Memorial Day 2017
8 minutes ago
"Craig Jessop's work with singers is magical. When he came to [our area] for [a music convention] to conduct the All-State choir, the work he did with those kids was so detailed and so exacting. It showed in the exquisite performance of [a challenging piece] and other very difficult and breathtaking repertoire. You could tell after wards that in just those 3 days he had won the hearts of those 500 kids who had never met him before but were all over him to talk with him and thank him. He has this spirituality, this kindness and graciousness, while at the same time showing you way after way to quickly make very detailed changes that make the difference between excellent and unbelievably beautiful.
"The work he did with our children's choir at their clinic at Utah State University was the same way. As he listened to and worked with excerpts from the Brahms Requiem, Handel, Rutter, and Bach, he not only stopped them by recognizing details and changes that would make such a big difference, but he immediately crafted games and exercises that caused them to be able to understand and make the changes almost in real time. He was as demanding as anyone could possibly be, but his work with them was so exciting that they were eating out of his hand and anxious for more.
"I have never seen anyone who could combine the most exacting demand for change and details, and at the same time do it in such a way that singers felt immediate accomplishment and confidence. After this one session in the morning, the children of the choir sang a concert that evening that was unparalleled in quality their entire preceding 8 years.
"He works to bring concepts from the "intuitive" to the "conscious". He makes it possible for the singers for the first time to feel as if they have control in a conscious way to insure the high quality of pitch is there, breathing, diction, and phrasing.
"I am so glad he made the switch to teaching when he did. He had been anxious to do so. It was hard for everyone to lose him so suddenly, but had they waited to consider a replacement with search committees, etc, he would have continued another 2 years - something he just could not do. Through the understanding of leadership and those who were close to him, I know he must have felt he could make the transition sooner than later.
"The music program at Utah State has already kicked off with a meteoric mushrooming of quality, programs, and performances in every instrumental and choral area. We are all fortunate to have benefited from his longstanding work with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and his profound ongoing work at Utah State. The young children in my children's choir who have a specific interest in pursuing music have already asked about whether they could go to school there. They will certainly benefit from his legacy there - present and future."