Music Department Welcomes New Faculty Members

Meliisa White portrait.
guerra portrait.
robert carl.
Robert Carl portrait.
Breandan Lanighan performing.
sungmin shin.

Portraits, clockwise from top: Melissa White, Violin. George Caldwell, Jazz Performance. Brendan Lanighan, Trombone. Sungmin Shin, Guitar. 
Robert Carl, Composition. Stephan Guerra, Music Theory.

This semester will bring world-class faculty musicians from diverse backgrounds to students at the UB Department of Music

About New Faculty Members

Melissa White, Professor of Music,  is a founding member of the Harlem Quartet, first prize winner of the Sphinx Competition, and graduate of the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory of Music. She has enchanted audiences and critics around the world as both a soloist and a chamber musician. Her February 2020 performance with the National Philharmonic was deemed “absolutely breathtaking” by Maryland Theatre Guide critic Katie Gaab, who cited the “grace, precision, and warmth” of her playing in Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 1; reviewing the same concert for The Washington Post, Matthew Guerrieri called her “an excellent advocate, prioritizing ease and fluency over intensity, suiting the music’s lyric and episodic nature.” 

George Caldwell, Professor of Practicehails from Clarksdale, Mississippi. Recently inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, he leads a quintet of top-tier musicians performing original compositions and standards from the American songbook. A sampling of Caldwell's discography includes five discs with the Basie organization: 'The Count Basie Orchestra Live at El Morrocco', 'Basie's Bag', 'Joe Williams and The Count Basie Orchestra Live at Orchestra Hall', 'Jazzin' with Tito Puente, and 'The Count Basie Orchestra live at The Manchester Craftsmen's Guild w/ the New York Voices' (for which the band won a Grammy); his arrangements and original compositions were featured on Craig Bailey's 'A New Journey', Lewis Nash's 'Rhythm is My Business', Hank Crawford's 'South Central', and Bill Easley's 'First Call'. 

Caldwell studied at Memphis State University and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He was awarded a Ralph Bunche Fellowship for masters work at Rutgers University and has garnered many prestigious awards throughout his career.

Stephen Guerra, Assistant Clinical Professor and specialist in Brazilian choro, performs at music clubs and concert halls, cultural centers, universities, and guitar societies around the United States and Brazil, sharing the stage with Rogério Souza, Duo Violão, Ami Molinelli, and Tiago do Bandolim among others. He has spent years studying in Rio de Janeiro with legendary brothers Rogério Souza and Ronaldo do Bandolim (of Trio Madeira and Época de Ouro) and continues to visit regularly. Some of his published work includes: the album Choro in the Time of Bossa Nova with Duo Guerra/Morrow, Suíte Rio de Janeiro with Guitar Chamber Music Press, 10 Brazilian Choros Arranged for Classical Guitar Solo with Mel Bay, and a popular YouTube channel. Stephen has a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University. He has published various research articles about rhythm and meter in Latin-American African-diasporic music and teaches music at the University at Buffalo.

Sungmin Shin, Associate Professor of Practice, maintains a vigorous schedule divided between performing and teaching in a wide variety of musical settings. As a musician Mr. Shin finds a unique balance between his classical training and deep roots in rock and popular guitar styles. This combination drives his curiosity to seek new modes of expression through performance, improvisation, and composition. As a soloist and chamber musician, Sungmin embraces the eclectic demands of the modern musician through performing works in a wide range of styles including classical standards to inventive contemporary music and his own original works. A frequent collaborator with various musicians and ensembles, he is a current and founding member of the Eastman Guitar Quartet.

Robert Carl, 2022 visiting Slee professor, writes music that strives to create a sense of spaciousness, opens the listener to new possibilities of perception and openness. He received his musical training at Yale, Penn, and the University of Chicago. As an undergraduate, he was a history major, with a concentration on the late-19C south. He also studied in Paris during 1980-1 as a Lurcy Fellow at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. His teachers include Iannis Xenakis, Betsy Jolas, Ralph Shapey, George Rochberg, Jonathan Kramer, George Crumb, Richard Wernick, and Robert Morris. Mr. Carl received the 2016 Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; he received the Charles Ives Fellowship from the same organization in 1998. He has also received prizes and fellowships from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, American Chamber Symphony, NACUSA, and Tanglewood. He is the recipient of a 2005 Chamber Music America commission for a string quintet premiered by the Miami String Quartet and Robert Black, contrabass. An excerpt from his opera-in-progress Harmony (libretto by Russell Banks) was premiered in May 2006 at the New York City Opera’s VOX showcase series.

Brendan Lanighan, Adjunct Professor, is a native of Buffalo, New York. Trombonist and educator, he has begun to be recognized on the international stage. In 2017, Lanighan won the International Trombone Festival’s prestigious J.J. Johnson Jazz Solo Competition.

Want to learn more? Read our new faculty bios here