Chris Heslop graduated with honors from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he studied saxophone with Larry McKenna and arranging/composition with Dr. John Valerio, Dennis DiBlasio and Dr. Paul Miller. After graduating, he went on to study composition and score reading with Dr. Malvina Leshock. He continued his studies in New York City with composers Jim McNeely, Mike Abene, and Mike Holober.
Currently, Chris teaches composition at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education and Jazz history at Albright College. He regularly composes music for film projects with Amazing Berks and theatre works for Reading Theater Project and Yocum. He has created two operas with librettist Vicki Haller Graff, and music for six works for young audiences. He is currently composing for Traffic Opera, a short opera-on-film that takes place in a traffic jam.
Chris has recently become a member of the Alex Meixner Band and travels throughout the U.S. and beyond with that eclectic project. Locally, Chris plays with Hot Club of Reading, a group which concentrates on the gypsy swing music of Django Reinhardt. He can also be seen playing with one of his own traditional jazz groups known as Hesse’s Hot Jazz.
Chris is also an alumnus of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop in New York City under the direction of Grammy winners Jim McNeely and Michael Abene. He also performs for the Reading Musical Foundation’s Jazz Music in the Schools program and is active as a performer and educator for the Berks Jazz Festival. For over ten years, Chris has coordinated educational activities for the internationally known Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. During this period of time, Chris has helped bring world class musicians such as Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Andrew Neu, Denis DiBlasio, Larry McKenna, Gunnar Mossblad, Michael Davis, Ingrid Jensen, and many more to the students of Berks County.
Chris has arranged and/or composed for the Reading Pops Orchestra, Dave Stahl Big Band, Rob Stoneback Big Band with Bill Watrous, Gerald Veasley and HeadsUp Superband, CTA with Danny Seraphine, BMI/NY Jazz Orchestra, Kutztown University Jazz Studies, Ringgold Band, and Dave Kline among others. His music has been heard in several films, including The Polka King, Traffic Opera, and A Perfect You.
His performance credits include jazz and pop artists Phil Woods, Simone, California Transit Authority, HeadsUp Superband, Gerald Veasley, Bob Belden, John Swana, Olivia Newton-John, The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Valli, Don Rickles, and many more. Additionally, Chris has played with the following Salsa greats: Cano Estremera, Luisito Carrion, Luigi Texidor, Luisito Rosario, Viti Ruiz, and Kevin Ceballo. He has also shared the stage with Willie Colon, Gran Combo, Ray Vega, and Oscar D’Leon.