John Nelson is one of the most versatile and accomplished conductors on the international scene. He is recognized throughout the world for his interpretations of the great romantic works, the Baroque repertoire, his vibrant approach to Mozart and Haydn and his enthusiasm for contemporary music.
A native of Costa Rica, John Nelson studied at the Julliard School, where he was awarded the Irving Berlin Prize for conducting. He has been musical director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theatre of Saint-Louis and the Caramoor Music Festival in New York. He was also the guest conductor for the Orchestre national de Lyon.
John Nelson has been musical director of the Ensemble orchestral de Paris since 1998. He has conducted in cities all over the world; in the United States with the New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, and Cleveland orchestras; in Europe – London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre national de France, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse. He has also performed in Asia.
John Nelson enjoys opera, which he conducted for the first time in New York in 1972, and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1974.
This enhanced his international reputation and led to his European debut at the Grand Théâtre de Genève with Berlioz’s Les Troyens and in France with Béatrice et Bénédict. He has subsequently conducted in some of the greatest opera houses in the world including the Chicago Lyric Opera, the Opera-Bastille, the Lyon and Rome Opera houses and the Monnaie de Bruxelles.
The great sacred masterpieces occupy a central place in his work. He has become famous for his interpretations of the major choral works. His commitment to this repertoire led him to found Soli Deo Gloria, an organisation that encourages composers and conductors to promote modern sacred music.
His list of recordings is rich and varied and he has worked with EMI, Virgin Classics, Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, BMG, Erato etc. Among the awards received for his latest recordings, are a “Grammy” for Handel’s Semele, a “Diapason d’or de l’année” for Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict and two “Victoires de la Musique classique” gained in 2004 with the Ensemble orchestral de Paris.
Since September 2008, John Nelson is emeritus musical director of the Ensemble orchestral de Paris.