When Ron Jarrett became the president, he asked me to stay so I’ve been an assistant for about three years. It’s an open ended assignment. I have no idea how long it will be!
MAM: What does your role entail?
Rowberry: I tell people that I’m like an administrative assistant. I do whatever the president wants me to do. The organization as a whole is about seven hundred volunteers—with the choir, orchestra, bell choir, stage crew, and staff. There’s the task of managing rehearsals and making sure everybody’s where they need to be. I’m responsible for the hosts that come and talk to the crowd beforehand—Ruth Todd, Mark Eubank, Kent Norton, and Spencer Kinard. I’m responsible for the bell choir and go to all of their rehearsals. When we go on tour, my assignment is to be the companion to the general authority who comes on tour. That’s a wonderful assignment, making sure they’re where they need to be.
MAM: That sounds like a full-time job!
Rowberry: Well, it’s not quite that. Being in the choir as a calling probably took as much time as any calling I’ve ever had, and yet it was one of the easiest. Time-wise, it’s a big commitment, but it’s great in terms of stress.
MAM: What part do you sing?
Rowberry: I am a bass, and my wife is a first soprano. We were always on completely different sides of the choir.
MAM: What would you say is your most memorable choir experience?
Rowberry: That’s like trying to pick your favorite kid. I think our most memorable experience was the dedication of the Nauvoo temple. Both my wife and I had direct ancestors in Nauvoo—my great-great-grandfather Jon Rowberry and her great-great-grandfather Ezra Taft Benson—so being back there was probably the most powerful experience we had in the choir. But it’s only inches ahead of a lot of others. There are some jobs where people say it’s almost a crime to be paid to do it. Well, this is a calling where it’s almost unfair. It’s a lot of work, but the plusses that come with it make it one of the best callings you’ll ever have. You get much more out of it than you put in.