American bass-baritone Ivan Griffin has delighted audiences in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, and South Africa. Operatic engagements include Lawyer Frazier in Michigan Opera Theatre’s Porgy and Bess, a role that he was invited to reprise in Europe under the batons of maestros William Barkhymer and Kelly Kuo. He made his Spoleto Festival USA 2016 debut in Porgy and Bess, and as the King in the world premiere of Afram ou la Belle Swita by Edmund Thornton Jenkins. Additionally, he has appeared with Detroit (née Michigan Opera Theatre), New Orleans, Mobile, Buffalo Lyric, Western New York, South Carolina Opera, and OperaCréole in such roles as Papageno in The Magic Flute, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Lucien Aubry in Minette Fontaine, and Zuniga in Carmen. His performance as Ulisse in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria with Opéra Louisiane was enthusiastically received.
Mr. Griffin has premiered several works written for his voice. They include Songs of Winter, a cycle for baritone and piano, and The Little Thieves of Bethlehem (Centaur Records), both by Rochester, New York composer Paul Stuart, and Requiem for the Innocent, an oratorio in five languages for baritone soloist, orchestra, and chorus written by Spanish composer Jorge Muñiz and premiered with the South Bend Symphony. 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 Sinfónica de Mexico and l’Orquesta Sinfónica 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, including Morehouse College, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University South Bend, Nicholls State, West Virginia University, and Northwestern University of Louisiana. He has also performed at the World’s Fair, International Thomas Merton Society, African American Art Song Alliance, 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, Ivan 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 late legendary stage and screen personalities Roscoe Lee Brown and Ossie Davis.
Ivan’s 2018 debut album, Finding My Way Back To Me, is a tribute to his journey from the early years of growing up in, Louisiana to the present day. Possessing a love of various genres and styles he partnered with former Southern University classmate Thomas Dawson, Jr., music director for the world-famous Commodores, for a glimpse into his life and the musical influences.