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Last modified: Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Musician heaven:" IU horn faculty member rejoins the Canadian Brass

Aug. 8, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Internationally acclaimed hornist and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music faculty member Jeff Nelsen is adding to his impressive resume by rejoining hit brass quintet Canadian Brass.

Nelsen, who was a member of the world famous group from 2000 to 2004, will continue to teach at IU full-time while touring with the Canadian Brass. Nelsen's schedule is already filled with freelance performances, teaching IU students and writing a book about fearless auditioning. However, when the Canadian Brass called him and invited him to fill a vacant spot in the group, Nelsen couldn't say no.

"Being a part of the Canadian Brass is musician heaven," Nelsen said. "I lived as a performer for a very long time performing with orchestras and the Canadian Brass, and then I came to IU and I had the most intense teaching experience of my life. Canadian Brass is a huge part of who I am as a performer, and the blending of teaching and performing is perfect because I get to grow as a performer and bring that back to my students. The mixture of what I do meshes with my teaching, which is what my students are looking for."

Nelsen's eclectic career comprises a true cross-section of the music industry. He is equally successful in both classical and contemporary genres and in the roles of both musician and mentor. Nelsen teaches horn and chamber music, and he trains people in what he calls "Fearlessness" at the Jacobs School of Music. Earlier this summer, Nelsen performed in New York City in the Broadway show "The Pirate Queen." In the late fall, Nelsen will tour Germany for 10 days with the Canadian Brass.

When asked why he is remaining at IU after rejoining the Canadian Brass, Nelsen says, "I'm remaining here at IU because this is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done. Teaching 'pays it forward' in many very special ways. My job here is important because I get to grow while helping others to do the same. It's a beautiful sharing circle. I saw a person in a movie once say, 'The only two deathbed questions I will have are, 'Did I love well?' and 'Did I learn?' Teaching at IU fulfills both those life goals, and others, for me."

Nelsen's re-appointment to the Canadian Brass continues a long tradition in the Jacobs School in which faculty maintain a significant link to the world of international performance. Two examples are the Beaux Arts Trio, with Jacobs faculty pianist Menahem Pressler as the only founding member of the ensemble still active with the group, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, with Jacobs faculty members Jaime Laredo, violin, and Sharon Robinson, cello.

Nelsen has held positions in the Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg symphony orchestras. Among his other appearances as an orchestral performer are those with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony (Kennedy Center, D.C.), National Arts Center Orchestra, Edmonton, Calgary, and Quebec Symphonies, and the Canadian Opera Company. As a member of Canadian Brass -- in addition to the hundreds of quintet recitals performed all over the world -- Nelsen has been featured with countless symphony orchestras including Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle and St. Louis.

A Broadway performer, Nelsen has toured with popular entertainers including Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow. Nelsen's pops show "Dancing and Romancing: An Evening with Jeff Nelsen" for solo horn and orchestra recently premiered with rave reviews and is in demand on orchestral pops series across North America.

Nelsen has an extensive discography ranging from film, TV, Broadway show and video game soundtracks, pop and jazz music, solos, chamber, symphonic and operatic repertoire. These recordings are on labels such as Sony Classical, Warner, Blue Note, London/Decca, Disney, Summit Records, C.B.C. and Opening Day Records. Nelsen continues to attract rave reviews as a featured soloist on the Canadian Brass release "Magic Horn." This album was nominated for the 2006 Juno Award (Canadian equivalent to the Grammy Award) for "Best Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble."

Intensely active as a soloist, chamber musician and clinician, Nelsen has appeared at numerous international music festivals, including Ravinia, Tanglewood, Blossom, Music Academy of the West, Banff, Las Vegas and St. Barthlélemy.

Born and raised on a pig farm in rural Western Canada, Nelsen grew up surrounded by music. His parents, Ron and Diane, are both accomplished opera singers. His eldest sister, Lisa, resides in England where she is a freelance flutist while his sister Suzanne, a bassoonist, is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Aside from creating musical magic, Nelsen is an enthusiastic magician and often adds touches of illusionary arts to performances.

Prior to joining the faculty at Indiana University, Nelsen had been on faculty at the Universities of Toronto, British Columbia, Victoria and McGill University in Montreal. He has recurring articles focusing on "Fearlessness" in the magazines for the International Horn Society and the British Horn Society and his debut publication, "Fearless Auditioning -- Making Simple Easier," is due for release in 2008. Nelsen is a Yamaha performing artist and clinician.