Goals and Values

Our Mission Statement has some key words within it. “Unites” for example: the CU Wind Symphony is open to all Cornell University students, and most of our members have majors other than music.  Our current roster includes freshmen through doctoral candidates, from eight departments and colleges on campus.  The ensemble stimulates new friendships among a diverse group of individuals with a shared commitment to collaboration and excellent music making. We set the bar high and recognize the personal growth that results from working for and reaching new heights.

The ensemble tours whenever possible, and believes that a well constructed off-campus experience can be transformative for individual growth and ensemble synergy. We also value both local and global community service, and each year we seek projects and partners to help us realize service to others. 

Current Director

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 James’s 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 an album of concertos 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 is a contributing author of Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers (Scarecrow Press), and four volumes of Teaching Music Through Performance in Band (GIA Publications).  


Office: 237 Lincoln Hall, Cornell University Music, Ithaca, NY 14850
Email: jms862 {at} cornell(.)edu
Phone: (607) 255-7102

Past Directors

Click here to learn more about past conductors.


Click here to learn about your e-board and here to view the members of the ensemble.