Native Los Angeles composer and director Sean Griffin’s performance and musical works are animated by dense rhythmic structuring and improvisation. They range from instrumental works to immersive operas, extended choral techniques, installation, rhythmic games and devised movement patterns. His performance compositions often feature the unique talents of the instrumentalists and performers with whom he collaborates extensively. Creatively recombining ethnographic, archival and historical research with critical artistic inquiry to pursue a multidimensional dramaturgy, his work as an opera director has been noted for its expansive inclusion of diverse media and integration of movement, community engagement, technology and museum objects into vivid, complex spectacles. Recent works have engaged resonances of transiency, exile, eugenics archives, abduction, the Spanish Enlightenment, class struggle, Hollywood tabloid reporting, improvisation, and competing political cultures.
Griffin is a long-time collaborator with many artists including Catherine Sullivan, Charles Gaines, percussionist Aiyun Huang and vocal artist Juliana Snapper. In addition to recording and performing as a pianist, harpist, conductor and arranger, he is the Director of Opera Povera, an interdisciplinary consortium devoted to the creation and performance of new operatic and interdisciplinary performance and exhibition projects for which he received a grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in 2011. In 2014, he was a Mellon Fellow for Arts Practice & Scholarship at the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry.
Griffin has received numerous residencies including at Yaddo, MacDowell, and three research and production-based residencies at EMPAC who then commissioned his large-scale, intermedia opera Cold Spring in 2010. His collaborative works have been presented internationally at venues including June in Buffalo, MATA Festival, Berlin’s Volksbühne, Secession Vienna, London's Royal Academy and the Tate Modern, Taipei City Arts Festival, Walker Art Center, Festival B:OM 2010 in Seoul, Korea, MoMA in New York, LACMA, Armand Hammer Museum, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, REDCAT at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and EMPAC in Troy, NY. He received an MFA from CalArts, studying with Mel Powell, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego where he worked with George Lewis and Chaya Czernowin.