Nissen Isakov and his wife flew from Philadelphia to Denver on Thursday afternoon to watch their son, Gregory Alan Isakov, perform two sold-out nights with the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall. Isakov, a Boulder-based singer-songwriter, has gained a considerable following over the past decade for his yearning lyricism and sweet, lowdown stage presence.
Celebrating the 2016 release of the album, Gregory Alan Isakov With the Colorado Symphony, the eighty-member ensemble performed steadily, adding backbone and flourish to Isakov’s songs. His bandmates periodically hopped out of their seats, brandishing their instruments, to punctuate his unmistakably beautiful croon. The elder Isakov sat rapt, beaming in adoration. Clad in a bright-pink sweater, he walked the rows at intermission, hugging crew members, friends and his son’s fans, warmly accepting their praise of the performance.
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The Johannesburg-born Nissen Isakov immigrated with his family, to the United States in the mid-’80s, in the last years of Apartheid. South Africa’s political landscape was in flux, and he wanted to move, to try out an idea he had for an electronic-engineering business. Now, more than thirty years later, his Pennsylvania-based company makes electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference noise suppression filters for commercial and military use. While his profession revolves around the elimination of noise, Nissen couldn’t get enough of his son’s music.
Later, at the wrap party at the Four Seasons downtown, symphony members cradled mugs of hot tea while Nissen spoke passionately with the show’s wild-haired conductor, Christopher Dragon, about the evening’s performance. As the festivities wound down, Nissen said to a young musician, “You know, I think you were better tonight. You were very good last night, but, you know, there’s something about tonight that had a bit more magic.”