Nelson Kwei, the premier choral director of Singapore, is an international acclaimed conductor, conservatorium lecturer, editorial advisor, international adjudicator, music arranger and vocal clinician in the music scene. He is a Fellow from the London College of Music, has a Licentiate in singing from the Guildhall School of Music and Advance Post-Graduate in Choral Conducting from the Royal Academy of Music (London). In 2013, Nelson was specially elected to receive the Associateship from the Royal Academy of Music for his outstanding achievements in choral music. He currently holds the record in Singapore of garnering an unprecedented 254 gold, distinction awards and champion titles for Singapore. In 2018, Nelson led the NUSChoir to win the “Choir Of The World Award – Pavarotti Trophy” in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod becoming the first and only Singapore choir to achieve this honour.
A familiar figure in the local choral scene, Nelson started conducting at the tender age of 10 when he was selected to direct his school harmonica band, symphonic band and choir. It was the start of an illustrious career. As a student, he went on to conduct and sing for the Anglican High School Choir, the Temasek Junior College Choir and the National University of Singapore Choir. Upon graduation in 1985, he founded and conducted the Victoria Junior College Choir and Varsity Choral Ensemble.
In June 1990, the VJC Choir made history in the local music scene by being the first school choir to win an international choir competition at the Welsh Eisteddfod. Nelson’s conducting style and interpretation of music were highly commended by the distinguished panel of judges. Since then, He has led the Victoria Chorale, the Tampines Junior College Choir, The Amadeus Choral Society, the Victoria School Choir, the Catholic High School Choir and the Dunman High School Choir to clinch top prizes at international choral competitions such as Bournemouth Musicmakers International Competition Festival, Riva Del Garda Concorso Corale Internazionale, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod , International Choral Competition at Pohlhelm, Germany, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy International Choral Competition, Germany, Choir Olympic 2000, Austria, Hawaii International Choir Competition Festival and Pacific Basin Music Festival.
Nelson was also the first choral scholar from Singapore. He was awarded the prestigious scholarship in 1990 by the Ministry of Education resulting in a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Choral Conducting Studies for the Post-Graduate from the Royal Academy of Music in London. Upon his return, he was appointed as a Choral Project Officer with the ECA Centre, Ministry of Education. During his service with the Ministry of Education, Nelson had conducted many choral workshops for choir teachers and took charge of many national projects.
In 1993, Nelson was honoured with the “Singapore Youth Award”, the highest accolades for youths in Singapore, in recognition of his significant contribution in the field of choral art. In 1999, he was awarded with the “Culture Award” by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and in 2001, the Rotary Club honoured him as the “Ambassador of the Arts” for Singapore. In 2011, COMPASS Singapore has awarded Nelson with the prestigious "Meritorious Award" in view of his outstanding artistic achievement and contribution to the nation.
On the international level, Nelson won the prestigious “Outstanding Choral Director Award” 2 years in a row at the International Choral Competition in Germany, 1998 and 1999 and also the “Best Conductor Award” at the Petr Eben International Choral Competition in 2002 and 2004 in Prague. Between 2006 and 2008, he has led his choirs to 8 Gold Medals including 3 Choir Olympic Champions in the World Choir Games held in Bremen, Germany & Xiamen, China. His choir was also the first Asian choir to win the Grand Prize & Audience Prize at the prestigious Concorso Corale Internazionale held in Riva Del Garda, Italy. In 2008, he was also conferred the “Conductor Prize” in the 10th edition of the internationally-acclaimed choral competition.
In 2012, Nelson was once again presented with his 6th conducting prize in the 28th Franz-Schubert Choir Competition held in Vienna, Austria where he led Victoria Junior College Choir to attain 4 Gold awards and 2 Category Champion prizes. In 2013, he led the National University of Singapore Choir to achieve an unprecedented result of three 1st Prizes in the oldest choral competition in the world, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held in Wales, UK. Recently in 2015, he led the Victoria Junior College Choir to 4 Category Champion awards in Hoi An, Vietnam, cementing our nation’s status in the international choral arena.
In July 2016, Nelson and the NUS Choir were invited to participate in the Taipei International Choral Festival and also to perform in the National Concert Hall, the first choir from Singapore to be invited to this prestigious event. During the festival, Nelson also gave a lecture on Southeast Asian Choral Music for the participating conductors from around Asia. In December 2016, Nelson gave a special choral music interpretation workshop for the teachers at the Hong Kong Children’s Choir.
Presently, he is the Artistic Director of the “Singapore Choral Festival”, “A Voyage of Songs” and “Asia Cantate”, both are prominent international choral competitions and "Jubilate, Festival of Choirs".
Nelson is also invited as both clinician and adjudicator in many top international choral festivals and competitions including the World Choir Games Series. Currently, he is the conductor of many schools, colleges, university and semi-professional choirs in Singapore that has won numerous national and international accolades.