American bass-baritone Ivan Griffin has delighted audiences in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, and South Africa.
His operatic engagements include Lawyer Frazier in Michigan Opera Theatre’s Porgy and Bess, a role that he was invited to reprise during a European tour of the opera. Ivan made his Spoleto Festival USA 2016 debut in the role of Robbins in Porgy and Bess. He was also featured as the King in the world premiere of Afram ou la Belle Swita by Edmund Thornton Jenkins. Additionally he has appeared as Lucien Aubry in Minette Fontaine with OperaCréole, Rev. Olin Blitch in Susannah with Buffalo Lyric Opera, Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro and Papageno in The Magic Flute with Western New York Opera Theater. A frequent guest with New Orleans Opera, he has appeared in such productions as Madame Butterfly (Il Commissario), Der Vampyr (Toms Blunt), La Boheme (Benoit), Carmen (Lt. Zuniga), La Traviata (Dr. Grenvil), and Tosca (Cesare Angelotti). His concert, Songs of A People: Music of the African-American Experience, was a feature at both Marigny Opera House and Trinity Episcopal Church Artists Series in 2015. He also had the pleasure of performing the National Anthem on November 19, 2017 for the New Orleans Saints vs. the Washington Redskins game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Mr. Griffin has premiered several new works written for his voice. They include Songs of Winter, a song cycle for baritone and piano, and The Little Thieves of Bethlehem (Centaur Records), both by Rochester, New York composer Paul Stuart. With the South Bend Symphony, he was the featured soloist for the world premiere of Requiem for the Innocent, an oratorio written in 5 languages by Spanish composer Jorge Muñiz. Of his work the South Bend Tribune said, “Griffin was particularly heroic, maintaining his pacing and poise while switching from language to language and culture to culture.” Additional oratorio repertoire includes performances of Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, Saint Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. John Passion, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and the requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, Fauré and Mozart. In addition, Mr. Griffin has appeared with the orchestras of New Orleans, Rochester (NY), Toledo, South Carolina, Nashville, Savannah, Bangor, Flint, Southeast Texas, l’Orquesta Sinfonica de Mexico and l’Orquesta Sinfonica de Minería in Mexico City under such notable conductors as Enrique Diemecke, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Chelsea Tipton II, David Danzmayer, and James Burton.
Recital appearances have taken him to various venues within the United States. They include Morehouse College, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University South Bend, Shippensburg University, Fisk University, Covenant College and Middle Tennessee State University, to name a few. He has also performed for such audiences as the World’s Fair, the International Thomas Merton Society, The African American Art Song Alliance, The National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Summer Olympics Celebrate Faith and Arts Atlanta Concert Series. As a soloist with the internationally renowned American Spiritual Ensemble, he has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and New York’s Riverside Church.
A graduate of Southern University and the Eastman School of Music, this versatile artist has been praised for his “excellent diction and superb sense of theater.” He has been featured in such productions as Guys and Dolls at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Sophisticated Ladies at Detroit’s Music Hall, Big River at Croswell Opera House, She Loves Me at Performance Network in Ann Arbor (MI), and The All Night Strut at Boarshead Theatre in Lansing (MI). He has also shared the stage with the late legendary stage and screen personalities Roscoe Lee Brown and Ossie Davis.
Ivan’s debut album, Finding My Way Back To Me, is a tribute to his journey from the early years of growing up in Slidell, Louisiana to the present day. Having a love for various genres and styles he partnered with former Southern University classmate Thomas Dawson, Jr., music director for the world famous Commodores and owner of Mountain Nest Recording Studios in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to give us a glimpse into his life and the musical influences that contributed to both his artistic and personal development.