Robert Spillman, Professor Emeritus, was Chair of the piano faculty and Music Director of the Opera Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, receiving a BM degree and Performers Certificate in piano and a MA degree in music theory. He then studied with Artur Balsam and Sergius Kagan in New York City and accompanied rehearsals and performances of Porgy and Bess at the New York City Opera Company with William Warfield, Veronica Tyler and Robert Guilliaume. In 1964 he received a Fulbright Scholarship and moved with his family to Stuttgart, where he studied with Arno Erfurth (piano), Hermann Reutter (Lied), Hubert Giesen (accompanying) and Henk Badings (composition).
Shortly thereafter, he moved to West Berlin where he spent the next seven years. There he accompanied artists like Rita Streich, Barry McDaniel, Donald Grobe, James King, Lou Ann Wyckoff, Lucy Peacock, James Galway and Wolfgang Boettcher. He returned to the United States and joined the faculty at Eastman in 1973, where he coached opera and taught piano, accompanying and vocal literature.
Professor Spillman spent numerous summers at the Chautauqua Institution as a student, accompanist and coach and was Co-Director of the Opera Center at the Aspen Music Festival for many years. Activities as a member of the Artist Faculty of the Aspen Festival include teaching piano, opera, and languages, performing frequently on chamber concerts, and conducting opera presentations.
He has several compositions published through Edition Musicus. His textbook, The Art of Accompanying, was published by Schirmer Books in 1985, Sightreading at the Keyboard was published in 1990, and Poetry Into Song was published by Oxford University Press in 1995. A recent release, joining performances on Vox, Pro Arte, Musical Heritage and Mercury, is a recording of French Melodies with baritone Patrick Mason for Bridge Records. Mr. Spillman has remained active throughout the U.S. as accompanist for such artists as Jan DeGaetani, Sylvia Rosenberg, Yehuda Hanani, Paul Sperry, and Lucy Shelton and has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras. He is also busy as a clinician and teacher, working with both pianists and singers. His piano students have been honored with prizes in several national competitions, including 2 consecutive first prizes in the MTNA Collegiate Competition.
Professor Spillman received the Robert L Stearns Award of the Alumni Association of the University of Colorado in 2004 in recognition of his service and career. He resides in Lafayette, Colorado, and is active in volunteer work for the Open Space Programs of both Lafayette and the city of Boulder.
Since his official retirement from CU, Professor Spillman has been occasionally called back into active duty, replacing Professor Doris Lehnert when she was on leave, Spring of 2006 and Professor David Korevaar when he was on leave, Spring of 2009. He also conducted several rehearsals and performances of the CU Opera in the Summer in 2006, and guest-taught several classes in the Collaborative Piano program. He has been pianist-coach for CUNOW, a program bringing together important composers working who on new operas and CU students of voice, conducting, and composition.
Recent appearances include a concert and master classes at Emory University in March 2007, a concert, including a world premiere, at Montclair State University in March 2006, adjudicating the Artist Finals at the MTNA Convention in Toronto, March 2007, adjudicating the Pramberger Competition in Denver, May 2007, and teaching guest master classes for Opera Colorado, May 2007-2010. 2011 saw Spillman guest-conduct Die Fledermaus at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. In October of 2012 he performed Rhapsody in Blue with the CU Symphonic Band and in a solo recital in Broomfield, Colorado. In November of that year he was the accompanist for a touring production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in performances along the Front Range. 2014 saw concerts with singers in Denver and at Bucknell University.
Mr. Spillman has accompanied the singers competing in the Metropolitan Opera National Competition in Denver for the past six years, and in 2013 added providing the same service for the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition. He was also the pianist/music director for the Opera Theatre Singers of the University of Colorado, a group traveling the state performing for schools and civic groups.