Guitar Judge Panel

Sungmin Shin

Korean American guitarist and composer Sungmin Shin maintains a vigorous schedule divided between performing and teaching in a wide variety of musical settings. As a musician, Dr. Shin finds a unique balance between his classical training and deep roots in popular guitar styles. This combination drives his curiosity to seek new modes of expression through performance, improvisation, and composition. Dr. Shin has been invited to perform, teach, and adjudicate at major international competitions, events, and festivals including the Guitar Foundation of America, Iserlohn Guitar Festival (Germany), Rochester International Jazz Festival, and more. A frequent collaborator with various musicians and ensembles, he is a member of the internationally acclaimed guitar ensemble Tantalus Quartet, the Rochester-based contemporary quintet fivebyfive and folk/jazz/rock group Lauren and the Good Souls.

Dr. Shin is a devoted educator and shares his passion for music with students of all ages and levels. He is currently on faculty at The University at Buffalo (SUNY) where he directs the UB Guitar Ensemble and teaches acoustic, classical and electric guitars. Also, he is an adjunct professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology teaching guitar and history of popular music. Students of Dr. Shin have gained admission to top music schools in the US such as Berklee, Eastman, and many more at the undergraduate and graduate levels with scholarships. Dr. Shin is the director of the Penfield Guitar School and serves on the faculty of Guitar Workshop Plus in Toronto during the summers.

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Patrick Lui

“Patrick Lui’s playing not only demonstrates virtuosity but also a lyric beauty and silky smoothness that I have rarely heard. He is an artist whom should be treasured,” said Gerald Cochran of the Salisbury Post as he described Lui’s performance of the Tesdeco Guitar Concerto in D. Professor Susan Nylor of Reinhardt University proclaimed Patrick’s live performance as one that touches the heart and soul of music. Aside from establishing himself as a notable performer, Patrick is considered one of the foremost American classical guitar educators. He taught in Catawba College, Salem College, Forsyth Technical Community College and North Carolina School for the Arts before becoming the Director of Guitar Studies at Weaver Academy for Performing and Visual Arts in 2005 – a nationally acclaimed program. Patrick’s students have won more than three hundred prizes and included Grammy Award Winners, Touring Artists, Teachers, Luthiers and even an Olympian.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Patrick was a full scholarship student of the legendary guitar pedagogue Aaron Shearer. He was a teaching assistant of Professor Frank Koonce and an interim Instructor of Guitar at Arizona State University. Patrick has also studied with Wilson Nguyen, Susan McKeithen, Larry Almeida.

Lynn McGrath

Blending expressive musicianship with a passion for Spanish language and culture, literature, and theater, Lynn McGrath has shared the poetry and music of “Platero y yo” with audiences on 4 continents in the role of both guitarist and theatrical narrator. Bringing the poetry of Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez to life for diverse audiences that have included children in a Peruvian orphanage as well as classical guitar connoisseurs, one critic wrote the following after hearing her performance at the Guitar Foundation of America Convention: “...wonderful timing, poise, wit, and grace, while getting a full rich sound from her guitar. Anyone who loves either music or poetry would have been charmed, but those who appreciate both, not to mention stage presence and acting skills, were electrified by this tour-de-force of artistic multi-tasking. (Richard M. Long, Soundboard) A touring soloist, chamber artist, and respected pedagogue, Lynn McGrath has appeared in North America, South America, Europe, and New Zealand as performer, lecturer, conductor, and an adjudicator for a number of international and national festivals including the Nikšić Festival (Montenegro), Silesian Guitar Autumn Festival (Poland), and the Guitar on the Mediterranean Festival (Italy), and the Guitar Foundation of America Convention (US). She has also presented at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Veracruz, and Mannes College and appeared at venues including the Troy Savings Hall (NY), The National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque), and the Skirball Cultural Center (LA). She has also toured New Zealand and performed on New Zealand National Radio.

In addition to solo performances, Lynn McGrath is a member of the highly acclaimed Tantalus Guitar Quartet, and former member of the trio, Presti. She has been a soloist with the Orchestra of Northern New York, performed with the Albuquerque-based choir Quintessence, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. After receiving degrees in Spanish Language and Literature as well as Education, she completed a music degree with Douglas Rubio at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam (where she taught as a full-time instructor) and went on to earn a MM and DMA from the University of Southern California, studying with luminaries William Kanengiser, Pepe Romero, and James Smith.

McGrath has worked in various roles with Guitar Foundation of America and is presently the Director of the organization's annual International Youth Competition. Her students have been accepted, and many have received full scholarships to some of the best undergraduate and graduate schools in the nation, have placed in international and domestic competitions, and have been featured on NPR’s “From the Top.” In 2016, she taught as an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma City University and in Fall of 2017 joined the faculty as Senior Guitar Instructor at the Eastman Community Music School, University of Rochester, NY.

Kenneth Kam

Kenneth is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music where he studies with Prof. Nicholas Goluses and serves as his teaching assistant teaching undergraduates, graduate fretboard harmony, history and literature of guitar, guitar pedagogy and seminar in guitar studies. He is also pursuing the Master of Music in Early Music -Emphasis in Historical Plucked Instruments, the lute and the Baroque guitar, under Prof. Paul O'Dette’s guidance.

As an active performer, Kenneth has been heard in Beijing, Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Mexico. In 2017, Kenneth performed the U.S. premier of “Hachiko” written by Fabrizio Ferraro with the Queensboro Symphony Orchestra in New York City. In 2018, Omar Rojas wrote a solo guitar piece, “KAM(?)”, and a piece for guitar and percussion, “OME”, both dedicated to Kenneth. In 2019, Kenneth premiered “Quinquagenary Horizon” and "Variation of ambush from ten sides", written by Daniel Adams and Barry Wan for him respectively.
As a researcher, Kenneth has presented lectures at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, University of Wisconsin-Stout, University of Ottawa, the 3rd Altamira Hong Kong International Guitar Symposium at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong International Guitar Forum, College Music Society and Guitar Foundation of America. His William Walton research has been published in Soundboard, the only quarterly print journal published by the Guitar Foundation of America in the United States, and Gendai Guitar, a classical guitar specialized monthly magazine in Japan since 1967.

Kenneth is on the guitar and lute faculty at the Eastman Community Music School, where he teaches students of all ages. He is a member of the Hong Kong Guitar Ensemble and the Eastman School of Music Collegium Musicum. For more information, please visit