Dr. Craig Jessop is Dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He is also the newly appointed Music Director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra. These appointments follow Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as music director of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He concurrently serves 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 been on the American choral scene for more than thirty years. The renowned choral conductor has recently stepped down from leadership of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir after over 12 years of service with the choir. 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 4 children and have four wonderful grandsons.
Colonel Larry H. Lang is commander and conductor of The United States Air Force Band. This premier musical unit inspires patriotism and military service in fellow citizens, honors those who serve, and represents the U.S. Air Force and United States of America to millions worldwide. Colonel Lang is responsible for all activities of this 179-member squadron including equipping, training, and deploying Airmen musicians to perform nearly 1,500 missions each year.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Lang began his musical career as a trombonist. He attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces where he earned bachelor’s degrees in music education and music performance in 1980. He went on to complete a master’s degree in music education at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and was appointed to the faculty there in 1982. He also served for seven years as assistant director of bands at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Lang received his commission through Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas in April 1990. His previous commands include the Air Force Band of the Pacific in Alaska, and the Air Force Heritage of America Band in Virginia. Under his leadership, the Heritage of America Band received four Air Force Organizational Excellence awards. After attending Air Command and Staff College in Alabama, Colonel Lang also served as the commander of the Air Force Band of Liberty in Massachusetts and the Air Force Academy Band in Colorado. He was selected to command The U.S. Air Force Band in March 2012.
In 2005, Lang was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. He is also a member of numerous musical associations and is active as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States and abroad.
Col. Arnald D. Gabriel retired from the United States Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36 year military career, at which time he was awarded his third Legion of Merit for his service to the United States Air Force and to music education throughout the country.
He served as Commander/Conductor of the internationally renowned U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the USAF Band at a special concert held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
A combat machine gunner with the United States Army’s famed 29th Infantry Division in Europe during WW II, Gabriel received two awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.
Col. Gabriel served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from 1985 to 1995, as Conductor of the GMU Symphony Orchestra and as Chairman, Department of Music for eight of those years. In recognition of his ten years service to the university, he was named Professor Emeritus of Music.
Col. Gabriel’s professional honors include the very first Citation of Excellence awarded by the National Band Association, the Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic’s Gold Medal of Honor and its Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s New Millennium Lifetime Achievement Award and its rarely presented National Citation for “significant contributions to music in America,” Kappa Kappa Psi’s Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Beta Mu’s Outstanding Contribution to Bands Award, and the St. Cecilia Award from the University of Notre Dame. Col. Gabriel was inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, becoming the youngest person ever to have received this honor, and was an inaugural inductee to the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame of Cortland High School in Cortland, New York. He is also a Past President of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.