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Leading the Way

Thursday, Sep. 04, 2014

USU's Craig Jessop with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Jeanette Herbert

Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts at USU, with Gov. Gary Herbert and Jeanette Herbert, at the award ceremony.

Craig Jessop, Gov. Herbert and musicians at award ceremony

Dr. Craig Jessop, Gov. Gary Herbert and Mrs. Jeanette Herbert (center) pose with members of the Fry Street Quartet and students from the Caine College of the Arts who performed at the award ceremony. (photo courtesy the Caine College of the Arts)

On Aug. 20, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert honored Craig Jessop, founding dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University, with the prestigious 2014 Utah Performing Artist Award, part of the Governor’s Mansion Artist Series.

“We want to appreciate what Craig Jessop has done to enhance music throughout the state,” said Herbert during the reception that honored not only Jessop, but St. George visual artist Roland Lee.

A series started in 1997, the Utah Governor’s Mansion Artist Awards recognize the finest in visual and performing arts throughout the state. Jessop was recognized by the governor for his achievements in music and as a champion of the arts throughout the state, but also recognized for his artistic contribution to the world.

“We all feel like we know Craig,” said Herbert, during a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. “He started very young in music and has done some exceptional things. Because of his talent, he has performed in some of the most beautiful places in the world.”

With more than 150 individuals in attendance, Jessop, former conductor of the award-winning Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accepted the honor bestowed upon him by the Utah governor and presented one of what he calls his most crowning achievements — music students from the Caine College of the Arts.

Along with members of the Fry Street Quartet, USU students Carly Ewell (harp), Lauren Belliston (piano), Nicholas Manning (guitar), Amanda Marshall (violin), Brynn Seegmiller (violin), Gaven Peck (viola) and Stephen Mitton (cello) performed.

“I am humbled and honored to be here and receive this award,” said Jessop. “Music is a collaborative art. A conductor succeeds because of talented musicians.”

The Utah Governor's Mansion Artist Awards are selected by committee, said Lorelie Andrus, co-chair for the Performing Artists Award at the Governor’s Mansion Artist Series. She said the committee selects a number of performing and visual artists who have contributed to the state or represent the state throughout communities locally and nationally. Andrus said after the committee selects a number of candidates, the list is then submitted to the governor’s office. Herbert then personally selects the recipients. The honor is given to six artists annually.

“(Jessop) is considered one of the treasures of the arts community,” said Andrus. “His body of work is appreciated throughout the state.”

The Performing Artist Award marks the second honor distinguished upon Jessop by the governor. In June 2012, Herbert recognized Jessop for a lifetime spent enriching lives through music with the Bronze Minuteman Award. The honor identifies military personnel who find a way to serve the state of Utah in extraordinary ways, said Herbert at the time of the award.

Jessop served as a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Air Force music programs, where he directed the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C., from 1980-1987. He also served as commander and conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein, Germany, from 1987-1991 and as commander and conductor of the Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band from 1991-95.

In addition to the Artist Award and the Bronze Minuteman, Jessop was also recently recognized for his outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Utah. He was given the 2013 Madeleine Award for distinguished service to the arts and humanities by the Madeleine Arts and Humanities Council. The award is presented annually as part of the Madeleine Festival of the Arts and Humanities to individuals who making comprehensive and long-term contributions to the arts and humanities in Utah.

Jessop is no stranger to accolades. Under his direction, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir received numerous awards, including the coveted National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at the White House. He has recorded more than 15 albums on the Telarc and MTC labels with the choir and in 2008 he received a Grammy nomination for his work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

In 2013, Jessop was also selected by the American Choral Directors Association to conduct the monumental Benjamin Britten “War Requiem” with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and Orchestra at its national convention, the fourth time in his career to have conducted at their national conventions.

A professor of music, Jessop has been on the American choral scene for more than three decades. 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 Mormon Tabernacle Choir, he was the music director of the Maryland Choral Society, the “Rhineland-Pfalz” International Choir of Germany and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.

Jessop has a bachelor’s of science degree from Utah State University, a master’s of arts from Brigham Young University and a doctor of musical arts in conducting from Stanford University.

Related link:

USU Caine College of the Arts

Writer and Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

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