Christopher Jessup, pianist & composer

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I grew up listening to jazz, but after purchasing a CD of Mozart’s music as a child, I fell in love with classical music and decided to pursue a career as a musician. The most important influence on my musical life/career was my elementary school music teacher, as she recognized my skills at a young age and persuaded my parents to enroll me in piano lessons.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Finding an apartment in New York City that allows pianos!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am most proud of a performance I gave just before the pandemic started in Feb. 2020 of a Mozart piano concerto. It took place at Merkin Concert Hall. The performance is available on YouTube:

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

My favourite composer to perform is Haydn. His music is delicate and subtle, and I feel my approach to his pieces comes across quite well. I particularly like his B Minor piano sonata.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

I like to step into the shoes of the composer, envisioning what state of mind he/she was in while writing the composition. This enables me to give a convincing performance of the piece.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I’m a composer, so I like to compliment the standard piano repertoire with my own solo piano compositions. The juxtaposition of the old versus the new is always very interesting.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Carnegie Hall, because the acoustics are impeccable.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

I feel classical music needs to be introduced to children at a young age in schools in order to avoid the perception that classical music is only for the elite and elderly.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I performed my own piano concerto with an orchestra in Italy back in 2015. It was a very powerful and moving experience.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Using music as a force for good is extremely important, especially given the current state of the world—for example, doing benefit concerts to help a charitable cause or non-profit organization.

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

Although it is a cliché, never give up!

What’s the one thing in the music industry we’re not talking about which you think we should be?

Greater attention and sensitivity to mental health of artists/musicians.

Christopher Jessup is one of the foremost musicians of his generation. A recording artist for GRAMMY-winning Navona Records and a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School, Jessup’s compositions and performances have garnered international acclaim. Critics have praised his “…imaginative handling of atmosphere…” [Fanfare Magazine] as well as his “…high standard of technique and impeccable phrasing…” [New York Concert Review]. Jessup has been recognized by some of the most respected entities in the world, most notably ASCAP, National Sawdust, and Steinway & Sons. He has been awarded top prizes in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra’s Composers Competition, the Princeton Piano Competition, and the Bradshaw & Buono International Competition. Jessup has also been featured in a variety of high-profile publications, including Gramophone, Interlude, and Pianist Magazine. Furthermore, his performances have been broadcast on NPR and Classic FM Radio. Jessup’s compositions have been performed and recorded by The Juilliard Orchestra, The Brno Contemporary Orchestra, The Kühn Choir Of Prague, Hélène Grimaud, Jeffrey Zeigler, and countless others. His music is published by Noten Roehr Frankfurt, Sacred Music Publishing, and J.W. Pepper. In addition to his extensive independently-released discography, Jessup has recorded for Navona Records and RMN Classical.

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