Founded in 2008 by Dr. Craig Jessop, the American Festival Chorus & Orchestra has become a leading artistic voice in Northern Utah and has sought to enrich the lives it touches through performance, education, and appreciation of choral art.
The auditioned Chorus brings together more than 200 singers from a 90-mile radius, including talented singers from the community, Utah State University faculty, and outstanding USU students. The Orchestra is a 65-member professional ensemble composed of faculty from USU’s music department, professional musicians from the region, and select USU students.
Director and Conductor Dr. Craig Jessop is Professor of Music and the founding Dean for the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. These appointments follow Dr. Jessop’s distinguished tenure as music director of the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Prior to this, Dr. Jessop’s long and storied career includes serving as director of the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants in Washington, D.C.; as conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe; and as director of the Maryland Choral Society.
Since its founding, the American Festival Chorus & Orchestra has promoted a varied, rich, and vibrant musical repertoire, ranging from masterworks, opera, and pops, to gospel, Americana, and Christmas music. Milestones for AFCO include performances of the Britten War Requiem, Brahms German Requiem, Bach St. Matthew Passion, Haydn Creation, and the Mozart Requiem. Although based in Logan, AFCO also performs in Salt Lake City and Sun Valley, and provides outreach to smaller communities in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho.
AFCO has enjoyed a diverse roster of guest artists, including Paul Phoenix, Alyson Cambridge, Donny Osmond, Kurt Bestor, Maureen McGovern, Peter Cetera, Kansas, Jenny Oaks Baker, and Nathan Pacheco. Additionally, AFCO collaborates frequently with the Cache Children's Choir and collaborates each summer in a large-scale masterwork production with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.