As a child, Paul Griffin, M.M.S.M. 2020, was fascinated by the pipe organ at his church, St. Mary’s of the Visitation in Holton, Maine. He figured out how to read music while examining his older brother’s piano music and his grandmother’s edition of Bach’s “Two-Part Inventions.”
“I basically figured out how to read music on my own,” Griffin says, “so my parents said, ‘OK, we’ll put you in lessons.’ We had a collection of CDs, and one of them was a Gregorian chant CD. I would listen to those chants and I would think, ‘Why is this music so beautiful?’”
His father is a guitarist and all of his five siblings are musicians, too. Though he loves music of all kinds — he dreamed, for a while, of forming a punk rock band — his overarching love for sacred music in general, and Bach in particular, eventually brought him to the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.
“Bach’s music is of the highest order,” Griffin says. “Every note he wrote is perfect. Many musicians say it was inspired by God. It’s truly divine music, and it reflects a lot of theology — for example, the ‘Clavier-Übung III’ has many references to Trinitarian theology written into the score.”
The University not only gave him ample opportunity to perform the sacred music he loves, it awarded him a full scholarship and graduate assistantship. He met an undergraduate soprano, Sophia Anastasi, who earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance in 2020. They married and are living in Odenton, Md.
Originally, Griffin planned to give his public master’s recital last spring, but the COVID pandemic prompted a postponement. Eventually, he submitted his recital online in November.
Now, Griffin is a general music teacher and director of choirs at St. Peter’s School on Capitol Hill, with students in grades K through 8. The music program at St. Peter’s Church is directed by another University alumnus, Kevin O’Brien, D.M.A. 2011.
“I couldn’t be happier with life right now,” Griffin says. “It’s wonderful.”