Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson

Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson

Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson was inspired at an early age to compose music, after hearing the music of Sibelius and Webern. In addition to classical music, other musical influences are African American gospel music and American jazz music. He was fortunate to have wonderful mentors, who inspired him to have a life in music. As a young man, he was fortunate to meet and have encouragement from such great artists as Ralph Ellison, the Great African American composer, William Grant Still, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman, and Jacqueline Du Pre. At the age of sixteen, he discovered the music of Iannis Xenakis and two years later, upon entering Indiana University, he became a student of Xenakis. He also studied composition with John Eaton, who had been a major influence on his life until his untimely death in 2015. Nelson also studied with Gunther Schuller and Jacob Druckman at the Berkshire Music Center-Tanglewood in 1974. At the same time, he was awarded the first John W. Work III Composer’s Fellowship.

From 1974 to 1981, Nelson lived in New York. His music was performed at Weil Recital Hall, Merken Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the 92nd. Street Y, The Whittney and Guggenheim Museum among other venues.

He has received commissions from the Oklahoma Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Dale Warland Singers, The Asko-Schoenberg Ensemble, The Kronos Quartet, The Jose Limon Dance Company, The Bern-Neufeld chamber Orchestra, the Suisa Foundation. And he has received grants from the National Endowement For the Arts, De Amsterdams fonds Voor Kunst, Fonds Voor Skeppende Tonkunst, The City of Biel, the Kanton of Bern, and Contrechamps ensemble, (Geneva). Nelson has lived in Biel Switzerland since 1994.

His works have also been performed in North and South America, Europe and Japan. He has composed works for music theatre, orchestra, choirs, chamber music, as well as works for free-improvisation ensembles. And he has worked for several years in the field of creative music education. He strongly believes that creativity should be a major part of every child’s education.

As a composer, Nelson works with improvised as well as fully composed music. The work Rotations IV 2017 for four improvisers and nine instruments (a music installation), was premiered in November 2017 in Biel, with the soloists, the drummer Hamid Drake and the bassist, William Parker.

His String Quartet no. 2 “Speakings”, was premiered on November 24, 2019, in Biel, by the Madblaster String Quartet. His most recent premiere was on November 15, 2020, at Das Instituit, where the pianist Martin Christ premiered his “Souvenirs” for solo piano.

In addition to being a composer and trumpet played, Nelson is also a writer. His most recent book “Words By Memory And Other Words” was published in October 2019.

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