Dr. Lee Nelson, Conductor
ABOUT THE WARTBURG CHOIR
Founded in 1937, the internationally acclaimed Wartburg Choir performs sacred music from all historical periods and styles and often collaborates with contemporary composers, including Elaine Hagenberg, Stacey V. Gibbs, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Abbie Betinis, Jake Runestad, Ola Gjeilo, and Kyle Pederson. Choir members are chosen by audition and represent various academic disciplines on campus. Wartburg Choir is a story of dedicated service and learning, told by scores of choir members who have truly learned what it means to be a servant leader. Their experiences create a rich testimony of the choir’s ongoing purpose and passion over the past 85 years.
Following the foundation started by F. Melius Christiansen and Dr. Edwin Liemohn, the Wartburg Choir honors America’s Lutheran choral tradition. The Wartburg Choir celebrates the unaccompanied performance style, annual tours, and maintains the importance of tradition by intentionally performing historical and modern masterworks, all while paving the way for the future of choral music through the performance of new compositions and uplifting emerging composers. The choir performs concert tours throughout the United States annually and travels abroad every three years during the college’s one-month May Term. At Wartburg, we believe music can embrace, heal, and connect people, uniquely inspiring individuals and the world around them. Ensemble tours are an important aspect of a Wartburg education. For more than 85 years, the choir has toured domestically and internationally, touring through United States, the District of Columbia, European countries, Scandinavia, South Africa, and three Canadian provinces. The Wartburg Choir represents one of the five vibrant choral ensembles offered through the music department.
The Wartburg Choir has received many honors in its 85-year history. The choir most recently was selected to perform at the 2022 Midwestern American Choral Directors Association conference. The Wartburg Choir was named national winner of The American Prize in Choral Performance (college/university division) in 2017. The choir has received several invitations to perform at the National ACDA conference, most recently in 2017, and the regional ACDA conferences. In January 2014, the Wartburg Choir worked with composer Morten Lauridsen, who lauded their performance of his O Magnum Mysterium as being “in the top echelon of any performance of that piece by any choir that I have ever heard.” In 2011, the choir was invited to perform at the White House for the “Holiday Concert Series” and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.MORE INFORMATION
DR. LEE NELSON, CONDUCTOR
Dr. Lee Nelson holds the Patricia R. Zahn Chair in choral conducting and serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Nelson conducts the Wartburg Choir and Ritterchor (tenor/bass choir) and teaches choral literature, beginning conducting and advanced conducting courses at Wartburg College. He also serves as the artistic director of Christmas with Wartburg, which celebrated 75 years in 2021. Wartburg College recognized Nelson’s work as an educator by awarding him the John O. Chellevold Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service.
Under Dr. Nelson’s direction, the Wartburg Choir has performed at multiple conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association, most recently at the 2022 Midwestern Regional Conferences, the 2017 National Conference, and a performance at both the White House and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The Wartburg Choir was honored as the national winners of The American Prize, College/University Choir Division in 2017. Nelson tours annually with the Wartburg Choir throughout the United States, as well as international tours every three years. On the most recent international tour, a television production of “The Wartburg Choir in Germany: Celebrating 500 years of Reformation” was taped and is being shown worldwide.
A highly sought-after conductor, clinician and adjudicator, Nelson has conducted at Carnegie Hall on multiple occasions and has directed all state and honor choirs throughout the United States and internationally. Earlier in his career, Nelson won the National ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition in Los Angeles and he received the Outstanding Young Choral Conductor of the Year, awarded by ACDA of Minnesota.
Dr. Lee Nelson is a distinguished conductor and educator of collaboration, leadership, and intentional empowerment of others. He seeks to embody the mission of Wartburg College and dedicates his teaching to service, leadership, faith, and learning. He is passionate about providing successful and meaningful musical experiences that enrich and empower students to lead lives of unselfish service to others, challenging them to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world. A champion of contemporary music, Nelson regularly commissions and performs new works of choral literature. ECS Publishing distributes the Lee Nelson Choral Series both nationally and internationally.