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2017 Choral Festival


  • Mars Hill University 79 Cascade Street Mars Hill, NC, 28754 United States (map)

Plans are well underway for the 69th Festival to be held on February 3-4, 2017 with Craig Jessop making his second appearance as our guest clinician.

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 and Head of the Department of Music at Utah State. He is the founder and Music Director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra and has served 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).

The Mars Hill University/J. Elwood Roberts Choral Festival was established in 1949 by the late J. Elwood Roberts as an effort to improve choral music in the high schools of western North Carolina. While in the beginning the “clinic” was comprised of about fifteen schools in the closely surrounding area, this annual event has grown into one of the premiere choral festivals in North Carolina and, as far as is known, is the longest, continuously-running festival of its type in the southeast and is unique for a private college in the United States. Each year more than 700 students from approximately 100 high schools audition for the Festival Choir.

Earlier Event: December 2
Christmas Concert
Later Event: February 4
Choral Festival Concert