I compose as a contribution to community. My aim is to bring people together through music. I work hard to communicate as directly as possible with listeners. I want to move people emotionally through the sound structures I create. My hope is that by telling a musical story, my work will strike a responsive chord in listeners who approach art with an open and attentive mind and heart.
I also view helping others to compose as part of my mission. I am passionate in my belief that anyone who wants to create music can do so and I've spent many years seeing the truth of that statement borne out with students of all ages.
Composer Erik Nielsen has created works for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, solo instruments, chamber music, works for dance, film and electronic music. His pieces have been performed all over the world by ensembles including A Far Cry, the Amabile, Chiara, Emerson and Ying String Quartets; the National Symphony Orchestra; the Killington and Manchester Chamber Players; Bread and Puppet Theater; the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble; Vermont Opera Theater, Vermont Symphony; Vermont Youth Orchestra and Village and Northern Harmony. He has won awards from ASCAP, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Vermont Music Teachers Association. In September 2015, his opera, A Fleeting Animal, a collaboration with poet/playwright David Budbill that premiered in 2000, was performed in a newly revised edition to great acclaim in six locations in Vermont.
Above - the cast of "A Fleeting Animal" takes a bow
Recent commissions include a film score for the 2019 Green Mountain Film Festival (premiered March 23, 2019 by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra and funded in part by a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council); a new work for chorus and brass or organ, All This Night Shrill Chanticleer, a commission from the Vermont professional chorus Counterpoint, premiered in December, 2018; a new work for the Northern Third Quartet, premiered in October, 2018 (funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation); A Voice in the Night, a four-movement work for bassoon and piano (funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council); Fanfare in B Flat, commissioned by the Vermont Symphony for their 80th anniversary; and Glimpses of Azure, commissioned by the Boston string orchestra, A Far Cry.
The Falling of Trees
Above is a complete performance of Erik's 2007 composition for piano quartet and baritone with poems by Erik's late brother, Lars Nielsen. The piece was originally created as a tribute to older brother, Karl Nielsen, who died in 1998 of brain cancer. This performance, by the Northern Third Quartet and baritone Thomas Beard, took place May 26, 2019 at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, Vermont at a special event honoring Lars' work as a writer. And a special thank-you goes to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, for his wonderful work as videographer!
Mr. Nielsen is Senior Composition Mentor with Music-COMP (formerly the Vermont MIDI Project). He also teaches music theory and composition with the Green Mountain Suzuki Institute, the Monteverdi School and privately, as well as music appreciation classes at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center. He was elected a Fellow by the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. Mr. Nielsen lives in Brookfield, Vermont.
A Psalm for a New Year
Above: a composition for SATB chorus and solo viola, with words by Erik's late brother, Lars Nielsen. The text is the final work he wrote before becoming ill from brain cancer in September, 2017. Erik wrote the music just after Lars died in June, 2018. This is the premiere performance, featuring the chamber chorus Les Voix de Mai, directed by Jessica Pierpont, with Elizabeth Reid playing viola. It took place at a special event honoring Lars' writing at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, Vermont on May 26, 2019. And a special thank-you again to Dennis Bathory-Kitsz.
This is a performance by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra of my score to the final two acts of Lotte Reiniger's 1926 silent film classic, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed". The performance took place as part of the concert "New Music at the Movies" that took place on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont. Anne Decker, the Music Director of the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, conducted. The project was a collaboration among the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, the Green Mountain Film Festival and Music-COMP (an online music composition resource for students).
Erik Nielsen teaches composition at Monteverdi Music School and is actively teaching composition lessons and music theory during the COVID pandemic. You'll find more information about Erik at https://www.eriknielsenmusic.com/.
Monteverdi Music School has been a center for music lessons and music activity in Central Vermont for 26 years, and now establishing its outreach to the online community!