Insights with Isengart

By Louisa Shepherd

We’re just one short week away from our season opener at the historic Emery Theatre in Over-The-Rhine downtown. Putting Frankenstein!! together has been a huge undertaking and we’re very excited to see the final production. One of the highlights of the show will be having Daniel Isengart collaborate with our concert:nova musicians; it’s a show you do not want to miss!

Isengart, a German native and master of cabaret, describes his performances as a “mix of the vintage and the contemporary. “I make the past accessible, then modernize it,” he says.  His role in concert:nova’s presentation of HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!! is a bit unorthodox—it involves anywhere from speaking and whispering to exaggerated operatic singing and shrieking. “I’m the only vocal part in this piece,” says Isengart. “Right now I’m working on it in New York with a student from the Manhattan School of Music to help me learn the score.” This experience is unique in that it is a true collaboration between the ensemble musicians and the vocalist, or chansonnier. “It has its own special challenges because it’s so orchestral in nature which is also a great treat for me; cabaret singers rarely have the oportunity to sing with a large ensemble,” Isengart says.

Last week I got to chat with Daniel about music, performance, inspiration and everything in-between. He’s incredibly thoughtful and a joy to speak to. Seeing him perform live on stage will be a very special treat.

Q & A With Daniel Isengart

Q: What is cabaret? How would you compare it to chamber music?
A: Cabaret and chamber music have a lot of parallels—Cabaret is a bit like the bastard child of chamber music. It’s similar to chamber music in that it is presented in a very intimate setting. Cabaret originated in Europe as a way for artists to entertain each other. It has a critical edge, but it’s meant for entertainment at the same time. In America, cabaret is very much about a social experience and is characterized by interaction between the audience and the performer.

Q: In your early 20s you left Europe for New York. What drew you there?
A: I came to New York because I wanted a creative life. You make up your own rules in cabaret. I was drawn to that. New York is a city where you make your own rules and shape your own reality. I wanted to be surrounded by people from all of the different disciplines. I was very much drawn to American popular music and New York is the hub for the type of work that I do.

Q: What is your favorite style of music to perform?
A: In the end it’s all music. I just like good material. I look for material that is intelligent, creative, and calls for a personalized interpretation. Cabaret is all about the style of performance; you mold the song to yourself. You personalize it, you make it accessible, and you make it intimate.

Q: Have you ever performed Frankenstein!! before?
A: I’ve never performed Frankenstein before so this will be my premiere. I’m a little bit nervous but I’m excited and I’m also so happy to be performing in the Emery Theatre. I am always glad to hear when a theatre such as this is being restored. It’s a part of history and American culture. These revival efforts are so important and I am very happy to be a part of it.

Q: What is one of your most memorable collaborations?
A: I worked together with Edwin Outwater, Measha Brueggergosman and the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony in 2011 and it was incredible. I’m really looking forward to working with Edwin again on the Frankenstein!! project. Edwin has also conducted the piece with the composer, HK Gruber, in San Fansico. I’ve also collaborated with many of my cabaret peers in New York. Cabaret is always a collaboration. That’s when the sparks really happen.

Q: Who inspires you?
A: Anyone who is living creatively and applies themselves fully to what their task is; any one who lives passionately…and has a sense of humor–That’s who inspires me. These are the things that make an interesting life.

Q: What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve found about being a musician?
A: Definitely being able to be “inside” of music. Music is shaped time. When you’re in music, you’re actively shaping time. Time is functioning’s richer when you’re making music. Time ceases to exist because every moment is so powerful.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of performing?
A: I like to read. I also like to cook; I enjoy entertaining guests and having people over to visit and have dinner. I have a partner who is a conceptual artist, so I also enjoy being involved in the world of contemporary art.

We’re so excited to welcome Daniel Isengart to Cincinnati for our upcoming shows of Frankenstein!!. “I’ve never been to Cincinnati but I hear great things about it,” he says.

Remember, concert:nova will be performing Frankenstein!! with Daniel Isengart onFriday Oct 19 and Sunday Oct 21 at the Emery Theatre! visit our website for more info and to purchase a ticket before it’s too late! And if you happen to find yourself craving a bit of cabaret at its finest, check out Daniel Isengart at 8pm on Saturday October 20 at The Incline Lounge at the Celestial (1071 Celestial Street Cincinnati, OH 45202) Click HERE for tickets.

For more information about Daniel Isengart visit

concert:nova presents “FRANKENSTEIN!!”

by Louisa Shepherd

Fall is just around the corner and we are happy to announce the beginning of our sixth season! This year is going to be jam packed with great new music, fun collaborations and some pretty cool new venues. Our season opener features HK Gruber’s FRANKENSTEIN!! The concert is being held downtown at the Emery Theater on October 19 and 21. It’s a perfect way to get in the Halloween spirit!

Here are the details…

concert:nova, the city’s most innovative chamber music ensemble, opens its sixth season with two performances of HK Gruber’s FRANKENSTEIN!! on October 19 &21 at 8:00pm in Over-The-Rhine’s historic Emery Theater.

In 1978 H.K. Gruber achieved international fame in 1978 with FRANKENSTEIN!!, a twisted variation on children’s rhymes perfectly suited for the Halloween season. But this “pan-demonium” for chansonnier and chamber ensemble is anything but child’s play.

Concert:nova’s season opener will feature chansonnier Daniel Isengart, a German native and prolific master of the cabaret. His unorthodox narrative role involves speaking, whispering, exaggerated operatic singing and shrieking. He’s accompanied by the musicians of concert:nova performing on toy instruments, creating an alien world of sound. Cincinnati assemblage artist, Peter Haberkorn, created 36 original artworks to accompany the music and illuminate the score of FRANKENSTEIN!! Haberkorn is known for his three-dimensional collages made from found material and scavenged objects.

This highlight of Cincinnati’s fall arts season will take place at the historical and recently rediscovered Emery Theater. Plans for the theater’s revival are in the works and depend on the support of our city and arts organizations; in lighting up the theater, concert:nova hopes to bring awareness to the importance of restoring it.

Tickets for FRANKENSTEIN!! are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Student tickets are available for $10 with student ID. Click HERE to purchase a ticket or call us at 513.739.NOVA for more details.

Interested in a season subscription? Purchase a NOVA:PASS today! for more info on our upcoming season visit We hope to see you soon!