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, including the Minnesota Honor Band, Georgia Honor Jazz Ensemble, and international schools in China, India, and the Dominican Republic. He also speaks 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 his work 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 and transcriptions of works by John Adams, Steven Bryant, Tania León, Christopher Rouse, and Roberto Sierra, among others. He is a contributing author of Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers (Scarecrow Press), and multiple volumes of the Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series (GIA).
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 studies stringed instrument bowmaking and enjoys making and repairing bows.
James Spinazzola is Wind Ensemble Director and Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Cornell University. In addition to directing the Cornell wind ensemble program, James teaches undergraduate courses in music theory, coaches chamber music, 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 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.
Charles Ives, Variations on "America" (1891)
Transcribed by William Rhodes
David Borden, Variations on America by Charles Ives as Heard on the Jingle Jangle Morning in Emerson Playground by You and the Signers of the United States Constitution (and maybe the FBI) (1968, rev. 2018)
Mark Winges - Breath & Hammers Piano Concerto (2017)
Blaise Bryski, piano
II. South of Midnight
III. Blurry Scurry
John Coltrane, Acknowledgement from A Love Supreme (1965)
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
Transcribed by James Spinazzola
Leonard Bernstein, Prologue from West Side Story (1957)
Arranged by Dave Grusin
Transcribed by James Spinazzola
Paul Merrill, trumpet
Leonard Bernstein, Overture to Candide (1956)
Transcribed by Clare Grundman
The Cornell University Wind Symphony comprises 58 student musicians, ranging from freshmen to doctoral candidates, from eight colleges and schools on campus. The ensemble has recently premiered new works by David Maslanka, Christopher Rouse, and Dana Wilson, and Mark Winges, among others; and has collaborated with composers David Maslanka and Patrick Williams during on-campus residencies. This year’s concerts included joint performances with the Cornell Klezmer Ensemble and the Oxford University Wind Orchestra, and premieres from Byron Adams (DMA ‘84) and Janice Macaulay (Ph.D. ‘86). These new works were commissioned in honor and memory of Professor Emeritus Karel Husa; the project will continue in May with a new work from Thomas Duffy (DMA ’86), and conclude next year with music by David Conte (MFA ’82), Brian Robison (MFA ’92), and Gregory Woodward (DMA ‘86).
Unique Wind Symphony performances of jazz and third-stream music have included conductor James Spinazzola’s new edition of Wynton Marsalis’s arrangement of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with guest saxophonist Joshua Redman, and Spinazzola’s arrangement of Patrick Williams’s An American Concerto. In March 2018 the ensemble will perform new arrangements of music by Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington with the Cornell Jazz Ensemble led by Paul Merrill and guest soloist Wynton Marsalis.
The Wind Symphony is committed to exploring music as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, and supporting Cornell's core values of public engagement and global awareness. In January 2017 the ensemble embarked on a seven-day service-learning tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Partners included the Holy Trinity School of Music in Port-au-Prince, the Carol Morgan International School in Santo Domingo, and members of the Yale Concert Band led by Thomas Duffy. The tour featured performances at the UNESCO World Heritage site Palais Sans-Souci, and the 2010 Earthquake Commemoration in Port-au-Prince.