John Nelson made his professional opera debut at the New York City Opera in Carmen and his Metropolitan Opera debut stepping in at short notice to replace an ill Rafael Kubelic in Berlioz Les Troyens. It was this occasion that catapulted him into the limelight and led to his European debut at Geneva Grand Theatre for Les Troyens and his French debut at the Berlioz Festival in Lyon for a production of Beatrice and Benedict.
Central to John Nelson’s work is the interpretation of the great sacred choral literature for which he is renowned. His commitment to this repertoire, and his concern for the lack of 20th and 21st century sacred works, led him to found Soli Deo Gloria, a non-profit organization which encourages composers and conductors to promote great sacred works in our time.
John Nelson has conducted many of the world's great orchestras including the Academia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Boston Symphony, Cleveland, Dresden Staatskappelle, Gurzenich Orchestra Cologne, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Philharmonic, Los Angeles Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony.
He has worked extensively with such companies as the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bastille Opera, Geneva Grand Theatre, Lyon Opera, Rome Opera, La Monnaie, Netherlands Opera and Welsh National Opera.
Recent and future engagements include Boston Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Cincinnati Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras, and at Geneva Opera, Der Freischutz and Damnation of Faust, and The Trojans at Netherlands Opera.
He has recently conducted concerts and a DVD recording of Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the chorus of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. This marked the start of a series of DVD recordings and concerts over the next few seasons including The Creation and St. Matthew Passion, both of which will be with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and Netherlands Radio Choir.