GV works with famous choral conductor to produce holiday concert

Craig Jessop.  Courtesy / wikipedia

Craig Jessop. Courtesy / wikipedia

Arie Nienhuis

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One of the definitive traits of the holiday season is festive and joyful Christmas music which can be heard everywhere from the supermarket to concert hall. In keeping with this tradition, the Department of Music at Grand Valley State University will present a collaborative holiday concert featuring Robert Shaw’s “Many Moods of Christmas,” and this will conclude the events of the 2018 Fall Arts Celebration.

This concert is important and notable for a number of reasons, including input from local high school students and direction by the internationally-regarded choral conductor Dr. Craig Jessop. Jessop is the founding dean of the Cain College of Arts at Utah State University and is the former conductor of the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His achievements include leading the choir at the 2002 Winter Olympics which was held in Salt Lake City.

“Craig Jessop is a true American treasure,” said Dr. Danny Phipps, chair of GVSU’s music, theatre, and dance department. “I am very excited that our students will have an opportunity to work with this legendary conductor because those who remain in the fields of choral performance or choral education will never forget working with him.”

The chance to work with such an important figure in the choral community is immensely valuable for GVSU music students, high school choir members and the audience. Dr. Henry Duitman, conductor of GVSU Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor at GVSU, shared some thoughts on this.

“Every year, we bring in artists who have a national stature and Jessop is certainly one of these,” said Conductor of GVSU Symphony Orchestra. “However, because he is working with our students for three days, his impact on our music program will be uniquely powerful.”

A holiday concert is no new undertaking for GVSU, but “Many Moods of Christmas” is definitely a break from the usual experience. Aside from Jessop’s involvement, Duitman cites the variety of the music and the downtown venue as being significant.

“The concert is taking place in a beautiful and historic church, and the performance will be of a very high quality so it is sure to attract a larger crowd,” Duitman said. “’Many Moods’ consists of twelve different Christmas carols and presents a wide variety of emotions and styles.”

This holiday season, there are a few other concerts that will provide the same experience as “Many Moods of Christmas.” Duitman spoke of this experience and why it is so valuable to both the audience and GVSU students.

“The concert will present a great deal of joy and exuberance about life,” Duitman said. “When there seem to be so many problems in our country and around the world, ‘Many Moods’ is certain to provide inspiration for all.”

GVSU’s performance of Robert Shaw’s “Many Moods of Christmas,” as conducted by Craig Jessop, will take place Dec. 3, 2018 at 7:30 p.m., at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids. The event is free and open to the public.