Whether he’s writing a bittersweet ballad, a play about pugnacious pigeons, or a fugue of electronic fart sounds, Spencer Robelen covers a large spectrum of emotions with his work for the stage and screen. As a New York-based composer, lyricist, and playwright, Spencer excels at crafting musical and theatrical works rooted in both the inspiration of the human condition and the rapture of the absurd.
Originally from South Florida, Spencer grew up playing violin and singing in choirs. But he didn’t recognize his potential as a musical dramatist until high school, where he wrote a musical satire about his teachers and classmates…which was promptly banned by the school’s administration.
Spencer went on to receive his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where he studied with Dorothy Hindman. He also served as president of the Miami Chapter of the Society of Composers Incorporated, where he produced several concerts, fundraisers, and collaborative performances to help emerging composers network with other artists and share new music with the South Florida community.
Spencer later moved to New York City and received his Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied with numerous Tony Award-winners including William Finn, Rebecca Taichman, Rachel Sheinkin, and Steven Lutvak.
Since then, Spencer’s songs, musicals, and ballets have been heard in notable venues across New York City, including Birdland Jazz Club and the Green Room 42. His song, “Grandma’s Cooking,” written for Broadway star Devin Ilaw, debuted at Feinstein’s/54 Below and was later performed at the Catalina Jazz Club as part of A Little New Music, a concert series showcasing up-and-coming musical writers. “Open Air,” a notoriously catchy song he co-wrote with Erin J. Reifler, debuted Off-Broadway at Signature Theatre as part of the 2019 New York Musical Festival. The world premiere of Androids, his song cycle about robots learning to cope with human experiences, sold out the historic Duplex Cabaret in Greenwich Village.
Additionally, Spencer’s concert music and film scores have been performed by various ensembles across the world, including the Factory Arts Ensemble, Pulse Chamber Music, the Lunar Ensemble, the Frost Symphony Orchestra, and the Florida Youth Orchestra. His light-hearted, amphibious string quartet, Frog at the Pond, was selected for the 2013 Festival Miami Emerging Composers Concert, and his hauntingly beautiful choral piece, Like an Eagle, was a finalist in the highly competitive 2014 Chanticleer LAB Choir Composer Competition.
As a playwright, Spencer has received several honors for his one-act shows. His coming-of-age comedy, The Wheels Go Round and Round, is published by YouthPLAYS and has been performed in Canada and South Africa in addition to the U.S. He also wrote and produced several audio plays and musicals for his podcast Spencer Robelen Presents during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has appeared as a guest on other theatre podcasts including The 10glo Show and The Latest Draft.