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Assistant Professor, Director of Winds
James Spinazzola is an active conductor, ensemble clinician, saxophonist, and arranger. In addition to directing the Cornell wind ensemble program, James teaches undergraduate courses in music theory, coaches chamber music, teaches applied saxophone, and serves as faculty adviser to CU Winds, a student-driven organization devoted to the performance and promotion of wind band music.
Under his direction, the Cornell Wind Symphony performed at the 2018 Eastern Division conference of the College Band Directors National Association. The ensemble has premiered new works by David Maslanka, Christopher Rouse, and Dana Wilson, among others; and has collaborated with composers David Maslanka and Patrick Williams during on-campus residencies. James’s research in jazz performance and arranging has led to unique Wind Symphony performances of jazz and third-stream music. Recent concerts have featuring his arrangements of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with the Cornell Jazz Ensemble and guest saxophonist Joshua Redman, Patrick Williams’s An American Concerto with the composer conducting, and the music of Duke Ellington with A.D. White Professor-at-Large Wynton Marsalis.
In 2017 James led the Cornell Wind Symphony on an international service-learning tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, through which the ensemble partnered with the Holy Trinity School Music Port-au-Prince, the Carol Morgan International School in Santo Domingo, and members of the Yale Concert Band. The ensemble performed at the Kiosk Occide Jeanty, Port-au-Prince, as part of the 2010 Earthquake Commemoration led by provisional President Jocelerme Privert; and at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Palais Sans-Souci in Milot, Haiti, among other venues.
Prior to coming to Cornell, James was a tenured faculty member at the University of Indianapolis, where he served as associate professor of music and director of instrumental activities. Additional posts have included those as assistant professor of music at Tennessee Tech University, where he had the dual role of conducting the concert band and teaching applied saxophone. James has also held conducting and teaching positions with the New World Youth Philharmonic (IN), the Indianapolis Youth Wind Ensemble, and the Tennessee Governors’ School for the Arts. As a guest conductor, he has worked with numerous bands, orchestras, and jazz ensembles throughout the world; recent engagements included those with the Minnesota Honor Band, Georgia Honor Jazz Ensemble, University of Montana Orchestra, Duquesne University Wind Ensemble, and international schools in China, India, and the Dominican Republic. He also lectures frequently on a variety of topics, most recently on rehearsal pedagogy at the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic.
As a saxophonist, James has recorded a solo album for the Mark Custom label, Discovery: Standard and Emerging Works for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, and continues to perform in both jazz and classical venues. He is also a proficient arranger, and is published by Alfred Music, Boosey & Hawkes, and Subito Press. He has premiered original compositions with the Cornell Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, and Faculty Jazz Combo, and ensembles under direction have premiered his arrangements of works by John Adams, Steven Bryant, Tania León, Christopher Rouse, and Roberto Sierra.
James holds degrees from Duquesne University (BS), the University of Colorado (MM), and Louisiana State University (DMA). In addition to his musical and scholarly pursuits, he continues to study stringed instrument bowmaking, and enjoys making and repairing bows.
- Performance: wind ensembles
- Performance: conducting
- Performance: jazz saxophone
- Arranging and orchestration: full and chamber wind ensembles
- Teaching and rehearsal pedagogy