Gilbert Spencer is a bass/baritone and conductor specializing in new music and works from the Baroque Era and earlier. In the greater Washington area, he can be heard singing with the choirs at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington National Cathedral, and with other professional ensembles such as Cathedra, The Choir of St. John’s in the Village, The Folger Consort, Chantry, and Third Practice.
The 2019-20 season will see Gilbert join Washington’s premiere professional choral ensemble, The Thirteen, as their assistant conductor, working alongside Artistic Director Matthew Robertson. Additionally, he will work closely with Timothy McDonnell at the Catholic University of America, where they will create a unique professional chorus to serve the graduate students in choral conducting pursuing careers in choral music.
As a conductor, he has led world premieres of works by Jenny Olivia Johnson (“La Push”), Michael Rickelton (“Psalm”, “Rage Against the Dying of the Light”), Ledah Finck (“Somewhere”, “Still Moving”), and Frances Pollock (“On Living”). Additionally, he has prepared choruses for renowned film composer Hans Zimmer on his world tour in 2017, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Jack Everly.
As a soloist, Gilbert is frequently heard on the concert stage. He has concertized as a soloist with The Folger Consort, REBEL Baroque Ensemble and Owen Burdick, Musica Spira, Concert Artists of Baltimore, The Choir of St. David’s in Roland Park, Bach in West Baltimore and Theodore S. Davis, The Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, and The College Park Chorale. Recently he was in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, where he recorded a new opera by Jenny Olivia Johnson (release tba 2020). He has sung the premieres of works by David Lang, Michael Hersch, Tawnie Olsen, Jenny Olivia Johnson, Allan Laino, Michael McCarthy, Yuko Ohara, and Wolfgang Rihm.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, Gilbert studied voice with renowned pedagogue W. Stephen Smith, as well as concentrating on work in sound engineering and design and conducting. While in Chicago he worked closely with new-music visionary Donald Nally and his cutting-edge ensemble B.C.E., as well as Alan Darling of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Gilbert’s musical training extends beyond Northwestern to the historic boychoir tradition; he is an alumnus of the American Boychoir as well as the Choir of Men and Boys of St. Thomas Church 5th Avenue in New York City.
When not performing or studying music, Gilbert enjoys building instruments and collaborating with the artists at the Four Hour Day Lutherie in Baltimore.