(Alexandria, MN) To say that Dr. Craig Jessop is a distinguished musical director seems understating. His long career has taken him all over the world and has allowed him to work with people of all levels. On Monday, the Alexandria Area High School choir students learned from the master. Dr Jessop joined AAHS Music Director Steve Deitz and his AAHS backing vocalists for about an hour and a half of training.
The student experience with Dr Jessop started the previous weekend. Mr Deitz says he and the AAHS Concert Choir attended a choir retreat at Camp Ripley for an immersion in military music. Dr Jessop was their headliner and they got to sing with the 34th Infantry Army (Red Bull) Band of Minnesota. Deitz says it was a great experience. He adds that the students stayed in the soldiers’ barracks (T-Buildings) and ate in the refectory. Deitz says, “I stayed in the officers’ quarters. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.”
Jessop visited Alexandria as it was part of the grant provided by the MN State Arts Board, the Laura Messe Fund and the Five Wings Arts Council.
About Dr Jessop – Biography
Dr. Craig Jessop is a professor of music and coordinator of the Masters in Conducting with Choral Focus program at Utah State University. From 2010 to 2018, Dr. Jessop was the first dean of Caine College of the Arts at USU. This appointment follows Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as Music Director of the renowned Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra in Temple Square in Salt Lake City and as Head of the Music Department at Utah State University. He is the founder and musical director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra which in 2018 celebrated its 10th anniversary with a critically acclaimed tour of England, including performances at Ely Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church, Sloan Square, London. He was Music Director of the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival sponsored by the Weill Institute of Music at Carnegie Hall. For the past 10 years, Dr. Jessop has continued to serve as the Music Director of the National Memorial Day Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Prior to his appointment to the Tabernacle Choir, Dr. Jessop was Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force Music Programs, where he was Director of the US Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, DC (1980-1987); as Commander and Conductor of the US Air Force Orchestra in Europe in Ramstein, Germany (1987-1991); and as Commander and Conductor of the Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band (1991-1995). He has also served as Music Director of the Maryland Choral Society, the Rhineland-Pfalz International Choir of Germany, and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus. He began his career as a choral music teacher at Granite High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dr. Jessop holds a Bachelor of Science in Music from Utah State University, 1973; Master of Arts fin Choral Music Education from Brigham Young University, 1976; and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Stanford University, 1980.
In 2019, Dr. Jessop received the coveted Days of 47 Pioneer of Progress Award in Education from the Days of 47 Foundation, one of the state of Utah’s most prestigious recognitions for his service in the field of education. In 2018, Dr. Jessop received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Arts Education from the Sorenson Legacy Awards for Excellence in Arts Education. In 2017, Dr. Jessop was named Educator Laureate by Distinguished Concerts International New York at Carnegie Hall. In 2016, he received the Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Award, the highest honor in the arts in the State of Utah, from Governor Gary Herbert as well as the Art Administrator of the Year Award at the College’s National Convention. Orchestra Director’s Association (CODA) in Salt Lake City. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Utah, Dr. Jessop received the 2014 Governor’s Mansion Performing Artist Award from Governor Gary Herbert. In 2013, he received the prestigious Madeleine Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts and Humanities by the Conseil des arts et des sciences sociales de la Madeleine and in 2012, he received the Minuteman Prize from the Utah National Guard. for services rendered to the State of Utah.
Under his leadership, the Tabernacle Choir has received numerous awards, including the coveted National Medal of Arts at a ceremony at the White House. He has recorded over 15 CDs on the Telarc and MTC labels with the Choir and in 2008 received a Grammy nomination for his work with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra in Temple Square.
At the opening ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Dr. Jessop conducted the Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony, working with world-renowned artists Sting and Yo-Yo Ma, and composers John Williams and Michael Kamen. Other artists he has collaborated with include Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, Audra McDonald, The King’s Singers, Angela Lansbury, Claire Bloom, Walter Cronkite and Charles Osgood. In 2003, Dr Jessop conducted the choir and prepared the singers for a performance of A German Requiem at the prestigious Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Rafael Frübeck of Burgos. Highly sought-after guest conductor, Dr. Jessop has been a part of the American choral scene for more than three decades. His tenure as Music Director of the Tabernacle Choir and Director of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington DC has taken him to the most prestigious concert halls across the country and around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York. York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Royal Albert Hall in London and throughout Europe and Asia. In 2013, Dr. Jessop was selected by the American Choral Directors Association to conduct the monumental Benjamin Britten War Requiem with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and Orchestra at their national convention, the fourth time in his career to conduct at national conventions of ACDA. He is also a frequent guest conductor at the prestigious Berkshire Choral Festival in Massachusetts, and in 2018 he was the resident guest conductor of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, a fully professional choir, at their annual music festival. summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He recently performed with acclaimed American composer Morten Lauridsen and in concert at the Sun Valley Pavilion with Tony Award winning actors / singers Kelly O’Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchel and Sutton Foster. He also prepared the American Festival Chorus for critically acclaimed performances of the Mahler 4th Symphony and the Verdi Requiem for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in the Sun Valley Pavilion.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Dr Jessop has been active as a baritone singer, first as a member of the Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square, then with the choirs of Helmuth Rilling and John Rutter and with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers. . He is a past laureate of the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions and the San Francisco Opera Auditions, and has participated in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera training program.
He lives in the peaceful northern Utah Valley of Cache County with his wife RaNae. They are parents of four children and have ten wonderful grandchildren, 8 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.