Dr. Mark A. Nelson taught for 39 years as a full-time music teacher in public schools, colleges, and universities. The second half of his career was at Pima Community College from 2000-2021 as a music instructor, Performing Arts Department Head (Dance, Music, Theater), PimaOnline Arts and Humanities Department Head, and Director of Bands. For the summer of 2016 to September 2016, he stepped into the role of (Acting) Dean of Arts and Humanities. He again stepped into an “assistant dean” role for the spring 2018 semester and the summer of 2018 and continued as Dean of Arts (Acting) for the fall 2018 semester. He then returned as Performing Arts Department Head until January 2020 when he begins as the PimaOnline Arts and Humanities Department Head before his retirement as a full time faculty member in May 2021. As a faculty member, Dr. Nelson conducted the PCC Wind Ensemble for 20 years, created and maintained the Electronic Music Laboratory where he taught the Introduction to Electronic Music courses, taught Music Fundamentals and Exploring Music online, tuba and euphonium studio instruction, and also conducted the pit orchestra for the annual musical through 2019. He continues to teach multiple sections of Music Fundamentals and Student Planning and Success courses online as an Adjunct Instructor. Prior to his appointment at Pima Community College, he was the Chair of Performing Arts and Director of Orchestras at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. He also performed as Principal Tubist with the Tempe Symphony Orchestra. From 1993-1998 he rose to the rank of Professor of Music (tenured) and Chair of Academic Studies at the School of Music of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois performing with the Millikin Brass Quintet, the Millikin-Decatur Symphony, and the Illinois Symphony. From 1984-1993 he was Associate Professor of Music (tenured), Director of Bands, and Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. While in Vermont, he was Principal Tubist of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Vermont Brass Quintet and the Vermont Town Brass. He began his teaching career as the strings and band instructor for Cherokee School (then a K-8 school) in the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Dr. Nelson holds the Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, the Licentiate Performer’s Diploma in Tuba from Trinity College of Music, London, the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, and the Master of Education degree in Administration and Planning from the University of Vermont. In addition to his degrees, he holds a valid Arizona K-12 teaching certificate in music and the Arizona lifetime community college teaching certificate.
Dr. Nelson has been a pioneer in the development of new solo literature for the tuba. He has commissioned and premiered over thirty new works and has appeared as a soloist, clinician, lecturer, and judge for many national and international music festivals in the United States, Austria, Canada, Japan, Australia, and England. His book, The Tuba as Solo Instrument: Composer Biographies, was published in 1995 by the Tuba-Euphonium Press. He was an editor for the definitive Tuba Source Book (first edition) published by Indiana University Press. He has a dozen tuba/euphonium ensemble arrangements published by Cimarron Music and Productions which now includes the Tuba-Euphonium Press. He has released two critically acclaimed CD recordings “New England Reveries,” and “Aboriginal Voices.” He has many articles published on a variety of music and education topics in the International Tuba Euphonium Association (ITEA) Journal, Music Educators Journal, Arizona Music News, Vermont Music Educators News, Illinois Music Educators Journal, and the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors Journal. He has also had published over two hundred fifty music and CD reviews in various journals. He was the Associate Editor of New Materials for the ITEA Journal for 26 years from 1990-2016, the Associate Editor for General News for 5 years from 1985-1990 and served on the Executive Board of ITEA as Secretary from 1995-1997. He has served on the ITEA Board of Directors since 2013. He also served four terms as Vice-President for Professional Development for the Arizona Music Educators Association 2005-2011 and 2013-2015. He was elected as the Vice-President for Collegiate/Research for 2015-2017. As a member of AMEA, Dr. Nelson was awarded the George C. Wilson Leadership Award in 2007 and the Excellence in Music Administration Award in 2011.
Dr. Nelson has been a guest conductor and adjudicator for many band and solo/ensemble festivals in Vermont, Illinois, and Arizona. He has conducted regional and district honor bands in several states. He was the principal writer of the New England Regional Solo Tuba and Euphonium list. Arizona festivals Dr. Nelson has been involved with include conducting the Northwest Regional High School Honor Band and the South Central Regional High School Honor Band. In addition, he has adjudicated for several Arizona Area High School Concert Festivals, the Arizona Pageant of Bands, the South Central Solo-Ensemble Festival, the SunCon Marching Band Invitational, the Flowing Wells Show of Shows Marching Band Festival, the I-19 Jazz Festival and the Coronado Middle School String Festival. In 2014, 2016, and again in 2019 he was an adjudicator for the Arizona Pageant of Bands as well as the Scottsdale Middle School Band Festival. He was the co-host of the International Tuba Euphonium Conference at the University of Arizona in 2010 and co-host of the Southwest Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference again at the University of Arizona in 2017. At the 2010 ITEC conference, Dr. Nelson was presented with the Clifford Bevan Award for Meritorious Work in Low Brass Scholarship. He is the founding music director and and served as the first conductor of the Northwest Intergenerational Community Orchestra (NICO) housed at the Coronado K-8 School in the Amphitheater School District from 2005-2011. It combines middle school, high school, community, and retired musicians into one orchestra that gives two concerts annually.
Dr. Nelson is an active performer as a soloist and chamber musician. He gave tuba recitals from 1976-2019 including annual recitals at Pima Community College from 2001-2019 often premiering a new work commissioned by him or as part of a consortium commission. He has presented solo recitals, master classes and performances in Australia, Austria, Canada, Dominican Republic, England and Japan as well as in many parts of the United States. Among many other venues, he presented a master class and recital at the Eastman School of Music in 2009. He was featured in the Pima Community College Speakers Series in November 2011. The topic was a lecture/performance on a 75 year retrospective history of the tuba as a solo instrument. He and Kelly Thomas (formerly at the University of Arizona) performed the James Grant Double Concerto for euphonium, tuba, and wind ensemble at the June 2012 International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Linz, Austria. He presented a recital and master class at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a master class at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in September, 2012. In May, 2014, he lead a panel discussion on careers for tuba and euphonium players at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference at Indiana University. In April 2015 he presented a recital at the Southwest Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference in Grants, New Mexico. The Spring 2015 issue of the International Tuba Euphonium Journal (vol. 42, No. 3) featured Dr. Nelson on the cover and with an interview about teaching, commissioning, and service to ITEA. Article. Cover. In June 2016 at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, he premiered Ann McGinty’s Hexagon, a collection of six works for the intermediate tubist or euphoniumist. In March, 2017, He and Matt Tropman, euphonium, with Marie Sierra, piano, premiered Adriana Isabel Figueroa Manas’ Dulce Infancia for euphonium, tuba, and piano at the Southwest Regional Tuba Euphonium conference. In a faculty recital in April 2018, he premiered the Sonata for Tuba and Piano by George Odam. He also performed three works by women composers he has premiered over the last 25 years at the International Women’s Brass Conference in May 2019 at Arizona State University.
He was a member of Symphonia, America’s only professional Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble and is on the Symphonia Fantastique CD recording which was nominated for two Grammy awards. He has also recorded the Sonata for Tuba and Piano by Carson Cooman on the CD Rising At Dawn featuring the brass chamber music of Carson Cooman. Over the years he has played and soloed with several community ensembles in the Tucson and Phoenix areas including the Arizona Symphonic Winds, Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Sonoran Winds, Civic Orchestra of Tucson, Catalina Chamber Orchestra (Tucson Chamber Orchestra), and the Southwest Brass. He has performed with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Tucson Pops Orchestra. He is currently a bass trombonist/tubist in big bands around Tucson and was appointed Principal Tubist of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra beginning with the 2017-2018 season.