campus news

UB to host inaugural international guitar festival

Students playing guitars.

Among the UB guitar students planning to attend the Buffalo International Guitar Festival are Matthew Nastro (left) and Jackson Rotella (second from left). Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published March 1, 2024

Sungmin Shin holding his guitar.
“The theme of this inaugural event is ‘Celebrating Buffalo,’ and we will celebrate the rich history of the guitar in Buffalo, as well as current guitar personalities in the Buffalo area. ”
Sungmin Shin, associate professor, Department of Music, and artistic director
Buffalo International Guitar Festival

Guitar legend and Buffalo native Jason Vieaux is headlining the Department of Music’s first Buffalo International Guitar Festival, taking place March 8-10 on the North Campus.

“The theme of this inaugural event is ‘Celebrating Buffalo,’ and we will celebrate the rich history of the guitar in Buffalo, as well as current guitar personalities in the Buffalo area,” says Sungmin Shin, associate professor of practice (guitar) and artistic director of the Buffalo International Guitar Festival.

“This will be a unique guitar festival that stands out among similar events across North America and beyond. The Department of Music is so happy to be partnering with the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York Inc. to present this event,” Shin says.

Of particular note is the return of Grammy Award winner Jason Vieaux to Buffalo for a solo recital. Vieaux’s concert, part of UB’s Slee Visiting Artist Series, will be a particularly meaningful event for the Buffalo community, Shin says.

“Jason, who is originally from Buffalo and a Bills fan, is currently the top classical guitarist hailing from the United States,” he says. “He won the Best Instrumental Classical Solo Grammy Award for his album ‘Play’ in 2014 and currently teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music, which are world-class music conservatories. This will be a big homecoming for Jason, as he has not played a solo recital in the Buffalo area for over a decade or two.”

Vieaux will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 9 in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, North Campus. His program is titled “Four Paths of Light: Bach to Metheny.” Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, at the Center for the Arts box office from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and at the Slee Hall box office an hour before concert time. UB students with a valid UB ID may obtain a complimentary ticket at the Slee box office immediately before the concert.

Vieaux also will lead a master class for UB guitar students at 4 p.m. March 8 in Lippes Concert Hall. The class is free and open to the public.

In addition to celebrating Buffalo and its musicians, the festival will also feature various student-centered activities.

“Our format is student-centered, with a significant emphasis on opportunities for guitar students at all levels and ages, including guitar ensembles,” Shin says.

He explains that students can take advantage of the solo adjudication, a showcase competition, master classes, workshops and lectures, ensembles and a vendor expo. The vendor expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 9 in the Center for the Arts atrium.

“There will be world-class handcrafted and custom shop guitars and high-quality, student-level instruments on display for participants to try out. We will be giving away several prizes to attendees that visit with vendors,” Shin says.

Registered to attend the festival are guitarists of all ages and skill levels, including pre-collegiate students and adult enthusiasts, as well as those in undergraduate and graduate music programs from across New York State, Canada and beyond.

In addition to the Vieaux recital, festival goers can attend two other concerts:

  • Buffalo Guitar All-Stars featuring an all-star cast of Buffalo-area guitarists: March 8, 7:30 p.m., Baird Recital Hall, 250 Baird Hall, North Campus. The concert is free and open to the public; a $20 donation is suggested. A fundraiser will be held to benefit the Hispanic Heritage Council’s guitar initiative.
  • Festival Participants’ Concert featuring soloists, ensembles and the festival guitar orchestra: March 10, 11 a.m., Lippes Concert Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Buffalo International Guitar Festival will feature “many opportunities for guitar students and enthusiasts of all ages and levels, Shin says, adding, “This will be amazing!”