Biography & News

Donald Spieth has built a multifaceted career as an outstanding conductor, orchestra builder, and educator. His imaginative programming and expressive performances have been met enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. The New York Times said “The Orchestra, led by Donald Spieth, played energetically, precisely and often sweetly.” Spieth came to Pennsylvania as a National Teaching Fellow at Moravian College where he is currently (2007 to present) Artist-in-Residence in music and is back as Conductor and Director of the Moravian College Community Orchestra (MCCO), an ensemble which he started in 1967 when first joining the Moravian College faculty. Spieth retired in 1984 as a tenured faculty to take a twenty-three year leave to pursue other conducting responsibilities.

Spieth has led highly acclaimed New York performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and he has collaborated with celebrated artists from Emanuel Ax and Joshua Bell to Sarah Chang, Pamela Frank, Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Lang Lang among many others. He has served as Music Director and Conductor (1981-2007) of the (LVCO) Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra (PA) for 26 seasons. He served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Monocacy Chamber Orchestra (MCO) at Lehigh University and is currently Guest Conductor at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem. Additionally, since 1984, Spieth has also been Adjunct Music Professor at Northampton Community College.

Maestro Spieth received the prestigious national American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) award for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music. In addition to his 2007 MCO recording featuring Paul Salerni’s “Dances and Fables” with text by Dana Gioia, he has made three internationally distributed recordings with LVCO on the Koch Records and the Albany Records labels. As an advocate for American music, Spieth, with his various orchestras, has premiered over fifty new orchestral works through the annual commissioning of local, national, and international composers.

A proponent of second and third performances, Spieth took a new work, Cold, Silent Snow, by eminent American composer Libby Larsen, commissioned and premiered by Spieth and the LVCO in Allentown (PA), performed the piece again at West Chester University, PA, and performed it a third time with the Columbus PRO MUSICA Chamber Orchestra in Ohio.

In April 2017, the MCCO under Spieth began a “Guest Soloist Series” featuring David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

In the 2017-2018 season, on November 12, the MCCO will feature celebrated violinist Pamela Frank and prominent cellist Peter Wiley playing the Brahms Double Concerto with Spieth conducting. Prior to that concert, on October 8, 2017, the Central Moravian Festival Choir and Orchestra led by Maestro Spieth with Rebecca Lepore, organ soloist, will perform Haydn’s Harmoniemesse and Haydn’s Organ Concerto in F major.

Donald Spieth began his formal training at the University of Iowa where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in music performance and literature. An accomplished performer on trumpet, Spieth has been a member of various orchestras and ensembles in the United States and of various performance tours throughout Europe. His primary conducting teachers have included James Dixon at Iowa and Sixten Ehrling at The Juilliard School.

Maestro Spieth has two sons; Stow resides in Philadelphia; Shawn and his family reside in Dallas, TX; three grandchildren, Jordan, Steven, and Ellen also live in Dallas. Additionally, he has two step children: Alexis Boylan and her partner Micki McElya who live in Cambridge, MA., and Gabriel Boylan and his wife Christine and their son Lonnie who live in Brooklyn, NY. He is married to Llyena Boylan, an arts administrator and consultant, and lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.