Conductor and pianist, John Spencer IV, made his conducting debut in 2013 at the age of 23, leading a performance of La clemenza di Tito with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. Most recently, he served as conductor and music director for Bizet’s Carmen at Sarasota Opera in which his “brilliant” and “dynamite” performances gained critical attention.

This season, Spencer joins Theater Kiel as Solorepetitor mit Dirigierverpflichtung. He also returns to Sarasota Opera to serve as music director and pianist for their recital series. 

Spencer was a member of the music staff at Sarasota Opera between 2012 and 2017, where he served as both cover and assistant conductor to Victor DeRenzi and principal pianist/coach on nearly twenty productions. Until 2016, Sarasota Opera was completing its Verdi Cycle, performing every available note that Verdi wrote. As a result, Spencer worked on seven Verdi productions, prepared and performed numerous Verdi works, and assisted in extensive research at the American Institute of Verdi Studies in New York, becoming well acquainted with Verdi’s life, style, and canon.


In 2017, Spencer joined Des Moines Metro Opera as the associate/cover conductor to David Neely for Billy Budd, and conducted excerpts from Carmen and Die Meistersinger with orchestra. He subsequently returned in 2018 as the associate/cover conductor for Jonathan Dove’s Flight, conducting excerpts from Die Walküre with orchestra.


As a guest conductor, Spencer has conducted Carmen with Sarasota Opera, the 4-act version of Verdi’s Don Carlo with Vocal Productions NYC, Le nozze di Figaro and La traviata with dell’Arte Opera, and the NY premiere of a new opera titled From My Mother’s Mother by Jeeyoung Kim.


Spencer has served as a vocal coach and pianist for several years at New York University’s summer vocal courses. Fluent in Italian, he has also served as vocal coach at Westminster Choir College’s Florence Voice Program.


As a pianist, Spencer made his Lincoln Center debut in 2011, playing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the New York Choral Society at Alice Tully Hall. That same year, Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Studies from New York University where he studied with Artist Faculty member Anthony de Mare. Since his true passion is for vocal music, Spencer also studied collaborative piano under the direction of Dr. Grant Wenaus. While At NYU, Spencer served as the assistant musical director for two productions, accompanied numerous university choirs, performed extensively both in solo and chamber repertoire, and was a recital accompanist for vocal performance programs.