Nelson Huber: July 10, 1949 – September 18, 2022

By Montecito Journal   |   October 4, 2022

Nelson Huber came here for one purpose: To make music. For him, music was a sacrament capable of healing us and lifting us out of the ordinary and into the sublime. The term sui generis – in a class by himself – does not even begin to describe him.

He tells the story of his discovery of music in the following way: At the age of sixteen, he sat down at the piano and the music came rushing out of him. It was as if it was coming through him, not from him. His fingers just knew where to go.

Nelson lived for beauty. He collected crystals because their unique, timeless quality mirrored something ineffable inside him. He loved cultivating roses and luxuriated in their primal, delicate sensuality. When asked what he imagined heaven might be like he said, “An English garden in full bloom.”

One of his most cherished memories was falling asleep on a secluded beach in Hawaii, then waking up completely surrounded by giant sea turtles.

Nelson saw God’s face in manifest creation. Whether it was the thunderous drum of the ocean as it met the shore, or the flawless Fibonacci sequence of a nautilus shell, he saw what most others could not see. An exalted piece of music would make him weep with joy. A well-crafted film was like a Tarte Tatin, that magnificent French creation consisting of an upside-down fruit pastry that’s traditionally made with caramelized apples and puff pastry. Art fed his soul.

Though he loved Christ, he was fascinated by the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. In fact, he did his master’s thesis in choral conducting referencing Taoist principles. In particular, he was inspired by the notion that alignment with the natural order creates harmony and meaning. He was intrigued by the Taoist concept of wu wei – sometimes incorrectly translated as “non action.” What it really means is “the absence of superfluous action.” This was the secret of his gift. He instinctively knew the precise formula for creating music that transports the listener — not too much, nor too little.

Wherever he chose to play, he filled the space with a deep and penetrating light made of sound. His music lit the path so that we could find our way home.

As awe inspiring as his musical gifts were, his bold, spontaneous personality concealed his shy, introverted nature. He identified with the Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, a gorgeous, exotic creature that is essentially solitary. Although he was at home with solitude, he found profound joy in connecting with pure beings who seemed to recognize and love him unconditionally – most notably, his “niece” Lauren’s baby boy, Kasper, with whom he yearned to spend more time.

Nelson gratefully spent much of the latter portion of his life with his closest and dearest friend, Vicki Archer. She has been the truest and most loyal family to him, just as he was to her.

Though Nelson was an introvert by nature, he had many friends across the globe. You know who you are. He requested that some special colleagues be acknowledged:

Val Underwood, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival

Emma Lou Diemer, Marilyn Skiold, Josephine Brummel, Julie Neufeld, Gary Smith, Erin Bonski-Evans, Jacqueline Greenshields, Steven Thomson, Temmo Korisheli, Kristen Dittman, Mary Dombek, Christine Hollinger, Ed Thompson, and all of the wonderful, creative people with whom he shared a love of music.

On Sunday, September 18th, 2022, Nelson peacefully joined (perhaps to conduct?) the Heavenly choir of angels. We shall miss him along with his inimitable musical improvisations, and all that he brought to every occasion for which he was asked to play.

To truly understand Nelson’s tender heart, here are some of his final words:

“I feel the Cosmic Love falling all around me, through me and from me. I am one with It, as It is with me. At last, dancing.”

If anyone feels inclined to donate in his memory, he requested that the offering be sent to: 

Hawaii Performing Arts Festival

Irma Singer, HPAF Director of Finance
Nelson Huber Scholarship Fund
340 Old Mill Road, Space 266
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

A memorial will be held for Nelson on October 1, 2022, at 1 pm at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105


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