Conductor Jeffrey A. Spenner has been praised for his “sensitive and insightful musicianship”, “impeccable” score preparation, and “innate knowledge of what musicians need from the podium.” Musicians have lauded his clarity of technique and efficient rehearsals, and audiences applaud his “infectious” passion for music both on and off the podium. After a recent concert with Sinfonia da Camera and renowned piano soloist Ian Hobson, the Champaign-Urbana (IL) News-Gazette noted his "graceful and fluid gestures" and called him a "young conductor 'to the manner born' ".
Spenner is the Founder and Music Director of the Bay Area Summer Music Festival in his hometown of Essexville, Michigan. This week long educational event each summer provides musicians high school age and up to participate in rehearsals, concerts, and workshops led by Spenner and guest conductors, composers, and professional musicians. The festival has included a wind ensemble, chamber music, jazz band, jazz combo, and educational masterclasses. Past guests have included retired “President’s Own” Marine Band Director Timothy W. Foley, Indiana State University Director of Bands Roby G. George, and renowned composers David Gillingham and Catherine McMichael.
He is the Assistant Conductor of the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Rockford Community Orchestra in Michigan, and Music Director of the Borgess Hospital Resounding Spirit Choir.
He has also conducted ensembles such as the Bacau Philharmonic (Romania), Sinfonia da Camera (IL), Prairie Fire Theater Opera Company (IL), the Illinois Wind Symphony, University of Illinois Chamber Orchestra, University of Illinois Symphonic Band I, University of Illinois Opera Studio, and Centre College (KY) Orchestra. In 2011, Spenner was a finalist for a conducting position with the United States Army Band "Pershing's Own". His study of conducting has taken him around the United States as well as England, France, Germany, and Romania where he has worked with renowned conductors and members of such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony.
Spenner is currently the Orchestral Graduate Assistant Conductor at Western Michigan University where he is pursuing his Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Bruce Uchimura. He assists with and frequently conducts the WMU Symphony Orchestra both in rehearsal and performance, directs the WMU Campus Strings, and is the Artistic Director for the Western Michigan Repertoire Ensemble. In addition, he is an instructor for the Beginning Conducting course through the School of Music. Further conducting studies at WMU have been with Kimberly Dunn Adams, Scott Boerma, and Robert Spradling.
As Artistic and Education Coordinator for the Lexington Philharmonic (KY), Spenner oversaw all aspects of the LexPhil music library and educational programs while also assisting with artistic planning, concert production, community outreach, and internship coordination. His accomplishments included aligning LexPhil educational programs with Kentucky Department of Education curriculum and standards and writing several education guides tying into these and the Program of Studies, implementing and standardizing library procedures, re-cataloguing the orchestra’s entire sheet music collection, and creating new programs and partnerships. Other projects included lecturing on behalf of the orchestra, teaching and coordinating a life-long learning class, new initiatives such as the New Music Experiment, and presenting educational programs to all age levels.
An alumnus of the University of Illinois, Spenner studied trumpet performance with Ronald Romm, Jake Walburn, and the late Michael “Doc” Ewald. As an undergrad, he was a part of Donald Schleicher’s graduate level conducting seminar and he also undertook conducting studies with Eduardo Diazmuñoz, James F. Keene, Roby George, Ian Hobson, and Bob Yoon. His study of conducting has taken him to conferences, workshops, and auditions worldwide where he has worked with teachers such as Kenneth Kiesler, Timothy Mahr, and Timothy Reynish. Additional musical mentors include Kevin Cole, Timothy W. Foley, Raymond Harvey, David Lockington, and Scott Terrell.
While at Illinois, he served as Production Manager for Sinfonia da Camera for over four years. This position incorporated that of librarian and stage manager, and his tenure there included a two-week tour of China. Spenner was also an assistant librarian with the University of Illinois Bands for the duration of his undergraduate degree, assisting with the operations of the nation’s largest band program. In 2010, he created a program called “The Magic of Music brought to you by the Magic of Macy’s” which brought performances into the Champaign, IL Macy’s, coordinated and conducted by him.