Suzanne Nelsen grew up on a pig farm in Alberta, Canada in a home filled with the sounds of music; her parents were opera singers, and her siblings also became professional musicians. In 1995, during post-graduate study at McGill University, she won position with the Montreal Symphony where she stayed for five years until her appointment to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops in 2000. She has recorded numerous albums with both the Montreal and Boston Symphonies, five of which have won Grammy awards.
She was a founding member of the New England Bassoon Quartet and a member of Zephyr Winds, in residence at the Boston Conservatory. Nelsen has taught bassoon and chamber music at McGill University, Longy School of Music, Boston Conservatory, Boston University and at New England Conservatory. She was co-director of the bassoon seminar at Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) for four summers and was invited to teach at National Youth Orchestra of Canada in the summer of 2022. She is now a professor of bassoon at New England Conservatory.
As a mother of two, one of her favorite pastimes is lecture demonstrations for kids, students, and parents about life as a professional musician. She has made many educational videos for the Boston Symphony Orchestra that can be found on the BSO website.