The trend in the last 15 years has been toward using fewer commas. Despite what your first grade teacher said, you really aren't supposed to put commas everywhere you pause in a sentence, and people are finally teaching that. For example, you never use a comma after the word "because" even though we often pause there in speech and people frequently write commas there.
Unfortunately, this "fewer commas" trend can lead to confusion. This is a sentence that is frequently used to illustrate why we need to put in more commas: "She lived with her parents, a dog and a pig."
By the new rules of comma use, this is a proper sentence. But the meaning is totally destroyed by leaving out the comma after "dog." What the author intended was to say that she lived with her parents and two pets. What this sentence says is that her parents are a dog and a pig.
So you don't want to leave out commas altogether, or even go by the new rules if they obscure the meaning you intend.
But many, many people swing too far the other way.
I read this in "Utah State," an alumni mag, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2009, on page 9:
"Applause, for Craig Jessop, head of the music department and, since May 16, the theater department as well, who conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."
This sentence has a lot of problems. The first sentence in an article is supposed to introduce the topic of the article and lead you in. This does neither. The article is about a visit Donny Osmond made to USU for a benefit concert. So the sentence missed the topic altogether. It also is so complex that it doesn't lead you anywhere--a major flaw when the article already has the strike against readability of being printed in white text on a black page (a no-no for easy reading).
The main problem, though, boils down to a misplaced comma. Do you already know which one?
Yup, the first one.
As it stands, this is a fragment of a declarative sentence. "Applause" is the subject, followed by a bunch of clauses that modify each other but are what I call "disposable clauses"--they aren't necessary for the sentence to be understood. Take out all those disposable clauses, and you are left with this supposed sentence: "Applause." Not much of a sentence, is it?
BUT, if you remove that first comma, the sentence magically transforms into an imperative sentence (a command). Remove the disposable clauses and you get, "Applause for Craig Jessop." The rest of the sentence is still crap, and mostly still disposable (although the last clause is important to understand WHY we need applause for Craig Jessop). It's still not a good sentence, but at least there is sense in it this way.
There are actually several ways to fix this sentence:
"Applause for Craig Jessop, who conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."
"Applause, for Craig Jessop has conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."
Better, still, would be just to say: "Craig Jessop conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."
See how this final example is actually a stronger, more appealing sentence? It's a better lead in to the article and more likely to keep people reading despite the horrific page layout (white on black!!!) and unflattering photo of Donny Osmond and his dancers (with a bulldog cellist in the background who is both more sharply in focus than the star and clearly NOT amused by the act he has been forced to accompany--see a low-res version of the picture by hovering over "6. Headliners for Scholarships" here: http://www.utahstate.usu.edu/. Click the link for the article.)
Despite the fixability of the sentence, I would still scrap the whole thing and start over with a sentence that introduces the ACTUAL topic of the article (vs the ASSIGNED topic of the article which is alluded to in the first 2 paragraphs and then never really discussed.)