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Conductor Leonard Slatkin described Ron Nelson (b. 1929) thusly:  “Nelson is the quintessential American composer.  He has the ability to move between conservative and newer styles with ease.  The fact that he’s a little hard to categorize is what makes him interesting.”  This quality has helped Nelson gain wide recognition as a composer.  Nowhere are his works embraced more than in the band world, where he won the “triple crown” of composition prizes in 1993 for his Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H).  An Illinois native, Nelson received his composition training at the Eastman School of Music and went on to a distinguished career on the faculty of Brown University.

Nelson wrote Rocky Point Holiday in 1969 on a commission from the University of Minnesota Band for its Russian tour.  Its title comes from the place of its composition: Rocky Point, Rhode Island, where the composer was on vacation.  It was his first major wind band piece, and the first of his series of “holiday” themed compositions for band, all of which are popular and dramatic showpieces.  Rocky Point Holiday is notable for its transparent and colorful scoring.  This imaginative orchestration is a hallmark of Nelson’s style.

Ron Nelson’s website.

Ron Nelson on Wikipedia.

Review of Rocky Point Holiday on

Information on Rocky Point Holiday at the Wind Repertory Project.

A rousing performance or Rocky Point Holiday by the West Texas A&M University Wind Ensemble:

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