Nicholas R. Nelson

The growing website of composer and technologist Nicholas R. Nelson

Download Full CV Here

Biographical Sketch

Nicholas R. Nelson holds degrees from the University of Rochester and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York where his teachers have included Morton Subotnik, Jason Eckardt, David DelTredici and George Brunner. He has been in residence with numerous ensembles, including Ensemble Moto Perpetuo, the Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra under George Rothman and the ConTempo ensemble of Brooklyn College under Ursula Oppens, and has also collaborated with the Remarkable Theater Brigade under Monica Harte who produced the New York City premiere of his first opera, as well as the CYGNUS ensemble, The East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE) and Ensemble Moto Perpetuo. His pieces have been premiered on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the bi-annual International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music (SEAMUS) national conference in 2011, and most recently the "Etchings" festival in Auvillar, France.

As a sought-after technologist, Nelson has provided technological and musical design for Jason Eckardt, Kevin James of the [kaj] ensemble, John Eaton and Amir Shpilman of Ensemble Moto Perpetuo. In addition to electro-acoustic music, Nicholas also provides sound design for theater and film. Shows for which he has designed sound have appeared on the New York, New Orleans, Prague and Hong Kong Fringe Festivals, and the Big Apple Film and City View film festivals in New York City. Currently a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Nelson’s research interests include performer / electronics interaction, machine listening and interface design.


Works List

The Attitudes Passionnelles of the Iconographis Photographique de la Salpêtrière (2015)

Flute, Violoncello, Harp (7’)

Premiere: July 2015, Auvillar, France. Etchings Festival, by Ecce Ensemble

Included in Composers Forum syllabus for Fall 2015 at the Boston Conservatory.


How Many People Have to Remember you Before You’re Certain you Exist? (2015)

Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Live-Electronics, Video (10’)

Premiere: May 2015, Mise-en Music Festival, New York, by Ensemble mise-en.


This is the Female Form… (2014)

Amplified Speaking Flautist (10’)

Premiere: December 2014, Elebash Recital Hall, New York, NY

Further Performances in Berlin, Germany and Brooklyn, NY.


West Florissant, 2014 (the year they stopped caring who’s watching) (2014)

8 Voices (SSAATTBB), Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trombone, String Quartet (15’)

Premiere: November 2014, Goethe Institut, Boston by Ensemble Moto Perpetuo

Further Performances in Washington, DC and New York, NY.


The Fox: The Messenger of Mars (2014)

Solo Tenor Trombone, Live Electronics and Video (9’)

Premiere: July 2014, Bethaniënklooster, Amsterdam, NL as part of “Sounds after the Oil War.”

Further Performance in Schwaz, Austria on the Outlook Festival.


Pars Pro Toto (on the autotomic regeneration of G. Verdi’s Stabat Mater) (2013)

Tenor Trombone Solo, Fixed Media and Trombone Consort (9’)

Premiere: September 2013, Dimenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY

Further Performances by David Whitwell on a tour of American universities sponsored by Lätzsch Brass.


For the Love of a Wolf (2013)

Flute and Electronics. (8’)

Premiere: April 2013, International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival


Insomnia: A User’s Guide (2013)

Flute, Cello, Trumpet and Marimba. (9’)

Premiere: April 2013, Elebash Recital Hall by the Vigil Ensemble


Watching (2012)

Improvising Dancer, Microsoft Kinekt ,Max/MSP, various software synths, quad spatialization. (9’)

Premiere: November 2012, International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival


Betty Crocker Considers the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (alone in her kitchen with a bottle of chablis) (2012)

Flute, Cello, Violin, 2 Guitars, and Narrator/Actress (11’)

Premiere: May 2012, Elebash Recital Hall by the Cygnus Ensemble


Fellows (2012)

Tuba and Electronics. (5’)

Premiere: April 2012, International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival


Keeping Up with the Robots (2012)

Snare Drum and Electronics. (6’)

Premiere: April 2012 Exapno Brooklyn


Collective Improvisation #2 (2011)

4 Mixed Ensembles, 5 Laptops (13’)

Premiere: December 2012, DiMenna center for Classical Music by Ensemble Moto Perpetuo


Borne Back (2011)

Soprano, Tuba, Piano and Electronics. (8’)

Premiere: April 2011, Elebash Recital Hall


The Light over Brooklyn Looks like Sunrise (2011)

Chamber Orchestra. (9’)

Premiere: February 2011, Elebash Recital Hall, conducted by Whitney George


Situationist Theses on Traffic (2011)

Two Channel Fixed Media (4')

Premiere: January 2011, SEAMUS


How to Undress in Front of your Husband (2010)

Fixed Media/Video (25’)

Premiere: October 2010, The Tank (Manhattan)


302 (2010)

Opera for 3 singers, piano and electronics (25’)

Excerpts Premiered May 2010 


The Boy From the Gasworks (2009)

Cello, Live Electronics, Fixed Media (10')

Premiere: April 2010 by Seth Woods.


The Great Blue Heron (2009)

Two Channel Fixed Media (7')

Commissioned by Dance at Brooklyn College for Performance in March 2010.


Solipsisms for Solo Trombone (2009)

Trombone and Live Electronics (8')

Premiere: July 30, 2009, Monkeytown, Williamsburg, Brooklyn


Marathus/Pholoe (2009)

Mezzo-Soprano and Fixed Media (7'), from a text by Tibulus

Premiere: July 30, 2009, Monkeytown, Williamsburg, Brooklyn


Wait Until Morning (2009)

Suite of 3 pieces for Violin and Live Electronics (30' total)

Premiere: July 30, 2009, Monkeytown, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Individual movements performed on the March 2009 International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival and the December 2008 Composers Concert Series at Brooklyn College.


Points at Sky (2008)

Orchestra (12')

Premiere: April 2008.  Brooklyn College Orchestra under the direction of George Rothman.  


Specters of Mitch (2007)

Eight Channel Fixed Media (6')

Premiere: March 2008, Levinson Recital Hall, Brooklyn College, CUNY


Rite of Refusal (2007)

Electric Guitar and Improvised Sample Playback, Graphical Score (6')

Premiere: November 2007, International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival


FN@TAMS (2004)

String Quartet with Live Electronics (8')

Premiere: February 2009, Monkeytown, Williamsburg Brooklyn

Academic CV

Winter 2010:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 20 Students

Developed curriculum for and taught a general music course, covering musical terminology, the history of Western Art Music and the history of popular music with special emphasis on the socio-political factors influencing music-making in various times and places.

Spring 2011:

Music Technology Internship Supervision5 Students.

Supervised undergraduate Music Technology Interns in the production of on-campus concerts.

Fall 2011:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, Two sections of 40 Students each.

Winter 2012:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 20 Students.

Spring 2012:

Electro-Acoustic Music 2, 20 Students

The second course in the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music’s Electroacoustic music sequence, this course focuses on synthesis techniques and algorithmic music in Max/MSP, as well as techniques of interactive music in Max/MSP and Ableton Live. Graduate and undergraduate. 

Brooklyn Electronic Ensemble, 6 Members, Director

A listed chamber music course, the Brooklyn Electronic Ensemble is Brooklyn College’s interpretation of the “laptop orchestra.”  Incorporating laptop performance, handmade instruments, live processing of acoustic instruments, video and networked control structures, BEE interprets music from all eras, from Medieval to 21st century, through a technological lens, as well as drawing on Brooklyn College’s community of composers to further develop the repertoire for this young ensemble form.

Fall 2012:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 40 Students.

Introduction to Music Technology, 18 Students

Taught and developed curriculum for this course providing foundational skills for further exploration of music technology. Topics include recording and sequencing in Pro Tools, live sound applications, synthesis and sampling, and the technological and mathematical basis for digital audio.  Graduate and undergraduate. 

Brooklyn Electronic Ensemble, 12 Members, Director

Winter 2013:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 20 Students

Spring 2013:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 50 Students 

Introduction to Music Technology, 18 Students

Brooklyn Electronic Ensemble, 8 Members, Director

Fall 2013:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 50 Students 

Introduction to Music Technology, 18 Students

Spring 2014:

Music: Its Language, History and Culture, 50 Students 

Introduction to Music Technology, 18 Students

Fall 2014:

Introduction to Music Technology, 18 Students

Electro-Acoustic Music 1, 18 Students 

The first course in the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music’s Electroacoustic music sequence, this course focuses on fixed media composition and studio techniques. Students are introduced to psychoacoustics, sound collage, audio manipulation, and composing effectively with sound. Graduate and undergraduate.

Spring 2015:

Electro-Acoustic Music 2, 18 Students 

Fall 2015:

Electro-Acoustic Music 1, 14 Students 

Redesigned this offering of this class as a team-based learning class, focusing on in-class group activities and a “flipped classroom.”

Teaching Experience


2014–Present: Quantitative Reasoning Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

2010–Present: University Tuition Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

2010–2012: University Teaching Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center

2009–2010: Graduate Assistantship, Brooklyn College

2008: John Cage Award, for excellence in experimental music, Brooklyn College

1999-2003: Rush Rhees Scholarship, University of Rochester

Awards and Fellowships