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The Knights

Brooklyn, NY            

The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. The orchestra has toured and recorded with renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Bela Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and have performed at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and the Vienna Musikverien.

Growing from a series of informal chamber music parties in friends’ living rooms, The Knights are led by Artistic Directors and brothers, Colin and Eric Jacobsen. Since incorporating in 2007, the orchestra has toured consistently across the United States and Europe. The Knights are committed to creating unusual and adventurous partnerships across disciplines; they perform in traditional concert halls as well as parks, plazas, and bars, all in an effort to reach listeners of all backgrounds and invite them into their music-making.

During the 2016-17 Season, The Knights launch their first Home Season with a residency at BRIC, a multi-disciplinary venue in downtown Brooklyn. Each residency allows the orchestra to present evening performances, family concerts, and engagement programs for local audiences, families, and public school students. The residency allows The Knights to incubate their artistry and explorations at home, expanding connections within communities through music, before representing the best of Brooklyn around the globe. October showcases the 1920’s work Master Peter’s Puppet Show with live illustrations and animation by artist Kevork Mourad; December’s concerts celebrates a Brooklyn Schubertiade, showcasing local artists in an intimate salon evening of art, poetry, and music; February’s program highlights the world premiere of a new work by Andy Akiho, winner of the 2015 Rome Prize; and April’s concerts present mainstays of classical canon alongside new Brooklyn composers, including works by Haydn, Mozart, and Gabriel Kahane.

In addition, Spring 2017 will see the release of The Knights’ new album featuring Yo-Yo Ma on works by Osvaldo Golijov, Dvorak, and Sufjan Stevens. In March, The Knights will debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where the orchestra will help launch the inaugural SHIFT Festival. Selected through a nationwide process, The Knights will perform an exciting program with the San Francisco Girls Chorus of works by Vivaldi, Brahms, Lisa Bielawa, and Aaron Jay Kernis. Directly following the Kennedy Center appearance, The Knights will travel to Europe for a residency in Aix-en-Provence, and performances throughout Germany.

Over recent seasons, The Knights have experienced exponential growth, both artistically and administratively. The orchestra has appeared at the Tanglewood and Ojai Music Festivals, and collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Jeremy Denk, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and the Joshua Redman Quartet, among others. Recordings include the Warner Classics-released 2015 live album, the ground beneath our feet, featuring Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks and original works by members of the ensemble; an all-Beethoven disk released in 2013 on Sony Classical (the orchestra’s third project with the label); and 2012’s “smartly programmed” (NPR) A Second of Silence on Ancalagon Records.

The Knights are proud to be known as “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products…known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker). The Knights’ roster boasts remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers, who bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from jazz and klezmer to pop and indie rock music. The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance. Through the palatable joy and friendship in their music-making, each musician strives to include new and familiar audiences to experience this important artform.

Colin Jacobsen, Artistic Director

As the Washington Post observes, violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen is “one of the most interesting figures on the classical music scene.”A founding member of two game-changing, audience-expanding ensembles – the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and orchestra The Knights – he is also a touring member of Yo-Yo Ma’s venerated Silk Road Project and an Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning violinist. Jacobsen’s work as a composer developed as a natural outgrowth of his chamber and orchestral collaborations. Jointly inspired by encounters with leading exponents of non-western traditions and by his own classical heritage, his most recent compositions for Brooklyn Rider include “Three Miniatures” – “vivacious, deftly drawn sketches” (New York Times) – which were written for the reopening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Islamic art galleries. Jacobsen collaborated with Iran’s Siamak Aghaei to write a Persian folk-inflected composition,“Ascending Bird,” which he performed as soloist with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, in a concert that was streamed live by millions of viewers worldwide. His work for dance and theater includes Chalk and Soot, a collaboration with Dance Heginbotham, and music for Compagnia de’ Colombari’s theatrical production of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

Eric Jacobsen, Artistic Director

Hailed by the New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative projects. Jacobsen is the founder and Artistic Director The Knights and a founding member of the genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider.  As conductor of The Knights, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at New York venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to Central Park, and at renowned international halls such as the Vienna Musikverein and Cologne Philharmonie.  In the 2015-16 season, Jacobsen celebrates his inaugural season as Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic and his second season as both Music Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta. Also in demand as a guest conductor, Jacobsen has recently led the Camerata Bern, the Detroit Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

Gabriel Kahane – Crane Palimpsest (excerpt)

Recorded live in Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood on July 19, 2016. Guitar and vocals by Gabe Kahane. Lyrics by Gabe Kahane and Hart Crane.

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Aaron J. Kernis – Remembering the Sea (excerpt)

Recorded live by The Knights at Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of the NY Phil Biennial on June 9, 2016. Featuring the San Francisco Girls Chorus, with text by Kai Hoffman-Krull.

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Igor Stravinsky – Concerto in E-Flat, “Dumbarton Oaks,” Mvt. I – Tempo giusto

Recorded live by The Knights at the Dumbarton Oaks estate on October 7-8, 2013. Produced by Jesse Lewis and released on “the ground beneath our feet,” Warner Classics, 2015.

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