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A native of Millville, Utah, Jessop has been a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a student of Robert Shaw and received his B.A. from Utah State University, M.A. from Brigham Young University and D.M.A. from Stanford University.
He has been the director of the National High School Choir Festival since its founding in 2005. The event, held at New York's Carnegie Hall, auditions schools from around the country to inspire and enable young singers in learning great works of music and performing with renowned musicians from around the world.
He has also spent seven years as a baritone with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers and performed in the choirs of Helmuth Rilling and John Rutter. Jessop earned a doctorate of musical arts in conducting and performance practice from Stanford University (1980), with an earlier master's degree in music education from Brigham Young University. He completed a bachelor's degree in music education at USU in 1973.
Prior to his association with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jessop had a distinguished career as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force, where he was director of the Singing Sergeants (1979–1987), commander/conductor, Band of the United States Air Forces in Europe (1987–91), conductor for Ramstein Community Choir/Rheinpfalz Community Choir (1988–91) and commander/conductor of the Air Combat Command Heartland of American Band (1991–95).
He began his career in education as director of choral activities at Granite High School in Salt Lake City.
Jessop was named Associate Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 1995 and became Music Director in 1999. Under Jessop's direction the Utah choir won many awards, including the Special Recognition Award from the International Radio and Television Society Foundation and a National Medal of Arts presented by George W. Bush. He served in that position until suddenly resigning on March 4, 2008. At an evening rehearsal he appeared long enough to read a statement, to the surprise and confusion of choir members and community members. Jessop explained he was "at a major crossroads of life" and would return to "the career that I originally began [in] my musical journey" and spend "more time together with our children and grandsons."
Jessop and his wife have four children and eight grandchildren.
Jessop became head of the Music Department at Utah State University, in Logan, Utah, on May 5, 2008. He has also been named director of the American Festival Chorus, a new 270-member choir headquartered at Utah State University. The choir performed with the Utah State University Symphony Orchestra on November 11, 2008 in a Veteran's Day tribute. On November 15, 2008, the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra debuted with a performance of Mozart's Requiem. On February 28, 2009, Dr. Jessop was invited to guest conduct a special concert with the Choirs of BYU. On April 2, 2010, Utah State University announced that Craig Jessop would become the first Dean of the Caine College of the Arts (CCA) at Utah State, created out of a split of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences into two colleges: CCA and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Since 2011, Dr. Jessop has served as Artistic Director for National Memorial Day Choral Festival held annually in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC sponsored by Music Celebrations International and the American Veterans Center. An uplifting and inspired program of patriotic music is selected each year by Dr. Jessop and is performed by choirs from around the United States to honor veterans past and present.
On December 22, 2012, Dr. Jessop conducted Joy to the World Christmas Musical Celebration Hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in central Oklahoma. The 60 orchestra member and 300 choir members are volunteers from many faiths in central Oklahoma, with the core membership drawn from 44 Latter-day Saint congregations.
From November 19–21, 2014, Jessop directed 440 of Nebraska's best choir members in the Nebraska Music Educators Association All-State Choir at the annual NMEA conference.
On November 16, 2015, Dr. Jessop conducted a concert called Through The Eyes Of A Child in Columbus, Ohio with the Hilliard Darby Symphonic Choir, Una Voce and The Columbus Children's Choir. The pieces he conducted included Count Your Blessings from White Christmas, Mass of the Children by John Rutter and When You Wish upon a Star from Disney's Pinocchio.
On April 10, 2017, Jessop conducted at the WorldStrides Festival of Gold Honor Choir and Honor Orchestra in San Francisco. He conducted kids in middle and high school at this prestigious event. This event took place at the Louis M. Davis Symphony Hall. He conducted the song "Proud To Serve".
- "Historical Roster". Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
- Mikita, Carole (March 5, 2008). "Craig Jessop stepping down as Tabernacle Choir director". KSL. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
- Moore, Carrie A. (March 4, 2008). "Tabernacle Choir Director Jessop resigns". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- "Utah State University Names Craig D. Jessop as Music Department Head". Utah State Today. Utah State University. April 4, 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
- Shirley, Samantha (March 2, 2009). "Jessop joins BYU choirs for unique performance". BYU NewsNet. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
- Williams, Patrick (April 2, 2010). "Deans for Two Colleges Named at Utah State University". Utah State Today. Utah State Today. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
- "NMEA". Archived from the original on 2014-11-23.
- Media related to Craig Jessop at Wikimedia Commons