Board & Staff

Photo of Sherry Nelson in a purple raincoat

Sherry Nelson
Board Member

Daughter of professional opera singers, Sherry Nelson’s musical birthright led her to a lifetime career presenting hundreds of performances by internationally acclaimed classical and jazz musicians for over 50 years.

As a UCLA music history major with access to student-priced tickets, attending many Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts motivated her to join the LA Philharmonic public relations staff with access to free tickets! Noted for her skills preparing Philharmonic programs led to a promotion, launching her career as Advertising Manager for Hollywood Bowl and Music Center concerts at age 24.

USC’s School of Performing Arts recruited her to be Director of Public Events to promote the School of Music, working with its notable faculty Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky; Division of Drama; School of Cinema-TV and KUSC-FM. Then a challenge of a new position as chief recruiter of superstar national merit scholar undergrads for the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences offered national travel with free time to enjoy concerts in great halls.

Discovering that Atlanta was building a new concert hall, and with the support of several Atlanta arts leaders who knew her work in Los Angeles, she applied and won the national search to become founding Executive & Artistic Director. Sherry soon established Spivey Hall as one of the world’s leading classical presenters. Spivey Hall live recordings became the most broadcast in America on National Public Radio. Spivey’s Education Programs won national recognition from the Kennedy Center and Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. With the installation of a world-class pipe organ, Sherry enticed the world’s top pipe organ competition to host American selection rounds in Spivey Hall. Her proudest achievement was to launch the Spivey Hall Children’s Choirs that have trained thousands of young singers for three decades. Sherry forged partnerships with Atlanta’s consular corps by co-sponsoring debuts of international emerging artists, thereby earning Spivey Hall recognition on the international map of prestigious venues. Before leaving her dream job to retire in Bellingham with her husband Dick, Sherry was honored to receive the German-American Friendship Award and was granted knighthood in accepting France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et des letters and title of Madame.

Sherry joined the Bellingham Festival Board in 2007 as vice-chair to contribute her skills to the new all-volunteer Board. The Nelsons enjoy international travel, especially visiting grandchildren from Hong Kong to Long Island, North Carolina, Dallas and California. Sherry’s daughter Susanna earned her UCLA music degree singing four leading opera roles within her first year. Susanna found greatest joy in marriage, becoming full-time mother of two beautiful children. Sherry delights in visiting her Southern California grandchildren, watching their love of music grow.