Nathan Cornelius pursues a multifaceted career in performance, composition, and teaching.
A fearless guitarist committed to expanding audiences’ horizons, he anchors his prolific repertoire around music of our time, championing new works emerging from recent decades and commanding a hearing. He has been recognized for his solo, chamber, and concerto playing with numerous awards, including at least one competition first prize in each discipline. He earned his master’s degree under legendary pedagogues Ricardo Iznaola and Jonathan Leathwood at the University of Denver, where the faculty awarded him Outstanding Recital three times and voted him the school’s Outstanding Graduate Student in Performance in 2015. His recent performances and research explore how modern and postmodern music articulates cultural conceptions of time and memory through intertextuality with works of the Western tradition, and of space, place, and diversity through synthesis of elements from multiple cultural traditions.
As a composer, Cornelius searches for the hidden beauty in sounds both fresh and familiar, opening listeners’ ears to new colors, textures, and ultimately, new ways of hearing. He is the co-founder and executive director of Nebula Ensemble, a group dedicated to creating and performing innovative and interdisciplinary chamber music throughout Colorado. His compositions have also been premiered by Wet Ink Ensemble, the Playground Ensemble, the Lamont Symphony Orchestra, and Modern Hue. Recently, he has presented his works in composers’ forums at the Walden School, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and the USA International Harp Competition.
Cornelius holds a B. Mus. in guitar performance from Bethel University and an M. M. in composition and guitar performance from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. He is currently a graduate assistant at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he is pursuing a D.M.A. in guitar performance and an M.M. in music theory pedagogy. His current pedagogical research explores the application of music cognition principles to classroom practice in ear training. He also holds a fellowship in the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts at Valparaiso University.
Cornelius is deeply interested in the connections between music and the visual arts as they embody the values of a civilization, and he seeks to compose music that both reflects his Christian faith and expands the imagination of the culture. He blogs about new music and his compositional philosophy at deformingprisms.wordpress.com and displays his original ceramic works at Significant Forms Ceramics on Etsy. When not testing the limits of the hands, ears, or mind, he enjoys doing so with the body. An avid (and slightly competitive) hiker, runner, and eater, he is one of the few Baltimoreans to finish both the Baltimore Marathon and the Baltimore Pumpkin Pie-Eating Contest.