Steve Guerra is a composer, arranger, saxophonist, and educator who is currently the Director of the Studio Jazz Writing program and an Assistant Professor in the department of Studio Music and Jazz at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Dr. Guerra oversees the innovative jazz composition master’s and doctoral level curriculums and teaches classes in arranging, composition, MIDI and DAW, orchestration, and vocal arranging. He has served as the director of the award-winning FROST Studio Jazz Band and formerly served as the program director of the Frost School’s MusicReach community outreach program, launching many of the programs that continue today.
Under his leadership, the Henry Mancini Institute appeared in numerous PBS specials, major-label record releases, and high-profile live events throughout the United States including a recent performance with John Williams, Kristen Chenoweth, and Matthew Morrison in Beverly Hills, California. In collaboration with Dean Shelly Berg and Resident Conductor and Artistic Coordinator Scott Flavin, he strived to create innovative learning and performance opportunities for HMI.
In high demand as a composer and arranger, Steve has been commissioned to write music for Dave Koz, Ben Folds, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Carmen Bradford, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, among others. In December 2016, he traveled to Japan as the assistant orchestrator for Japanese music sensation Yoshiki’s Classical Tour and Carnegie Hall Performance. He has served as a composer‐in‐residence throughout the U.S., thanks to the Commission Project and the National Endowment for the Arts. An active performer as well, he has also performed alongside many jazz masters, including Phil Woods, Al Grey, Snooky Young, Marshall Royal, Louis Bellson, and Jeff “Tain” Watts. He was a featured soloist on the Clark Terry Young Titan’s of Jazz 2003 release Live at Marihan’s and the Louie Bellson Big Band release, Louie and Clark Expedition 2. Steve enjoyed a close relationship with trumpeter and educator Clark Terry and served as the musical director and chief arranger of his big band from 2003 to 2013. In addition to the Stephen Guerra Big Band’s critically acclaimed first album Namesake in 2009, Steve also contributed arrangements for the New Hampshire Jazz Orchestra’s 2015 release, Swingin’ for the Holidays. He recently played saxophone on the upcoming Holiday Album recorded by Emilio and Gloria Estefan entitled An Estefan Family Christmas. In 2023, he will release two albums of original music for big band and sextet.
Before pursuing his DMA and eventually joining the faculty at the FROST SCHOOL OF MUSIC, Dr. Guerra was a high school band director in Concord and Pelham, New Hampshire. He created jazz education programs at both the Manchester Community Music School and the Bedford Youth Performing Company in New Hampshire. Dr. Guerra earned a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire in saxophone performance, a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from the Clark Terry International Institute of Jazz Studies, an M.M. from the Eastman School of Music in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media with a Writing Skills Emphasis, and a D.M.A. in jazz composition from the Frost School of Music.