Dr. Craig Jessop, Professor of Music, is the newly appointed and founding Dean for the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. These appointments follow Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as music director of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Head of the Department of Music at Utah State. He is the founder and Music Director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra and has served as the music director of the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival sponsored by the Weill Institute of Music at Carnegie Hall. Prior to his appointment with the Tabernacle Choir, Dr. Jessop was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force music programs, where he served as director of the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C. (1980-1987); as commander and conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein, Germany (1987-1991); and as commander and conductor of the Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band (1991-1995). He has also been music director of the Maryland Choral Society, the Rhineland-Pfalz International Choir of Germany and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.
Dr. Jessop has a Bachelor of Science from Utah State University, 1973; Master of Arts from Brigham Young University, 1976; and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Stanford University, 1980.
Dr. Jessop has been on the American choral scene for more than thirty years. Under Dr. Jessop’s musical direction, the Tabernacle Choir received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts. He has recorded over 15 CDs on the Telarc and MTC labels with the Choir and most recently received a Grammy nomination for his work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
At the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Dr. Jessop conducted the Mormon 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 with whom he has collaborated 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 de Burgos. A much sought-after guest conductor, Dr. Jessop has conducted the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival sponsored by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and the Berkshire Choral Festival.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Dr. Jessop has been active as a baritone vocalist, first as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and later with the choirs of Helmuth Rilling and John Rutter and with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers. He is a previous winner of the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions and San Francisco Opera auditions, and has participated in the Merola Opera training program of the San Francisco Opera.
He lives in the peaceful setting of the northern Utah valley of Cache County with his wife RaNae. They are the parents of four children and have seven wonderful grandsons.