James Spinazzola is an active conductor, ensemble clinician, saxophonist, and arranger/composer.
James is currently wind ensemble director at Cornell, where his responsibilities also include chamber music coaching, and serving as faculty adviser to CU Winds, a student-driven organization devoted to the performance and promotion of wind band music.

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, University of South Carolina Festival Honor Band, Purdue University Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestra, Duquesne University Wind Ensemble, and American Schools in Shanghai. He also lectures frequently on a variety of topics, most recently on jazz arranging and composing at Shanghai Normal University.

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 he continues to perform in both jazz and classical venues. He is also a proficient arranger, and his publications include wind ensemble transcriptions of Roberto Sierra’s Montuno (Subito), and John Adams’s Lollapalooza (Boosey & Hawkes). He has premiered original compositions at Cornell for wind ensemble, orchestra, and jazz combo. Ensembles under his direction have premiered original or newly-transcribed works by John Adams, James Beckel, John Berners, Steven Bryant, Ching-chu Hu, Tania León, and Roberto Sierra, among others.

James is a contributing author of Women of Influence in Contemporary Music: Nine American Composers (Scarecrow), and five volumes of the popular Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series (GIA). In addition to his musical and scholarly pursuits, he enjoys making and repairing of stringed instrument bows.

Selected Upcoming Engagements


Shanghai Normal University: guest lecturer (jazz arranging & composition))
Cornell faculty saxophone recital (Ithaca, NY)
International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra: guest speaker (New York, NY)
Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic: guest lecturer (Chicago, IL)


American Embassy School, New Dehli, India: guest conductor, clinician, & saxophonist
Merrill/Garrity Quartet: guest saxophonist (Ithaca, NY)
College Band Directors National Association, Eastern Division Conference: presenter
Duquesne University Wind Ensemble @ Pennsylvania Music Educators Association: saxophone soloist
Ithaca College Summer Music Academy: guest conductor


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

Our Mission

CU Winds unites student musicians in an ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of emerging and traditional wind repertoire. We explore music making as a vehicle for cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, and in doing so support Cornell's core values of public engagement and global awareness.