Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen


Jeff Nelsen

Horn soloist and Indiana University professor Jeff Nelsen was not born fearless. Well ok, he was. We are all born fearless. While growing up, though, he learned to fear, just like the rest of us. Some fears are good for survival, so he continues to fear being hit by a snow plow. But Jeff has learned how to identify and replace the destructive fears that get in the way of doing our best during performance.

Imagine walking onstage full of optimism and looking around the hall thinking, "Hello! Welcome to my living room! Just relax…I got this. Please enjoy this wonderful music." Jeff lives and performs in this free state of selective naïveté, and he has become an expert in teaching others how to do this as well.

Jeff grew up on a pig farm in Western Canada with opera singing pig farming parents. He is married to mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen. Jeff can't seem to escape singers! These strong vocal influences on his music-making give Jeff his signature sound and singing approach to his teaching and horn playing.

Best known for his 8 years spent as the hornist for Canadian Brass, Jeff is in high demand as a fearless soloist, orchestral hornist, and pedagogue around the world. Jeff has performed concerti with orchestras and recitals in Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America. He has performed in the horn sections of the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and National (Kennedy Center, D.C.) Symphonies, the National Arts Center Orchestra, and the New York and Canadian Opera Companies. As a member of Canadian Brass, in addition to the hundreds of quintet recitals performed all over the world, Jeff has been featured with symphony orchestras including Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Toronto. Jeff was a full time member of the Montreal, Vancouver, and Winnipeg Symphonies.

A diverse performer, Nelsen has performed the complete run of two shows on Broadway and toured with popular entertainers including Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow. Jeff co-designed two orchestral pops shows featuring the horn; “Dancing and Romancing – An Evening with the Nelsens” sharing the stage with his wife,mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, and “Men in Brass – Bells Up!” partnering with trumpeter Mike Herriott. Jeff has an extensive discography ranging from film, TV, Broadway shows, video game soundtracks, pop and jazz music, solos, chamber, symphonic, and operatic repertoire. These recordings are on labels such as Sony Classical, Warner, Blue Note, London/Decca, Disney, Summit Records, C.B.C., and Opening Day Records. Intensely active as a soloist, chamber musician, and clinician, Mr. Nelsen has appeared at numerous international music festivals including Ravinia, Tanglewood, Grand Tetons, Blossom, Music Academy of the West, Banff, Brevard, Las Vegas, and St. Barthlélemy.

He has published articles focusing on "Fearlessness" in the magazines of the International Horn Society, the British Horn Society, and his debut publication, "Fearless Performance" is due for release soon. Mr. Nelsen is a Dieter Ottoperforming artist and clinician, performing on the Otto 180K-JN model, a horn he helped design. Aside from creating musical magic Jeff is an enthusiastic magician, and often adds touches of illusionary arts to performances. Jeff and Nina live in Bloomington Indiana with their 4-year-old adorable music-loving son, Rhys.



Jessie Thoman

As a product of Fearlessness, Jessie has gone on to win two university jobs in two years and has won many positions playing with professional orchestras, chamber groups, and is active as the hornist and co-founder of the Mirari Brass Quintet and solos with university and high school groups all over the United States. Her successes have earned her the opportunity to share her Fearlessness in lectures and masterclasses at schools, colleges, and universities all over the US and in Europe. Because of her first hand experience in going through Jeff’s Fearless Performance Training, Jessie is excited about empowering performers of all ages and disciplines to replace fear with trust and the belief that their best is possible at every opportunity just as she has done to great success.


Jessie is the Assistant Professor of Horn and Music History at the University of Tennessee Martin (having previously taught horn and chamber music at the University of Nevada Reno). Along with winning principal and section positions in professional orchestras, freelancing, performing with artists like Jeff Nelsen, Andre Watts, Leonard Slatkin, Michel Camilo, Sylvia McNair, Eric Ruske, Maureen McGovern and Byron Stripling, Jessie is also the co-founder of the Mirari Brass Quintet (www.miraribrass.com) which maintains a busy performing and touring schedule presenting masterclasses and recitals in public schools, colleges, universities, and performance halls all over the United States. The quintet receives much praise for their high level of performance, creative programming, and exuberant rapport with each other and their audiences.

Along with teaching at UT Martin, Jessie maintains an active private studio, coaches individuals and chamber groups, performs brass and Fearless clinics and masterclasses in public schools and universities, and is on faculty at the Ameropa Music Festival in Prague.

Jessie has earned degrees from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam (BM), The Ohio State University (MM, MA) and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (DM).

Known for her unabashed laugh and high energy, Jessie Thoman connects with people of all ages encouraging growth, improvement, and self-love that allow them to reach and fulfill their own dreams.

Visit her online at www.jessiethoman.com