Musical magic will fill summer nights at Utah State University, and all proceeds will help to grow future music stars.

The idea is one of many from former Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Craig Jessop, who now heads USU's music department.

"While many of our students are away from campus working to save money for college, the department is also making an effort to increase scholarship support," Jessop said. Ten-dollar tickets to the concerts will fund multiple student scholarships.

Jessop recalls struggling to pay for college when he made the choice years ago.

"Thanks to my family and a modest scholarship, we paid the tuition bills, but I never could have afforded to pay for the education I actually received here at Utah State," he said. "I'm back at USU now because I see that same passion for teaching and commitment to the students from my colleagues."

Faculty and staff in the music department are donating their services and supplies for the concert series. Jessop said the concerts will feature some of the school's finest students — members of the Caine Percussion Ensemble, students in the Marie Eccles Caine Opera Quartet and the award-winning students of professor Gary Amano, director of the department's piano program.

"The opportunity to perform on-stage along with members of the faculty gives students a real-world, professional experience that's not possible at most universities," said recent percussion performance graduate Alissa Kirk. She will be performing with the Caine Percussion Ensemble this summer.

"I know I can speak for all the students and recent alumni participants in voicing their enthusiastic support of these concerts, not only for musical reasons, but also in recognition of the much-needed scholarship support they will provide," Kirk said.

The upcoming concert series provides an opportunity to use the otherwise empty Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall during the summer months.

"What better way to support student scholarships and hear the extraordinary talents to be found in our faculty and their outstanding students?" said Jessop, who has also served as a conductor for the U.S. Air Force choir.

Various Midsummer Night's Magic concerts will be happening on Wednesday nights beginning June 25 at the Performance Hall, 1090 E. 785 North, in Logan, and will include local artists along with other musical groups.

For more information about the summer concerts, contact USU's music department at 435-797-3015.


E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com