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Michael Spencer : Pedagogical Artist

In his liturgical music for choirs, Michael Spencer has attempted to find and support the meaning of sacred texts with clarity and simplicity, using a musical language that is at once accessible and transcendent. 

Photo of Michael Spencer

Born in Sydney in 1964, Michael Spencer has been involved with choral music for most of his life, starting from the local church choir, led by organist David Rumsey, and the school choir, led by Mary Lopez AM. When studying at the Sydney Conservatorium, he found further inspiration in the chamber choir conducted by Richard Gill OAM. Traditional music was also a great interest and, after completing his degree, he travelled to Europe and Africa, living for a while in the Connemara, Ireland - where he learned to sing in the Irish sean-nos tradition - and in a village in the Gambia where he learned to play Mandinca drums. The influence of both these music traditions can be heard in his choral music.

Returning to Australia two years later, he worked as a tutor in Aural Skills and Keyboard Harmony at the Conservatorium and completed a Master of Music at UNSW, majoring in Ethnomusicology. However, it was not until he was handed the baton at Frensham by the legendary, blind organist and choirmaster Ian Cooper AM, that he began to compose liturgical music for the outstanding choirs at this boarding school in the Southern Highlands. Since then, he has produced a wide range of choral works including Founded on Grace, commissioned for the Frensham Centenary, a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass as well as other smaller choral works.

Michael Spencer is currently the Head of Music and Choirmaster at Frensham.

Michael Spencer — current to March 2016