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 185 gold or distinction awards and 79 champion titles for Singapore.
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 “National Youth Service Award”, the highest Youth Award 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” two years in a row at the International Choral Competition in Germany, 1998 & 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.
Presently, he is an executive member of the National Arts Council’s Advisory Board for Choral Development in Singapore and the NAC external assessor for music. Internationally, he is the First Vice-Chairman of the Asian Youth Choir Council, an international federation for choirs & conductors, as well as the Artistic Director of the “Singapore Choral Festival”, “A Voyage of Songs” and “Asia Canatae”, 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 9 schools, colleges, university and semi-professional choirs in Singapore that has won numerous national and international accolades.
Formed in 1980, The NUSChoir, a member of the NUS Centre For the Arts, comprises of NUS students and alumni who share a common passion for singing and choral music. The choir aims to promote choral music excellence, and to bring its music to audiences worldwide by performing in a wide spectrum of events.
This summer, The NUSChoir had the honour of being the cultural ambassador of Singapore and Asia at the Yale International Choral Festival (YICF) 2015 held in Yale University. The YICF aims to bring five outstanding choirs together to learn and explore the connections that choral music fosters between people. The choir also had the privilege of performing at the United Nations Headquarters, as well as the Singapore Consulate in New York City.
Under the baton of Prof. Nelson Kwei, Singapore’s premier choral director, The NUSChoir continues to embark on its journey, expanding its repertoire to encompass even more diverse and challenging choral works.
Victoria Junior College Choir & Victoria Chorale
Victoria Junior College Choir
The Victoria Junior College Choir is one of the most celebrated Singaporean school-based choirs in the international scene. 30 years on since its formation in 1985, Victoria Junior College Choir has established itself as a highly versatile choir under the baton of choral director, Professor Nelson Kwei, proudly presenting an extensive repertoire of choral pieces, which include majestic sacred pieces to dynamic folklore pieces from various cultures.
The Choir holds the impressive record of being the first in Singapore to win the Olympic World Choir Games Championship title - the most prestigious international choral award. In 2015, the Choir was awarded the Certificate of Distinction in the 2015 Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation. They also took part in the 4th Vietnam International Choir Competition held in Hoi An and achieved category champion in 4 different categories; Male Chorus, Female Chorus, Sacred Music and Mixed Choirs (Youth).
Started by Mr Nelson Kwei in 1988, Victoria Chorale is one of Singapore's top semi-professional choirs. Comprising graduates of Victoria School and Victoria Junior College, the choir performs an extensive repertoire ranging from sacred Latin works to contemporary Asian songs and light jazz.
Largely self-funded, the choir has been actively involved in the local and international choral scene. Besides staging annual concerts locally and performing Christmas carols at various hotels and venues every festive season, it has established a tradition of travelling extensively for performances and competitions.
From Llangollen in Wales, to Pohlheim in Germany and Bournemouth in England, it has won numerous prizes at many prestigious international competitions, including the inaugural Choir Olympics in Linz, Austria in 2000 and the World Choir Games in Xiamen, China in 2006.
Most recently in 2014, the Choir was invited by the acclaimed Sri Lankan vocal duo, The De Lanorolle Brothers to sing at the historical Lionel Wendt Theatre. The choir performed to a sold out audience and were featured on local radio.