Susan T. Nelson


Susan T. Nelson has been published since 1991 and has over 200 compositions in print with 22 different major publishers. Her compositions have been featured at many festivals such as the “Ring in Praise” seminars in Dunblane Cathedral, Scotland; Bay View Week of Handbells; 2011 Hong Kong Handbell Festival;  Distinctly Bronze East and West; and have been recorded by many ensembles, including Campanelli Handbell Ensemble, Tallinn, Estonia, and Handglockenchor, Hannover, Germany. Her arrangement of the “Brian Boru March” was used for a TV commercial in Estonia in 2010; and a radio interview and TV documentary in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2013. Commissions include writing original compositions for such prestigious groups as Embellish, Grand Rapids, MI; Michele Sharik, soloist; and Velocity Handbell Ensemble, Oakland, CA. Two of her compositions are currently on exhibit at the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum in Tallinn.

Ms. Nelson was invited to Estonia October 2013 to attend a concert consisting entirely of her works.  It is perhaps, the greatest honor a composer can receive!  Four handbell ensembles (40+ ringers): Campanelli, KellaRing Concert Ensemble, KellaRing Youth Ensemble, NoBell Laureates (Karolina Sepp, director), along with 15 instrumentalists performed under the baton of Inna Lai. The concert also served as her M.M. recital for the University of Valley Forge, supported by her nearly 200 page thesis: “A Ringing Evolution: An International Graduate Composition Recital.” This collaboration was featured in a commercial documentary film entitled “Unes või ilmsi” (“Dreaming Wide Awake”), by director Mairi Sõelsepp, and producer Anneli Ahven of Kopli Kinokompanii. The film premiered December 8, 2014 at the Artis Cinema theatre in Tallinn, and has been broadcast on Estonian and Russian TV numerous times. A full-length DVD of the documentary and concert was released in 2015.

Susan has a M.M. in Music Technology and Composition from University of Valley Forge, PA. She received her B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Rutgers University. She also studied with noted composers Dr. Scott Watson, Dr. William DeSanto, and Dr. Floyd Richmond at Valley Forge; and Philip Corner, Barbara Benary, and Daniel Goode at Rutgers. She received the 1999 AGEHR McKeehan Scholarship Award, and has received numerous ASCAPlus Awards. Susan has studied in master class with Donald Allured, Cynthia Dobrinski, and in seminars with Katsumi Kodama, and Kathleen Ebling-Shaw. Constantly pushing the envelope, she is always looking for inventive ways to enhance handbell literature.  

She has taught composition, orchestration, score study, music theory, and various handbell technique classes at workshops and Guild Festival Conferences; and has served as Historian on the Handbell Musicians of America Area II Executive Board. She has worked with children of all ages for 30+ years and is the author of “KidzRing™” an innovative series of books designed for very young ringers. Susan holds a New Jersey “Standard Teacher of Music” certificate.

A church musician since 1974, Ms. Nelson is employed as Director of Music at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Hamilton, NJ, where she serves as organist and directs a thriving vocal and handbell program.  Susan is also employed as a Technical Assistant at Talbott Library, Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ.  She has played piano, organ, harpsichord, handbells, recorder, guitar and flute professionally for 40 years.