Dr. Sean Michael Burton - Department of Music | Briar Cliff University
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Sean Michael 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 Michael Burton is Chair of the Department of Music, Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Director of the Jazz Ensemble at Briar Cliff University where he conducts ensembles and teaches courses in conducting, music education, and aural skills. Dr. Burton served as Artistic Director of the University's highly successful Christmas at the Orpheum initiative from 2007-2014, leading the Briar Cliff Choirs, Members of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, and a number of guest choirs and soloists in performances of works ranging from the Bass Gloria, Handel Messiah, Rutter Gloria, Vivaldi Gloria, K. Lee Scott Christmas Cantata, and Shaw-Bennett Many Moods of Christmas to piano concertos by Grieg, Mozart, Poulenc, and Schumann with Richard Steinbach, the Poulenc Organ Concerto with the late J. Reilly Lewis, and a multitude of other pieces at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City. He created A Briar Cliff Christmas in 2015, a program which bridges the traditions of Christmas at the Orpheum with its predecessor Christmas at the Cathedral, in its emphasis upon performance of seasonal choral-orchestral literature in venues throughout the region that remain free and open to the public. Over the years, Dr. Burton has led the Briar Cliff University Singers on tour throughout the Midwestern and Southeastern United States, Hawaii, and Italy, including high-profile performances at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. In addition to conducting works from the a cappella tradition, he has led the Cliff Singers and Chamber Choir in performances of the Britten Ceremony of Carols, Duruflé Requiem, Fauré Requiem, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, the Rutter Requiem, Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G Major, Julian Wachner's The Snow Lay on the Ground, and the Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs. He directs Briar Cliff’s annual Pre-All-State Choral Music Camp and served as Division Chair of Arts and Humanities, the University’s largest academic unit at the time, from 2011-2015. Dr. Burton is also the Founding Artistic Director and Conductor of the Siouxland Choral Artists and Director of Music Ministries at the historic Grace United Methodist Church in Sioux City.

Dr. Burton maintains an extensive schedule as guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator throughout the United States with appearances running the gamut from All-State choirs and regional festivals to professional orchestral engagements on the level of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts as part of a Pops concert featuring world-renowned recording artist Dionne Warwick. He has prepared choruses for Connecticut Concert Opera, the Omaha Symphony, Lincoln Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, and Wellesley Symphony for performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, “Choral,” the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, Handel's Ariodante, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Walton’s Belshazaar’s Feast, the Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 1, “A Sea Symphony,” and more. Other conducting credits include the Boston Orpheus Ensemble, Boston University Choral Society, Boston University Concert Choir, Connecticut Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Marsh Chapel Choir at Boston University, The Masterworks Chorale of Boston, University of Nebraska-Lincoln All-Collegiate Chorus, University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Singers, Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Wellesley Choral Society.

Dr. Burton remains deeply committed to the education of young musicians in both the choral and instrumental spheres. From 2014-2018, he was Director of the Siouxland Youth Orchestras and Music Director of the Siouxland Youth Symphony, conducting performances of works such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Bizet’s Carmen and L’Arlesienne Suites, Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2 “Mysterious Mountain,” the Mussorgsky-Rimsky Korsakov Night on Bald Mountain, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien and Marche Slav, and numerous overtures, arias and concertos. From 2006-2010, he was Conductor of the Nebraska Children’s Chorus Bel Canto, an ensemble that toured throughout the United States, Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy, performing in venues such as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, Salzburg Cathedral, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, St. Michael’s Church in Munich, etc. In addition, Bel Canto was selected for performance at the 2008 National Conference of the National Association for Music Education and was featured at state and regional conferences of ACDA or NAfME while under his direction. Prior to his relocation to the Midwest for doctoral studies in conducting, he was Program Administrator and Choral Director of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices program in Boston, heading up an initiative to bring choral singing to underserved populations in challenging educational environments. Dr. Burton spent the earliest years of his career as the Choral and Orchestra Director at the prestigious Weston High School in Connecticut and has held summer faculty appointments at the Hartwick College Summer Music Festival & Institute in New York and New England Music Camp in Maine.

An active scholar with one book and some seventy articles, reviews, and performing editions to his credit, Dr. Burton is the Chief Editor of Publications of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. In this capacity, he is one of six executive officers of a national professional organization for which he edits their peer-reviewed journal, The Choral Scholar, and manages their highly selective choral music publication arm, the NCCO Choral Series, which is distributed by the ECS Publishing Group.

A summa cum laude music education graduate of The Hartt School – University of Hartford, where he studied with the late Paul Oakley and Edward Bolkovac, Sean Burton completed his master’s degree in conducting at Boston University as a pupil of Ann Howard Jones and David Hoose. He continued his education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting as a student of Pete Eklund and Therees Hibbard. He has worked with many choral luminaries in competitive conducting fellowship or master class settings including Rodney Eichenberger, Dennis Keene, the late Weston Noble, Dale Warland, Jon Washburn, Mack Wilberg, and Duain Wolfe.