Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Craig Jessop Resigns!

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Director Craig Jessop suddenly resigned last night. I am totally and utterly shocked. He just took over in 1999! The Deseret News has a good report:

"Mormon Tabernacle Choir music director Craig Jessop resigned Tuesday night during a meeting with members of the choir, leaving the group stunned and emotional, according to one source.

"He made the announcement to choir members following a regular rehearsal. Associate music director Mack Wilberg will serve as interim choir director.

"Jessop apparently read a letter to choir members..."

Continue reading the Deseret News article here.


Chris Anderson said...

I too was surprised. But he'd been doing it almost 10 years. I'll bet you think like I do - if I were to get the gig of playing organ for the choir, I'd probably tap that as long as possible. I should submit an application....

Sarah said...

I wonder if more information will be coming out in the next few weeks about this.

Fifthgen said...

OK, I don't think of myself as a rumormonger, but this whole thing is very odd. He resigns to spend more time with his family, yet it is weeks beofre conference oand other major events? And he gives no pressing reason like an illnes, etc.? And there is no big sed-off, a la John longhurst, the Tabernacle organist? Something has gone on, but no one is talking.

Jake said...

The reason it seems extremely odd is beacause was forced to resign. Based on a very reliable source, he was told by the First Presidency to generate a list of dissident members as well as those he belived were gay. He of course refused to do it and was forced to resign. I was deeply saddend and sickend when I was told this information.

Anonymous said...

I realize none of you know me, but this is the top site that comes up when you google "Craig Jessop resign" and I thought I could clarify some things for you.

1. Yes, it does seem odd that Craig should resign so close to some major events. But I can assure you that the Choir's schedule is so jam-packed year round that ANY time of the year would have seemed like a difficult time to resign. And while General Conference looms large in the Church membership's consciousness, it is not a big deal for the Choir. It doesn't start rehearsing for General Conference until a couple of days before, so it wasn't really on the Choir's radar at the time Craig resigned. And Mack Wilberg has conducted "The Redeemer" so many times that it didn't really leave the Choir in the lurch over the Easter concert. The timing of Craig's resignation was, in fact, perfect. There could not have been a smoother transition.

2. Craig was most definitely not asked by the First Presidency to provide them with a list of gays, dissidents, Democrats, Coke drinkers, FHE non-observers, or any other kind of person. So sorry, Jake, but your reliable source isn't very reliable. Craig Jessop and Mack Wilberg have almost no one-on-one interaction with most members of the Choir and Orchestra, and they would be the last people in the entire organization to know those kinds of personal details. And does anyone really think that a brand new First Presidency has as the top item on their agenda a purge of radicals from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? They have far more important things to worry about (such as, for example, the spiritual health of the other 12 million members of the Church, and the other 6 billion people in the world).

3. One part of the story that the press releases and news stories did not report is that Craig's letter of resignation began with the observation that every goal he had set for himself and for the Choir when he joined thirteen years ago had now been met. It was obvious that he had simply taken the Choir as far as he could, and to stay with the Choir any longer would actually stagnate the Choir's progress. He needed to stand aside so that he could take on new challenges, and so the Choir could continue to grow and progress under someone else's direction.

4. He has not left the Church (he attended his own ward last Sunday, for probably the first time in thirteen years!). He is not secretly gay. He has not had an affair... etc., etc. These were all rumors spread on discussion boards by people using "reliable sources." It might just be hard to accept his resignation at face value: he wants to spend more time with his family, and he's looking for new musical challenges. I think you'll find him continuing to work with high school choirs around the country, as he did the day after he resigned -- he flew to NYC to conduct a combined HS choir in Brahms's German Requiem at Carnegie Hall. He loves doing that kind of thing.

5. Craig's wife was scheduled for hip surgery the week following his resignation. Wouldn't it be nice if he could be with his wife during her recuperation rather than being gone 60 hours a week?

6. People should remember that this was a job, not a calling, and it is not the "Holy Grail" for LDS choral directors to direct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It is very hard work, with long hours, and no vacations. We should not be at all surprised that a 58-year-old might not want to do such gruelling work any more.

7. Knowing what I do about Craig, I am not surprised AT ALL that he would do ANYTHING to avoid a big send-off. The Choir was never about him -- he made sure people understood that. But if there had been any whiff of a hint among the Choir that he was about to resign, there would have been all manner of lavish send-offs and expressions of love and appreciation and parties andgift baskets, yada yada yada, that would have detracted from the real business of the Choir. The best way to avoid that is to walk in, resign, and walk away.

Kristen said...

Thanks, Anonymous, that was refreshing, and I would like to believe what you say, but what qualifies you to speak contrary to all the other speculators on the internet? I'm just a concerned MoTab fan and I an sad that Brother Jessop has left. I hope you are right.

Anonymous said...

What qualifies me? I'm a current member of the MoTab Choir who actually has worked one-on-one with both Craig and Mack for the last two years. I'm willing to admit I don't know the "full story," but you can trust what I do know.

Anonymous said...

Nothing can obscure the fact that the manner of CJ's resignation was highly irregular. No one in his position would bail out without a moment's notice absent some element of compulsion on the part of management. Moreover, the MTC removed his biography from the website; an act that is equally irregular. The only question is when the full story will emerge.

Kristen in AZ said...

Thanks again, Anonymous MoTab Choir Member, for the further light and knowledge you have shed on the matter. I've sung in college and community choirs for years and I have enjoyed so much the improvements I've seen in the Choir's quality of performance as well as the quality and variety in their repertoire. All my best to you and the other Choir members. I never miss your show, and I love listening to your CD's. Keep up the great work.

sz said...

To Mr. Anonymous who listed 7 points about CJ's resignation here and in the newspapers:

Your seven points look good at first, but your facts just don't gel.

It is BECAUSE of the very qualities that you listed about Craig that those of us who sang under his direction in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir simply WILL NOT BELIEVE that he would walk out like he did! "Retire" from the choir - yes. "Leave" the choir - yes. "Quit" the choir - yes. Do "other things" instead of the choir - yes.

That is the very reason near-strangers are sickened and devastated over Dr. Jessop's "resignation." There is something sensed that is just not right!

But NEVER, EVER would Craig Jessop CHOOSE to do anything like he did, in the manner it was done. Not the loving, caring, diplomatic, Christ-like person who directed us in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He would never leave his "family" like that. We were family. You ask ANY singer or orchestra member!

It was something so traumatic, so devastating that Craig Jessop was forced to read his resignation! Craig Jessop – who can stand with dignitaries around the world and converse without a note! He read his resignation! That was not Craig Jessop speaking. That was just not Craig’s sensitive way.

The truth may never come out. We know Craig and have had the opportunity to be with since that day. But we did not. . . and will not mention it. It is personal, and should stay personal. He too, must be hurting as all are who love him.

Let’s just remember what he has done for music, for the Choir, for mankind and be grateful his light could touch our souls.

Anonymous said...

I whole-heartedly agree with all you said. I too have been lucky to be a member of the MTC and Bro. Jessop has been an inspiring example to me. Whatever he possibly (or not) be going through, I pray for him. I have lost sleep worrying over his well-being. Craig Jessop is truly a kind, happy, optimistic, and patient musician that was never seemed self-absorbed...which can be hard to come by in the music industry.
I hope he knows just how many people love and appreciate him!

Anonymous said...

I whole-heartedly agree with all you said. I too have been lucky to be a member of the MTC and Bro. Jessop has been an inspiring example to me. Whatever he possibly (or not) be going through, I pray for him. I have lost sleep worrying over his well-being. Craig Jessop is truly a kind, happy, optimistic, and patient musician who never seemed self-absorbed...which can be hard to come by in the music industry.
I hope he knows just how many people love and appreciate him!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the resignation is because he is receiving a new calling during General Conference? There is a pretty significant vacancy right now . . .

Anonymous said...

BYU Music Master's graduate with Craig said:
Craig Jessop is a true professional besides being a member of the church. The time has come for him to progress to another level of his professional advancement besides being with his wife at this time of her need. Everyone needs a time to rest with their beloved family members and everyones needs a time to reflect on their visions to advance their talented potentials. I sure Craig Jessop is well aware of other areas he feels he needs to grow and experience. You go guy!!!

Anonymous said...

To BYU Music Master's graduate ...

If you know Craig Jessop as well as you should you know, you know that he would never end his career as director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in that way. He is far to noble for that. Please!

I hope and pray someone in the upper ranks has not completely destroyed the man. The choir is having a VERY difficult time getting over this fake resignation, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Dr. Craig Jessop interviewed to be the new Music Department Head at Utah State University. I am a music major in the program, and have been notified that he has been offered the position. Jessop has his roots here in Logan and in a meeting with the students in the department yesterday, he said he would love to come back and be an Aggie again. Very exciting for the USU music program and the University itself. He will hopefully bring us better visibility as a program.

Jeremy said...

Craig Jessop was my Young Men's president when I was in High School and I graduated with his son from Papillion LaVista High School in Papillion, Nebraska in 1995.

Craig is hands down the greatest youth leader anyone could ask of the main reasons I stayed "true to the faith" and did not go astray. He is a pure man with nothing to hide and the greatest person that I have known personally. His son Aaron came back to Nebraska to medical school for a few years (he has since moved to his residency at Yale). When I was talking to him I jokingly said that I saw his Dad last general conference. He said that I probably see him as much as he does, but he didn't seem to be joking about it. No doubt in my mind that his family has sacrificed a lot these past 13 years and it is not surprising that he felt it was time for him to return and spend more time with them.

Craig loves his wife Renae and his 4 children and they mean the world to him. When you walked into their home when they lived here in Nebraska, there was always a special spirit there.

I am so happy that he is the new music director at Utah State. This will give him the satisfaction of continuing to teach music and also spend more time with his family.

Anybody who says anything less than stellar about Craig Jessop or his family is flat out wrong without question or exception.


Anonymous said...

I noticed that this blog has wound down somewhat. Another one with more entries can be found at

My own opinion: His wife was up for surgery and he became the head of the USU Music Department May 5th. That doesn't happen overnight! He probably survived a first or second cut right before he decided to resign.

Rumor: I stress this again, what I'm about to say is rumor! But I heard that he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to resign and couldn't sleep until he wrote that letter. He gave it the next day.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he left because he finally realized he's been involved with a cult and has decided to surrender his life to Christ and dedicate his daily readings to the one and only Holy Scripture. I pray that all Mormons would do this because end times are here. With love from a Christian for our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jeremy said... is a great site with answers from the church themself to questions about the Mormon's belief in Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

"God is your Father in Heaven. He knows you personally. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and your Savior. His life and teachings are the way to peace and happiness." - Jeffrey R. Holland (one of the 12 Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Anonymous said...

Came to Oklahoma City this past week to conduct our " Joy to the World" Concert...All the Choir members and Orchestra just feel in Love with him..
He encouraged, and inspired us.He delt with our Oklahoma accents in a tender, fun way, however: when singing began..we all went to school...He expected the best, and we gave him our best..He was also experiencing some allergy related symptons to our climate...Not feeling well,he worked, he directed, he guided all of us through some hard,long hours,to prepare us for the upcoming concert. Dr. Craig Jessop,the hour before our 1st performance,addressing the entire choir 300 members.Walked to the rear of the lines of singers and stopped in front of my husband ( A Black Man)he extended his hand, and expressed how pleased he was to have him singing in this choir and sharing his testimony of Jesus Christ through this beautiful music.My husband felt a great spirit in the man and just adores him as do I..
My husband and I both agree that we have stood beside a GREAT MAN.
Happy New Year to all of you.