Born in Philadelphia, Rex David Isenberg (b. 1987) began his musical life as a jazz pianist and vocalist before applying his talents as a composer. Described as “fiercely expressive” (Kevin MacFarland, JACK Quartet), Mr. Isenberg’s music has garnered recognition from ASCAP and has been heard on National Public Radio (NPR) and Sirius XM radio as well as at venues including the DiMenna Center (New York City), the Národní Muzeum (National Museum) (Prague, Czech Republic), Escuela Nacional de Música (Mexico City, Mexico), and others around the world. Blending a diverse array of styles, Mr. Isenberg seeks to explore the human experience in his music by revisiting watershed moments in history and infusing them with renewed meaning for contemporary audiences. Mr. Isenberg received his B.A. in Music from Yale University, where he studied composition with Kathryn Alexander, Michael Klingbeil, and Missy Mazzoli. He graduated with a Masters of Music from Manhattan School of Music in 2012, studying composition with Richard Danielpour, and returned to MSM in 2013 to pursue his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in the studio of Reiko Fueting.
Rex Isenberg has been selected 2016-17 Composer-In-Residence for Choral Chameleon, a dynamic chamber choir in New York City, who has commissioned three new works to be premiered this season. These include Feathers in the Wind, a setting of a medieval Yiddish folktale, premiered in November 2016, Concerto for Piano and Choir, premiered in March 2017 with pianist Robert Fleitz, and The Beautiful, a set of variations on America The Beautiful for a cappella choir to be premiered in June 2017. In July 2017, Mr. Isenberg will be in residence at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for their first annual Pianist-Composer Collaborative to work with his collaborator, pianist Clare Longendyke, and the world's leading new music pianists to develop new and innovative repertoire for piano. Last season, Mark Shapiro and The Cecilia Chorus of New York reprised Mr. Isenberg's Messiahs: False and True with two-time Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) as the narrator. Messiahs: False and True, a concert-length oratorio for choir, organ, bass drum, and narrator, was commissioned and premiered by Cantori New York in 2015, narrated by Tony-nominee and Obie-winner Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America, Wit). Other 2016 highlights have included the release of a studio recording of Das Stunden-Buch: Four Songs on Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke on sTem’s debut album Lieder/Canciones, the premiere of a new work for flute and piano at Spectrum NYC by Isabel Gleicher and Sophia Vastek, and the European premiere of a Hebrew choral work, Ravta et rivam, at the rededication of the Wenkheim Synagogue in Wenkheim, Germany. Mr. Isenberg's work has previously been performed and recorded by JACK Quartet, Manhattan Saxophone Quartet, Uptown Brass, Washington Square Winds, Cantori New York, MSM Symphony, Yale Concert Band, MIVOS Quartet, sTem, percussionist Ian Rosenbaum, violists Jessica Meyer and Miranda Cuckson, New Triad for Collaborative Arts, the NOW Ensemble, and Gamelan Suprabanggo.
An accomplished singer, Mr. Isenberg has performed on six continents as a member of the Yale Alley Cats and The Yale Whiffenpoofs, America’s oldest collegiate a cappella group. Between 2005 and 2009, Isenberg performed in 31 countries and 25 states, singing for audiences which have included the U.S. Ambassadors to China, Lithuania, and Chile, the Consul General of Mexico, and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He is also an active performer of Indonesian classical music and a member of Gamelan Kusuma Laras, New York’s premiere Javanese gamelan ensemble, with whom he performed at Lincoln Center’s 2011 White Light Festival and at the Consulate General of Indonesia in New York City in 2012.
Rex currently resides with his partner Matt in Los Angeles, California.