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Sean Burton

Sean Burton

Department Chair, Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Director of The Briar Cliff Jazz Ensemble

Department: Department of Music
Phone: 712-279-5548
Email: Sean.Burton@briarcliff.edu
Office Location: Heelan Hall 179


  • B.M. The Hartt School – University of Hartford;
  • M.M. Boston University;
  • D.M.A. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Sean Burton


Dr. Sean Burton enjoys a reputation of distinction, earned by hard work, in the Siouxland community and beyond. He serves as Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, Director of The Briar Cliff Jazz Ensemble, and Chairperson of the Department of Music at Briar Cliff University. He is also Music Director and Conductor of the Siouxland Youth Symphony, Director of Music Ministries at Grace United Methodist Church, and Founding Artistic Director and Conductor of the Siouxland Choral Artists. Regarded for his unique level of personal integrity and professional commitment, he was profiled in Siouxland Magazine as part of their inaugural “10 under 40” list. Dr. Burton was honored to serve as The Gilchrist Foundation Director of Choral Activities from 2012-2015 and as Division Chair of Arts and Humanities from 2011-2015 at Briar Cliff. He received the Emerging Faculty Scholar Award, the University's highest honor for pre-tenured faculty, in 2009.

Dr. Burton has been featured as a conductor, clinician, or adjudicator in more than twenty states. Recent engagements range from guest conducting the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts to All-State choruses in Alaska and South Dakota. Dr. Burton also possesses significant international experience, having led choirs on tour throughout Europe, Canada and Mexico. Under his direction, the Briar Cliff Singers have collaborated with some thirty regional organizations or institutions, were the first choir ever to be invited to sing the National Anthem on the site of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, presented a prestigious solo performance at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, and sang for Pentecost Sunday Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.  

Dr. Burton’s book, The Unaccompanied Choral Music of Pierre Villette: A Conductor’s Analysis (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008), can be found in most of the world’s major research libraries. Further, he is the author of more than seventy additional publications including articles, reviews, and editions of choral music, such as teacher resource guides in Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, Volume 4 (G.I.A. Publications, 2017), and numerous contributions to the Choral Journal. He has presented or conducted at national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, College Music Society, and The National Association for Music Education. Closer to home, he has been featured at conferences of the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Iowa Music Educators Association, Nebraska Choral Directors Association, Nebraska Music Educators Association, and South Dakota Music Educators Association. As Chief Editor of Publications for the National Collegiate Choral Organization, he serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Choral Scholar and manages the NCCO Choral Series distributed by ECS Publishing. He co-chaired the 2013 Iowa Choral Directors Association Summer Symposium and served as the ICDA Repertoire and Standards Chair for Four-Year Colleges/Universities. His executive board service includes the National Collegiate Choral Organization, Iowa Choral Directors Association, Friends of KWIT-KOJI FM 90, and Sioux City Concert Course.

Dr. Burton is formerly conductor of the Nebraska Children’s Chorus Bel Canto and spent the earliest years of his career as the choral and orchestra director at Weston High School in southwestern Connecticut. Originally from Suffield, Connecticut, Dr. Burton is a summa cum laude graduate of The Hartt School -- University of Hartford (B.M. music ed.) and earned master's and doctoral degrees in conducting from Boston University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  His conducting mentors include Dr. Peter Eklund, Dr. Ann Howard Jones, Dr. Therees Tkach Hibbard, the late Paul Oakley, Dr. Edward Bolkovac, and David Hoose. He has been selected via competitive audition for numerous conducting master classes, institutes and workshops, working with luminaries such as Dr. Dennis Keene (Artistic Director and Conductor of New York City's Voices of Ascension), the late Weston Noble (Professor Emeritus of Luther College), Dr. Dale Warland (Founder and Artistic Director of the Dale Warland Singers), Jon Washburn (Founder and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Chamber Choir), Dr. Mack Wilberg (Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), and Maestro Duain Wolfe (Chorus Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).