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University of Central Oklahoma


Karl Nelson, D.M.A., has served as the director of Choral Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma since August 2006, where he oversees the choral program, directing the Concert Chorale and Chamber Swingers and teaching conducting courses. He also serves as advisor of Graduate Choral Conducting.

A student of Kenneth Fulton, Michael Butterman, Jindong Cai, Chester Alwes and Joe Grant, he earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His previous positions include director of Choral Activities at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana, William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and director of choirs at St. Joseph's Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Under the direction of Nelson, the UCO Concert Chorale toured throughout Italy in 2017, Brazil in 2014, highlighted by performances and lectures at the International Music Festival of Campina Grande, and Italy in 2008. The UCO Concert Chorale has also performed at the Oklahoma Music Educators Conference in 2019, 2016, 2012, 2010 and 2009, as well as the College Music Society National Conference in September 2010. He has served as clinician and adjudicator on numerous occasions, working at the grade school, high school, college, and community levels. In 2014 and 2012, he served as the guest clinician for the Central Oklahoma and Southwest Oklahoma All-Region Honor Choirs, respectively. Recently, he was selected as one of fourteen emergent choral directors from the United States to participate as a conducting fellow for the 2015 International Conducting Exchange Program in Sweden, sponsored by the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). As a member of ACDA, Nelson serves as the Southwest Division Repertoire and Resource Chair for Community Choirs and the Oklahoma Repertoire and Resource Chair for Church Music. Nelson has been a director of various church choirs, as well as musical director for several staged productions. In addition to his responsibilities at UCO, he also serves as the director for the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Chancel Choir. When not directing music, he loves woodworking, rock climbing, watching his beloved Chicago Cubs, and spending time with his loving wife, Jena, two children, and black lab, Wrigley.

Classes Taught

MPER 3111/5111  Concert Chorale

MPER 2181/5181  Chamber Singers

MUS 3102  Principles of Conducting

MUS 3512  Choral Conducting

MUS 4451  Advanced Choral Techniques

MUS 5022  Music for Small Vocal Ensemble

Education and Certifications

Doctor of Music Arts in Choral Conducting and Orchestral Conducting, Louisiana State University, 2005

Master of Music in Choral Conducting, Louisiana State University, 2001

Bachelor of Music in Music Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1996

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