Glen Nelson

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Glen Nelson is an American poet, librettist, publisher, writer, and a ghostwriter of several New York Times nonfiction bestsellers. He wrote the libretto for The Book of Gold, an opera about Joseph Smith publishing the Book of Mormon. He is the founder of New York City's Mormon Artists Group and cofounder of the Mormon Arts Center. He has written several nonfiction books that focus on Mormon artists.

Writing career[edit]

Nelson is a graduate of New York University, where he studied James Joyce.[1] Nelson has collaborated with Murray Boren on the following operas, cantatas, and song cycles. He wrote the libretto for an Easter cantata in 1991.[2] He wrote the libretto for a one-act opera adaptation of Joyce's Dubliners entitled The Dead which was staged in 1993.[3] He wrote the poetry for the song cycles Coney Island Songs and Pop Art Songs in 1995.[4] That same year he wrote the poetry for the cantata Jesus, Lay Your Sleeping Head: A Cantata for the Christmas Season.[5] He was the librettist for The Singer's Romance (1998[6]), an opera based on the stories of Willa Cather. Nelson has also worked with other artists. He collaborated with composer David Fletcher on the song cycle Joseph Smith's Letters from Prison, which was performed in 2001.[7] He has collaborated with Royce Twitchell on children's songs.[8][9]

In 2005, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) commissioned Nelson to write the libretto for an opera about Joseph Smith. He researched nineteenth-century literature in order to make the play's dialogue more authentic, and used events from historical records for the opera's plot. The play focuses on Smith's attempts to publish the Book of Mormon, and includes Smith translating the plates with a seer stone in a hat.[1] Murray Boren composed the music for the opera, which was directed by Kory Katseanes.[8] In 2001, Nelson's daughter had been hospitalized with a brain tumor,[10] which Nelson said helped him identify with Joseph Smith's experience of worrying about his children's health and trying to publish a book; this inspired him to set the opera in the time Smith was trying to publish the Book of Mormon.[1] Also in 2005, Nelson collaborated with David Fletcher on the song cycle Articles of Faith.[11]

Nelson edited a collection of personal essays by fellow Mormons in New York in 2002.[12] He wrote the production script for Fictionist's rock opera The Bridge, which he based on Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge".[13] The Bridge premiered in 2016.[13] Nelson has also ghostwritten several New York Times nonfiction bestsellers.[14]

Mormon arts[edit]

Nelson founded the Mormon Arts Group in 1999.[15] The group has published books and limited edition artworks, with some commercial publications. In 2010 they did 18 projects with 86 different artists.[1]

Nelson and his wife Marcia started collecting artworks from friends after they married in 1986. Gradually, they made more purchases of Mormon artwork. In 2013, they published a book of their collection of more than 150 works through the Mormon Artists Group, including short biographies of the artists.[16] They published a second edition in 2016.[16]

In 2015, Nelson was a juror in the 10th annual International Art Competition for the LDS church.[17]

Mormon Arts Center[edit]

Nelson and Richard Bushman co-founded the Mormon Arts Center and Mormon Arts Center Festival.[18] The first festival was held in 2017 and included, among other events, a keynote address from Terryl Givens[19] and a sing-along with Craig Jessop.[18] Laura Hurtado curated an art show of 23 artworks from the LDS Church's permanent collection, including works by Jorge Cocco Santángelo, Annie Poon, and Brian Kershisnik. Givens said the festival was "a seminal event in Mormonism's coming of age artistically".[20] Dieter F. Uchtdorf attended with his wife Harriet and their daughter Antje, who are on the advisory board for the center.[21] Nelson is developing a database of Mormon composers and their works.[22] In 2018, he curated a collection of Hildebrando de Melo's art for an exhibition at the Mormon Arts Center Festival.[23][24]

Musical works[edit]

Nelson wrote the lyrics for the following works:

  • Cantata No. 14 (1991)
  • The Dead (1993)
  • Coney Island Songs (1995)
  • Pop Art Songs (1995)
  • Jesus, Lay Your Sleeping Head: A Cantata for the Christmas Season (1995)
  • The Singer's Romance (1998)
  • Joseph Smith's Letters from Prison (2001)
  • The Book of Gold (2005)


  • Silent Notes Taken: Personal Essays by Mormon New Yorkers (2002)[12]
  • Mormons at the Met (2012) - illustrations by Annie Poon[25]
  • The Glen and Marcia Nelson Collection of Mormon Art (2013; 2nd edition in 2016) [16]
  • Joseph Paul Vorst (2017)[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Astle, Randy (May 2010). "Glen Nelson". Mormon Artist. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  2. ^ Boren, Murray; Nelson, Glen (1991). "Cantata no. 14: Easter".
  3. ^ Fargnoli, A. Nicholas; Gillespie, Michael Patrick (1995). James Joyce A to Z : the essential reference to the life and work. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 245. ISBN 9780195110296.
  4. ^ "CONCERT CALENDAR". 12 February 1995. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  5. ^ Boren, Murray; Nelson, Glen (1995). "Jesus, lay your sleeping head: a cantata for the Christmas season".
  6. ^ "New opera, 'The Singers Romance' debuts at BYU - The Daily Universe". The Daily Universe. Brigham Young University. 21 September 1998.
  7. ^ "LDS artists to host benefit gala in N.Y." 8 April 2001. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b Program notes Archived 22 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "LDS artists to host benefit gala in N.Y." 8 April 2001.
  10. ^ Nelson, Glen (2006). "Mormon Artists Group: Adventures in the Making" (PDF). Dialogue. 39 (3): 118.
  11. ^ Nelson, Glen. "About". Mormon Artists Group. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b Nelson, Glen, ed. (2002). Silent notes taken: Personal Essays by Mormon New Yorkers. New York: Mormon Arts and Letters. ISBN 978-0850510102.
  13. ^ a b Howard, CreelaBelle (30 November 2015). "Andrew and Stuart Maxfield "Bridge" the gap between musical theatre and Fictionist - The Daily Universe". The Daily Universe. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Glen Nelson". Harold B. Lee Library. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  15. ^ Fidel, Steve (4 December 2008). "Mormon Artists Group develops outlet, community". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b c Nelson, Glen (2016). The Glen and Marcia Nelson Collection of Mormon Art. Mormon Artists Group. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  17. ^ Infanger, Garrick. "Glen Nelson: A Mormon Art Juror". The Krakens. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  18. ^ a b Mikita, Carole (5 July 2017). "Mormon Arts Center Festival helps try to answer question 'What is Mormon art?'". KSL. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  19. ^ Tolk, Madeleine (27 June 2017). "First-Ever Mormon Arts Festival Set to Open in New York". LDS Living. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  20. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (1 July 2017). "Mormon art hits the big time, seeks permanent slice of the Big Apple". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  21. ^ Manzhos, Mariya (5 July 2017). "The future of Mormon art? Scholars and artists gather in New York to explore the possibilities". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  22. ^ Christensen, Micah. "Richard Bushman & Glen Nelson discuss the Mormon Arts Center Festival". Zion Art Society. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Hildebrando de Melo expõe na galeria da Universidade de Brigham Young - Lazer e Cultura - Angola Press - ANGOP" (in Portuguese). 26 July 2018.
  24. ^ De Melo, Hildebrando (15 July 2018). "Hildebrando de Melo Interview with Glen Nelson". YouTube. Mormon Arts Center. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  25. ^ Jepson, Theric (14 September 2012). "Mormons at the Met". A Motley Vision. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  26. ^ Nelson, Glen Almon (2017). Joseph Paul Vorst. New York, New York: Mormon Artists Group. ISBN 9780692950227.

External links[edit]