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Robert Isaacs (Counter-tenor, Choral Conductor)

Born: USA

The American counter-tenor and choral conductor, Robert Isaacs, graduated with high honors from Harvard University, where he designed his own course of study in choral music. After a stint as a juggler and unicyclist on the streets of San Francisco, he spent a year as a Trustman Fellow, researching choral rehearsal psychology throughout England and Scandinavia.

In 2013, Robert Isaacs was appointed director of choral activities at Cornell University, a position generously supported by Priscilla E. Browning. Prior to his arrival at Cornell, Robert ran choral programs at Princeton University and the Manhattan School of Music, and served as interim director of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. He has worked as a guest conductor with ensembles on both sides of the Atlantic, including Laudibus, Cerddorion, Amuse, TENET, and the Vox Vocal Ensemble. His recordings have been released by Priory Records, Delphian Records, and the BBC. He made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with the Argento New Music Project, and has also conducted at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Snape Proms, the Guggenheim Museum, and other venues ranging from Stockholm to the Cook Islands.

As a specialist in musicianship training and sightsinging, Robert Isaacs has led workshops with a wide range of choirs, developed curricula for several institutions, published articles on eartraining pedagogy in Church Music Quarterly, and given lectures at Oxford University, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the Uppingham School. He has served on the voice faculties of the City University of New York and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, in addition to running his own studio.

Robert Isaacs has appeared as a counter-tenor soloist with choirs and orchestras of many stripes, including Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue, Polyphony Voices of New Mexico, Musica Sacra, the Wells Oratorio Society, Trinity Wall Street Choir, the Gotham City Baroque Orchestra, etc. He regularly tours and records with Pomerium, the Vox Vocal Ensemble, the Clarion Music Society, and other ensembles. He has sung with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, accompanied the Mark Morris Dance Group on tour in Russia, and performed twice in Jonathan Miller’s staged J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006.

In 2002, Robert Isaacs earned an MFA in creative writing at Columbia University; he has published articles on travel and politics in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun. His musical arrangements are published by the Royal School of Church Music.

Source: Cornell University Department of Music Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2016)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Douglas Keilitz


Audio (2008): BWV 66

Links to other Sites

Robert Isaacs (Cornell University Department of Music)


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