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Angela Zator Nelson, associate principal timpani and section percussion, joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999 as the first female percussionist ever hired by the Orchestra. A native of the Chicago area, Ms. Nelson graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Music where she studied with James Ross and Patricia Dash of the Chicago Symphony and with marimba virtuoso Michael Burritt. While in Chicago, Ms. Nelson was principal percussion of the Civic Orchestra for three years. In 2001, she obtained a masters degree in music performance from Temple University, where her principal instructor was Alan Abel of The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Ms. Nelson is an active chamber musician with a forte in new music. She has premiered and recorded the first five George Crumb American Songbooks written for Orchestra 2001 and scored for four percussion, piano, and voice. The premieres took place at the Salzburg Music Festival, in Carnegie Hall, and in the Perelman Theater at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. Ms. Nelson also performs regularly with Network for New Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra Percussion Group. She has participated in numerous music festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Pacific Music Festival, the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, the Peninsula Music Festival, and the National Repertory Orchestra. As a marimba soloist, Ms. Nelson has performed with Temple University’s symphony, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, the Main Line Symphony, and the Philadelphia Classical Symphony.
As an educator, Ms. Nelson joined the faculty at Temple University as adjunct professor in 2001. She has given master classes to numerous students in grade school through college and has presented classes at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention.
Ms. Nelson and her husband, percussionist David Nelson, enjoy working as a percussion duo performing recitals and educational concerts for both children and adults. They are also part of the Bob Beach Trio performing blues, folk, and rock in local coffeehouses and regularly at Philadelphia’s World Café Live. The trio most recently recorded a demo album entitled Baby Please Don’t Go. Ms. Nelson is a Zildjian Performing Artist and endorses their cymbals.
Photo: Jessica Griffin