Japanese-American conductor Eiki Isomura is in his fifth season as artistic director and principal conductor of Opera in the Heights (OH) in Houston, where he has led over a hundred performances of over twenty-five operas, drawing consistent praise for elevating the company’s performance standard: “The orchestra has never sounded so focused,” wrote the Houston Press, “Down the line, this is ensemble-playing of fine caliber… The OH chorus is ultra-fine, smooth and lustrous… Maestro Isomura deserves our thanks.”
During his tenure at OH, Maestro Isomura commissioned female Arab and Muslim American composer Jonia Jarrar’s Seven Spells in 2020, and Black American composer Steve Wallace’s Unsung Activist in 2021, while developing a partnership with the Holocaust Museum Houston to co-produce Derrick Wang’s Scalia / Ginsburg as part of the museum’s Notorious RBG exhibit. In 2019, Isomura collaborated with Pacific Opera Project (POP) artistic director, Josh Shaw, as co-librettists in creating a Japanese-English bilingual production of Madama Butterfly. The co-production between POP and OH won an Opera America Innovation Grant and has drawn critical acclaim and field-wide attention as a compelling solution to the opera’s many problems.
Upcoming engagements include a debut with Opera Philadelphia for Hosokawa’s The Raven. A passionate advocate for new music, Isomura launched OHs’ first-ever new works festival, has co-commissioned/produced five operas, and has led numerous world premieres with MUSIQA, Houston’s leading new music collective. He conducted the world premiere of Laura Schwendinger’s chamber opera Cabaret of Shadows; concert premieres of Marcus Maroney’s Velvet and Trevor Weston’s Stars; the Houston premiere of Mack & McGuire’s Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena, and Piazzola’s María de Buenos Aires, which he led from the piano, drawing praise from the Houston Press: “Isomura seems to have lived another life in Argentina for the love and passion he imbues in the score.”
Prior to his time at OH, Maestro Isomura served on the music staff of Arizona Opera and HGOco, preparing the workshops and world premieres of numerous chamber operas for Houston Grand Opera. His educational activities have included work with Opera in the Ozarks, Lone Star College, and guest music director of opera at Temple University. In addition to his work as conductor, producer, educator, and sometimes librettist/translator, Isomura is a sought-after adjudicator of vocal competitions and panelist for arts organizations. Maestro Isomura serves on the Opera America Artistic Services Council and holds a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Kenneth Kiesler, who also mentored him as a conducting fellow at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.