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Dr. Alexander Amato

Alexander Amato

Dr. Alexander Amato joined SFA's School of Music in fall 2014 and his research interests include:

  • Schenkerian theory and analysis
  • Hindemith's analytical technique
  • musical narrative
  • theory pedagogy
  • the history of music theory from 1600 to 1900
  • and analysis of the music of Ottorino Respighi.

He has presented at international, national, and regional conferences.

Amato earned his bachelor's degree in composition and music theory at Michigan State University, his master's in music theory at University of Arizona, and his PhD in Music Theory at University of North Texas.

Dr. Kathryn Fenton

Dr. Kathryn M. Fenton earned her honors bachelor's degree at McGill University, her master's degree the University of Notre Dame and her PhD in musicology from The University of Western Ontario.

Fenton teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate music history courses, believing them to be an opportunity to give students a sense of how individual works fit into a network of historical and cultural contexts and to expand their musical literacy, and also as a chance to encourage students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills.

Prior to coming to SFA, Fenton taught at several universities in the United States and Canada, including Eastern Illinois University, Middle Tennessee State University, The University of Western Ontario and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Her research focuses on the music of the long nineteenth century, particularly French and Italian opera. She also studies musical life and institutions in the United States during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and the development of an American musical identity.

Her 2019 book, "Puccini and the American Musical Identity" published by Routledge, explores the intersection of nationalism, cosmopolitanism and nativism in the early New York City reception of Giacomo Puccini’s opera "La fanciulla del West ". Fenton has presented her research at local, national and international conferences in the fields of Musicology, Literature and American History, and contributed several articles on opera singers to the 2013 "Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia. "

Carlos Gaviria

Carlos Gaviria, a native of Cali, Colombia, began his musical education at the Conservatorio Antonio Maria Valencia. While in Cali, Gaviria joined the Orquesta Simfónica del Vallés, where he spent three seasons performing as a bass section member.

Gaviria came to the United States on a scholarship to study at the University of North Texas, where he completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in music. While at UNT, he worked as a teaching assistant to the world-renowned bass teacher Jeff Bradetich.

He's currently a member of Symphony of South East Texas and has performed regularly with many ensembles, including the symphony orchestras of San Angelo, Abilene, Irving, Plano, University of North Texas and University of Houston. He also has been a member of festival orchestras, including the American Institute of Musical Studies orchestra in Graz, Austria, and the Texas Music Festival Orchestra.

As a music theorist, Gaviria's areas of research include the music of Alberto Ginastera. He published a thesis on the use of the guitar chord by Ginastera and gave a lecture on the topic at the Latin American Composers Conference in 2009.

Many of his students have been placed in All-State orchestras and have gone on to be accepted into music programs at major American universities.

Gaviria is a dedicated pedagogue and was active as a bass instructor in the Dallas and Houston areas for several years. He has taught at the Abilene Summer Music Festival and at the Bradetich Annual Summer Bass Camps since 2009, and he has presented master classes at UNT and UT Panamerican.

Additionally, Gaviria has taught music theory and ear training classes at the University of North Texas and the University of Houston. He currently resides in Houston, where he maintains a full private teaching studio. Gaviria joined the faculty of SFA's School of Music in 2012.

Dr. Cody Hunter

Cody Hunter Dr. Cody Hunter earned his bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, his master's degree in music from the University of MN-Twin Cities and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Memphis. His primary bassoon teachers were Dr. Patricia Holland, John Miller, Norbert Nielubowski and Lecolion Washington.​

Hunter joined SFA's School of Music in 2022 teaching bassoon and music theory. He also is the bassoonist with the Stone Fort Wind Quintet.

Prior to his appointment at SFA, Hunter served as assistant professor of music and director of fine arts at Mayville State University and lecturer of bassoon at North Dakota State University. Additionally, Hunter taught for East Hardy schools in West Virginia and Harding University in Arkansas.

He has presented at music education conferences in West Virginia and South Dakota on pedagogical aspects of the bassoon and has a webinar available through the National Association for Music Education titled "Bassoon for Band Directors." His article "History and Current Use of Bassoon Speaker Keys" was published in the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors journal in the spring of 2021.

As a bassoonist, Hunter has performed with:

  • the Memphis Symphony
  • Arkansas Symphony
  • Symphony Orchestra Augusta
  • Fargo-Moorhead Symphony
  • Eroica Ensemble of Memphis
  • and served as Principal Bassoon with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

He was a finalist for the 2021 American Prize in professional instrumental performance and the recipient of the Musik Link "International Sounds" fellowship, a program supporting community outreach and engagement through bassoon performance.

An advocate for new bassoon works, Hunter has commissioned and premiered pieces by Alex Manton, Adam Berndt, Lindsey Wiehl and Daniel Baldwin. In addition to performing for the 2021 International Double Reed Society Virtual Symposium, he also premiered the bassoon version of "Crepusculos" by Jose Elizando at the 2022 International Double Reed Society conference in Boulder, Colorado.

As a soloist, Hunter performed the Mozart bassoon concerto with Sinfonietta Memphis in 2017 and Villa-Lobos' Ciranda das Sete Notes with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra in 2022.

Dr. Samantha Inman

Dr. Samantha InmanDr. Samantha Inman earned a bachelor's degree in music with a concentration on music theory and flute performance from Baldwin-Wallace College, a master's degree in music with a concentration in music theory from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music and a PhD in music theory from University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

Prior to joining SFA's School of Music faculty, she taught at the University of North Texas. Her research interests include form, Schenkerian analysis, music theory pedagogy and the music of Haydn and Bach.

She has presented at national and regional conferences including the Society for Music Theory, Pedagogy into Practice, and the Texas Society for Music Theory. Her publications appear in:

  • Theory and Practice
  • the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy
  • BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute
  • and Haydn: The Online Journal of the Haydn Society of North America.

Dr. Stephen Lias

Stephen LiasThe music of adventurer-composer Dr. Stephen Lias is regularly performed in concert and recital throughout the United States and abroad by soloists and ensembles including the Arianna Quartet, the Anchorage Symphony, the Oasis Quartet, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, the Ensamble de Trompetas Simón Bolívar, the Boulder Philharmonic and the Russian String Orchestra. His music is published by Alias Press and distributed worldwide exclusively by Theodore Presser. His pieces are regularly featured at major national and international conferences including the International Trumpet Guild, the North American Saxophone Alliance and the International Society for Contemporary Music World Music Days. Lias served for eleven years as Composer in Residence and Music Director at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.

His passion for wilderness and outdoor pursuits has led to a sizable series of works about the national parks of the United States. Lias has served as artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Denali, Glacier Bay, Bering Land Bridge and Gates of the Arctic National Parks, and has written over a dozen park-related pieces that have been performed in such far-flung places as Colorado, New Hampshire, Texas, Alaska, Sydney and Taiwan. In 2017, his "All the Songs that Nature Sings" was commissioned by the Boulder Philharmonic with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and performed at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Lias is the creator of The Composers Site (now operated by Vox Novus) and the founder and leader of the annual Composing in the Wilderness program offered by the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and Alaska Geographic.

Lias received degrees from Messiah College, SFA and Louisiana State University.  He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the College Music Society, the Society of Composers, Inc and the American Composers Forum, and is the Texas delegate to the International Society of Contemporary Music. He currently resides in Nacogdoches, where he is professor of composition at SFA. When not composing and teaching, Lias enjoys reading, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, travel and photography.

Showcased works
YouTube thumbnail image
Click to watch on YouTube



Dr. Ben Morris

Dr. Ben MorrisDr. Ben Morris is a Texas-based composer and jazz pianist whose music tells unconventional stories and crosses genre boundaries. He earned his bachelor's degree in music composition at University of Miami, master's degree at Rice University and his Doctor of Musical Arts in music composition at University of Colorado Boulder.

Morris's creative work and research is inspired by his Norwegian heritage. He lived in Oslo, Norway, on a Fulbright Grant composing a work for extended big band and video and received an American-Scandinavian Foundation Grant to research the influence of folk music on Norwegian jazz.

His debut album, "Pocket Guides," was released in June 2022 on Origin/OA2 Records and takes elements from Norwegian folk music, jazz and contemporary chamber music. The album garnered him two Downbeat Awards, an ASCAP Herb Alpert Award, a big band commission from New York Youth Symphony's First Music and an invitation to perform with his quintet at Newport Jazz Festival.

Also a versatile film, theatre and opera composer, Morris scored the documentary films "American River," which premiered at Montclair Film in 2021, and "Saving the Great Swamp: The Battle to Defeat the Jetport," which won best documentary at the 2017 New Jersey Film Festival.

A frequent collaborator with librettist Laura Fuentes, he premiered a 20-minute opera, "Las Auténticas," for the Washington National Opera American Opera Initiative, presented a multimedia opera, "The Fall of Man and Other Tales," at the ATLAS B2 Black Box and is currently working with Fuentes on commissions for Glimmerglass Opera and Art Song Colorado.

Morris seeks opportunities to write for unique ensembles that blur established genre expectations. He has worked with:

  • American Composers Orchestra
  • Aspen Contemporary Ensemble
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center trombonist Vincent Gardner
  • Unassisted fold
  • NOW Ensemble
  • Imani Winds
  • Boulder Altitude Directive
  • The Living Earth Show
  • Playground Ensemble
  • and the NDR Big Band.

He has been a composer fellow at music festivals and workshops including:

  • Aspen Music Festival
  • American Composers Orchestra Jazz Composers Institute
  • Red Note Festival
  • Sibelius Academy Creative Dialogue
  • New Music on the Point
  • International Gugak Workshop
  • highScore
  • Source Song Festival
  • and the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival.

His concert music has received accolades including an ASCAP Morton Gould Award and the International Society of Bassists Composition Contest Grand Prize.

Showcased works
Las Auténticas: An Opera in One Act
Las Auténticas: An Opera in One Act - Click to watch on YouTube


Secaucus Junction
Secaucus Junction - Click to watch on YouTube


Melissa Nabb

Melissa Nabb A native of Urbana, Illinois, Melissa Nabb earned a bachelor's degree in viola performance, cum laude, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying with Rudolf Haken, and a master's degree in viola performance at Northwestern University, studying with renowned pedagogue Roland Vamos.

Nabb is an active performer, playing on both violin and viola in ensembles in East Texas and surrounding areas, including the Shreveport Symphony and Longview Symphony. Prior to moving to Nacogdoches, Nabb performed with ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Lexington Philharmonic, Sinfonia Da Camera and Evansville Symphony.

She is a certified Suzuki Method instructor and maintains an active teaching career. She has enjoyed large studios in Naperville, Illinois, and Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, and now teaches violin and viola in her home in Nacogdoches.

Dr. Kristen Nelson

Dr. Kirsten Nelson received her Bachelor of Music in bassoon from West Texas State University, and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in bassoon and music theory from The University of Georgia. Her bassoon instructors have included Bruce Hammel, Tina Carpenter and William Davis.

While in Georgia, Nelson performed with the Macon Symphony Orchestra, Augusta Symphony Orchestra and South Carolina's Greenville Symphony Orchestra. She also has performed at:

  • Texas Music Educators Conventions
  • International Double Reed Society Conferences
  • and the National Association of Collegiate Wind and Percussion Instructors Symposium.

She joined the SFA faculty in 1997 and has been the principal bassoonist in the SFA Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Stone Fort Wind Quintet. She also has performed with the Longview Symphony Orchestra.

Nelson is a member of the:

  • Texas Music Educators Association
  • International Double Reed Society
  • National Association of Collegiate Wind and Percussion Instructors
  • Mu Phi Epsilon
  • Pi Kappa Lambda
  • and Phi Kappa Phi.

Kayla Roth

Kayla Roth teaches music theory and ear-training courses. Originally from Lufkin, she is a graduate of Lufkin High School.

Roth earned her bachelor's degree in percussion performance at SFA, where she studied percussion with Dr. Scott Harris and music theory with Dr. Kirsten Nelson. She earned her master's degree in music theory from Texas State University, where she studied with Dr. Nico Schuler and Dr. Kevin Mooney. Her independent studies focused on popular music theory and recording techniques, culminating in her thesis, "Son of Beatles: A Historical and Analytical Study of the Music of Electric Light Orchestra," which studied the salient aural traits of the band and analyzed both the theory of the music and technical aspects of the recording processes used.

She has composed and arranged pieces for solo instruments and chamber ensembles. "Loblolly" premiered at the 2017 Tuba-Euphonium Conference of the Rockies, and, after her participation in the 2018 Composing in the Wilderness field course as part of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, "Terrae Borealis" premiered at Federal Hall in New York City. Roth also won second place in the Falcone Festival's 2020 call for compositions with "Modal Suite for Solo Euphonium." She is published with Cimarron Music Press and Atticus Sounds Publications.

Roth grew up playing guitar(s), drum set and singing with her siblings and other local rock bands, and later worked as a pianist, drummer, guitarist and vocalist at audience-driven and all-request in sing-along piano venues across Texas, Florida and Arkansas.

Dr. Jamie Weaver

Dr. Jamie Weaver holds a Bachelor of Music from Brigham Young University and a Master of Music from Texas Christian University, specializing in vocal performance and pedagogy. She earned her PhD in music history, with a secondary area in vocal performance from the University of Oregon.

As the recipient of an International Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship, Weaver conducted her dissertation research in Bologna, Italy, exploring compositional ethics of composers in Florence and in northern Italy during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. She continues to perform actively with early music and contemporary music ensembles.

Dr. Jenna Sehmann

Dr. Jenna Sehmann holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in oboe performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, Master of Music degree in oboe performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in both music performance and music industry from Eastern Kentucky University. Major influences on Sehmann's career include Dr. Courtney Miller, Dr. Mark Ostoich and Dr. Julie Smith.

Prior to joining SFA's faculty in 2023, Sehmann served as instructor of Double Reeds and Music History at Southeast Missouri State University, oboe faculty at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and oboe faculty at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Professionally, Sehmann has performed with:

  • Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra
  • Orchestra Iowa
  • Dubuque Symphony
  • Paducah Symphony Orchestra
  • Ottumwa Symphony
  • Dayton Philharmonic
  • Evansville Philharmonic
  • Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas

Additional performances in orchestral and chamber music settings include:

  • Taneycomo Festival Orchestra
  • Bay View Music Festival
  • Marrowstone Music Festival
  • Trentino Music Festival
  • Sault Ste. Marie Opera Orchestra

She is an accomplished soloist and has won several competitions and awards. Most notably, she was the Kentucky chapter winner of the 2018 National Society of Arts and Letters Woodwinds competition, competing nationally in Chautauqua, New York. Sehmann also was the second-place winner of the Mary Ann Starring Memorial Award in Woodwinds/Brass as part of the 2018 Sigma Alpha Iota Triennial Graduate Performance Awards.

Other accomplishments include:

  • winning the Kentucky division of the 2017 Music Teachers National Association Woodwinds Young Artist Competition
  • and being the 2016 recipient of the NAfME Carolyn Nelson Double Reed Award.

Sehmann has developed and taught several musicology courses, and completed her secondary area studies in musicology during her doctoral degree.

Her research, which can be found in her doctoral capstone project, focuses on literary connections and narrative in instrumental music, and features recordings of works for oboe inspired by literature. This project highlighted two of Sehmann’s greatest interests: oboe performance and theatrical performance literature. Sehmann was named the sole recipient of the 2020 Sigma Alpha Iota Doctoral Grant to further her studies on this subject. Additional areas of interest in musicology include ethnomusicology and American popular music.

A devoted chamber musician, Sehmann is the oboist and Director of Operations for the Wild Prairie Winds, a 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of the Wild Prairie Winds is to promote the performance, education and accessibility of chamber music through diverse programming and creative concert settings. The organization performs throughout the Midwest and serves as artists-in-residence at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa.

At SFA, Sehmann serves as the oboist for the Stone Fort Wind Quintet. She resides in Nacogdoches with her retired racing greyhound, Peggy Sue.



School of Music
Faculty directory

Physical Address:
Wright Music Building
Room 150

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 13043, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962