A native of Ann Arbor, James Nissen began his music studies on the trumpet at age 7. He attended the University of Michigan, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in organ, studying with Marilyn Mason. In 1984-1985 he studied organ, composition, and improvisation with Jean Langlais in Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship. In 1986 he studied organ and composition at the Music conservatory in Madrid, Spain. He then returned to the University of Michigan where he completed his Doctorate in organ.
Dr. Nissen has served as music director and conductor for the Michigan Youth Band, the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, the new American Music Theatre, and the Michigan choral Society. He serves on the Humanities faculty at Schoolcraft College and also teaches in the Music Department at the University of Michigan, Dearborn.
Nissen is a prolific composer, having composed numerous concert works for band, chorus, and organ. He is also Director of Music at the First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor.