Nicholas Isherwood

France/United States

Nicholas Isherwood is a Franco-American bass singer, who specializes in contemporary and barroque music.

He studied with Richard Miller at the Oberlin Conservatory and College (B.M., B.A.) and privately in Italy (with Sara Sforni Corti and Roberto Benaglio). He completed a DEA in musicology with a thesis on the vocal vibrato at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, together with the Ecole Normale Supérieure and IRCAM under the direction of Hugues Dufourt and Doctor Marc Yana.

 Nicholas Isherwood has sung in the world’s leading festivals (Salzburg, Aix, Festival d’Automne, Avignon, Almeida, Biennale di Venezia, Holland Festival, Munich Biennale, Wien Modern, Händel Festivals in Göttingen and Halle, Tanglewood, Ravinia, etc.) and opera houses (Royal Opera House, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Lyon, Châtelet, Théatre des Champs Elysées, Rome, Torino, Genova, La Fenice, La Scala, etc.), working with conductors such as Joel Cohen, William Christie, Zubin Mehta, Helmuth Rilling, David Robertson and Arturo Tamayo.

He has improvised with Steve Lacy, Joelle Léandre, David Moss and Sainkho Namtchilak.

He has made 55 compact discs for labels such as Erato and Harmonia Mundi and has appeared in three films for television.

As a composer, Nicholas Isherwood’s music has been influenced by the great composers he has had the privilege to work with as a singer.

His music has been performed at venues such as the Gewandthaus in Leipzig, the Goethe Institut in Paris, the CNRS, Freiburg, the MDR in Halle, the SWR, Vanderbilt University, the University of Oregon, Kaoshung, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Togamura, Japan.

He has received commissions from the DRAC du centre, Art Zoyd and the CNAT in Reims. Isherwood’s music has been performed by VOXNOVA, Stefano Cardi, Michel Amoric, Magnus Andersson, Isabel Soccoja, Christophe De Villeneuve and the soloists of the MDR children’s choir. His music has been broadcast by France Musique, the MDR and the SWR. He is a member of the SACD.  

 Nicholas Isherwood’s first experience as a stage director was Bruno Maderna’s opera Satyricon at the Carré St. Vincent in Orléans, France in 1990. He supervised the lighting, staging, costumes and programming of his sextet, VOXNOVA, from 1992-2008, notably directing Luciano Berio’s A-ronne in Alicante, Reims, Paris, Royaumont, Perpignan and Togamura, Japan.

In addition, Isherwood had an extremely active pedagogical career.

He has taught master classes for over twenty years. This has brought him to the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Xenakis summer courses in Paris, the Abbaye de Royaumont, Ars Musica in Brussels, the Reims Conservatory, IRCAM, the CCMIX, the Paris Conservatoire, the ARIAM Ile de France (two courses), the University of Washington, Cal State San Francisco, the Cologne Conservatory (summer program in Montepulciano), Calarts, the ARIAM Ile de France, the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milano, the Institute for the Living Voice (Berlin), UNAM and CENART in Mexico City, the Normal University in Taiwan, the conservatory of Morelia (Mexico), the Wellington University (New Zealand).

He has lectured at the Hôpital Foch in Paris, the Leipzig University, the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Normal University in Taiwan, Stanford University, UCSB and IRCAM.  He has participated in panel discussions at the University of Toronto with Helmuth Rilling.

Isherwood co-taught a semester long course on voice and electronics with Harvard Professor Hans Tutschku at the Montbéliard Conservatory.


<< Participating in Human Signs was an opportunity to make an offering in a time of artistic atrophy due to the prioritization of corporate objectives by neo liberal governments worldwide. Being able to sing a lamentation for the wailing wall of the computer screen with a community of committed artists was cathartic and healing.  My goal is not to replace live performance with a sterile ‘live stream,’ but to conjure it back.  Thank you, Yuval.>>