Commander Adam Williamson, Director
Commander Adam Williamson serves as the seventh director of the United States Coast Guard Band, carrying out the Band’s missions of promoting public goodwill through unwavering dedication to the highest levels of musical performance, preserving and honoring the heritage, history, and traditions of the nation and service, and supporting official Coast Guard functions. CDR Williamson is responsible for the overall presentation of all Coast Guard Band activities, for maintaining the world-class stature of the 55-member ensemble, and for supporting hundreds of engagements annually.
Mr. Williamson originally joined the Coast Guard Band as tenor saxophonist in 2003, and was a featured soloist on multiple occasions, including the Band’s 2007 Southeast Tour and at notable venues such as Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra and Boston’s Hatch Shell. As a member of the Coast Guard Band Saxophone Quartet, he performed concerts and conducted masterclasses extensively throughout the US and abroad, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, numerous university schools of music, and throughout Taiwan and Japan. Mr. Williamson served in the saxophone section for 10 years before being named director, receiving a commission to Lieutenant Commander in October 2013.
As the leader of the sole official musical representative of the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard, CDR Williamson is the musical authority of the service. He frequently provides musical guidance for official functions and creates musical programs to advance the Coast Guard’s public affairs missions. In his time as director, Williamson has led the Coast Guard Band in performances for President Trump, President Obama, members of congress, DHS secretaries, and Coast Guard leadership. The Coast Guard Band performed for the 2015 National Tree Lighting in Washington D.C., sharing the stage with celebrities Reese Witherspoon, Trombone Shorty, and Andra Day, and marched in the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Parade
CDR Williamson is committed to supporting music education, and during his tenure has expanded the Coast Guard Band’s outreach programs, now reaching over 14,000 students in Connecticut and Washington D.C. He created the “American Composers Series” recordings to capture the musical language, sound, and aesthetic of living American composers, so far recording the works of Grammy-nominated composer Kenneth Fuchs, and up-and-comer Jess Langston Turner. His endeavor to engage a worldwide audience has led to extensive use of online and social media platforms, enabling the Coast Guard Band’s concerts and outreach activities to be broadcast to millions around the globe.
CDR Williamson earned musical degrees from the State University of New York, College at Potsdam, studying saxophone with Tim McAllister. He also began graduate studies at Indiana University with saxophonist Otis Murphy. He attended the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where he pursued studies in instrumental conducting with Glen Adsit and Edward Cumming. He currently resides in Connecticut with his wife and son. His wife, former Coast Guard Band Vocalist Lisa Williamson, maintains an active career as an in-demand lyric soprano.
Chief Warrant Officer Jeffrey A. Spenner, Assistant Director
Jeffrey A. Spenner joined the United States Coast Guard in June 2019 as the Assistant Director of the United States Coast Guard Band. As one of the two leaders in charge of U.S. Coast Guard Band, Mr. Spenner helps manage all aspects of the 55-member ensemble’s multifaceted mission – including concerts, ceremonies, recordings, and the band’s annual national tour.
A veteran of the 399th Army Band at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Mr. Spenner is the first conductor in the Coast Guard Band’s history to have been hired from outside the organization. While a member of the 399th Army Band, he took part in hundreds of performances throughout the Midwest as both a conductor and trumpeter, and his efforts were instrumental in developing an ongoing relationship between the 399th Band and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. His final performance in the Army was conducting on a concert at Powell Hall in St. Louis that combined the symphony’s winds, brass, and percussion with the 399th Army Band and the Air Force Band of Mid-America.
Previously, Mr. Spenner has been the Assistant Conductor and Operations Manager with the Battle Creek Symphony in Michigan and Artistic and Education Coordinator for the Lexington Philharmonic in Kentucky. An advocate for music making at all levels, he held music directorships with numerous community ensembles including the Borgess Hospital Resounding Spirit Choir. Mr. Spenner brings his passion for music education to the Coast Guard Band where he oversees all of the band’s education and outreach programs.
Originally from Essexville, Michigan, Mr. Spenner’s Bachelor of Music degree is from the University of Illinois, and he holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from Western Michigan University. In concert and selective workshops he conducted such ensembles as the Baltimore Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, Berlin Sinfonietta, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Filharmonica “Mihail Jora” Bacau, Fort Worth Symphony, Sinfonia da Camera, and members of the Berlin Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra of London. His primary teachers include Donald Schleicher, James F. Keene, Eduardo Diazmunoz, Bruce Uchimura, and Bob Yoon with additional study with Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Raymond Harvey, Mark Heron, Mihail Jurowski, Kenneth Kiesler, Timothy Reynish, Gerard Schwarz, Mark Stringer, Diane Wittry, and Benjamin Zander.
Mr. Spenner is married to Mira Shifrin Spenner, a professional flutist, and they enjoy geeking out over science fiction and playing board games together. They live in Norwich, Connecticut with their five cats - Voltaire, Gershwin, Brahms, Rousseau, and Apollo - who enjoy chasing laser pointers and stealing board game pieces.
Lewis J. Buckley, Conductor Laureate
Captain Lewis J. Buckley served as Director, U. S. Coast Guard Band, from June 1, 1975 through September 30, 2004. The Coast Guard Band’s fifth Director, he was the first to achieve the rank of Commander and then Captain, and he retired as the longest-tenured conductor of a major service band in American history. During his tenure, he and the Band’s dedicated senior leadership transformed the group from a local band that seldom performed far from the Coast Guard Academy into a major touring and broadcasting organization, representing the Coast Guard nationally and internationally through its live performances and media productions.
Captain Buckley guided the Coast Guard Band to a position of renown among the world’s most respected wind bands. During nearly 30 years under his baton, the Band established an international reputation for excellence through its superb recordings; by airing more live and recorded concert broadcasts on National Public Radio than any other U. S. wind band, military or civilian; and through hundreds of highly acclaimed live appearances, including those at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. He led the Band in seven Presidential Inaugurations and dozens of performances in Washington D.C, including four White House National Christmas Tree lightings and a rare performance on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He conducted for every American president from Gerald Ford through George W. Bush and for numerous international heads of state; led the Band’s first Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center appearances; worked with such diverse stars as Jim Nabors, Placido Domingo, and Walter Cronkite, among a great many others; and conducted the first concerts ever presented by an American service band in the Soviet Union, when the Coast Guard Band journeyed to then-Leningrad in 1989.
Upon his retirement, the Coast Guard awarded Captain Buckley the Legion of Merit, and the Coast Guard Band named him Conductor Laureate and endowed an annual invitation to a reknowned conductor, to be known as the Captain Lewis J. Buckley Guest Conductor.