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. As co-founder and Artistic Director of the adventurous orchestra The Knights and a founding member of the genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Jacobsen, along with his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, was awarded a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship in 2012. In the 2015-16 season, Jacobsen celebrates his inaugural season as Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic and his second season both as Music Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta.
Jacobsen founded The Knights with his brother, Colin, to foster the intimacy and camaraderie of chamber music on the orchestral stage; as the New Yorker reports, “few ensembles are as adept at mixing old music with new as the dynamic young Brooklyn orchestra.” As Music Director, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Ojai Music Festival, and international hot spots such as the Dresden Musikfestspiele and Cologne Philharmonie. Recent collaborators include cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Jan Vogler, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, and singers Dawn Upshaw, and Susan Graham.
Under Jacobsen’s baton, The Knights have an extensive recording collection that includes the ground beneath our feet, the ensemble’s first release for Warner Classics. Most recently a collaboration with Gil Shaham for Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 was released. The Knights previously issued three albums for Sony Classical- Jan Vogler and The Knights Experience: Live from New York, New Worlds, and all-Beethoven album partnering the Triple Concerto and Fifth Symphony- and the “smartly programmed” (NPR) A Second in Silence on the Ancalagon label. We Are The Knights, a documentary film produced by Thirteen/WNET, premiered in September 2011.
At the close of a successful debut season with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Jacobsen has already started a new trend in programing and community engagement. A particularly well received Mozart Magic Flute led to programming two opera productions in the 16-17 season with inventive directors Alison Moritz and Mary Birnbaum. Emanuel Ax and Steven Copes will be guests in a season based around Russian Masterworks and the celebration of American composer John Adams’ 70th birthday.
Also in demand as a guest conductor, Jacobsen has led and will lead the Camerata Bern, the symphonies Detroit and Alabama, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, and Silk Road Ensemble, besides touring with The Knights in the U.S. and Europe. A dedicated chamber musician, Jacobsen is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s venerated Silk Road Project and as a founding member of Brooklyn Rider, he has taken part in a wealth of world premieres and toured extensively in North America and Europe.
Mr. Jacobsen is a cellist and conductor residing in Brooklyn, New York. He has performed with Renee Fleming on David Letterman and at the inaugural concert at Zankel Hall at Carnegie. Mr. Jacobsen has also appeared with The Silk Road Ensemble at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics in Shanghai.
In 2006 Eric's brother, Colin a violinist,was in residence on NPR's 'Performance Today'. It was during this time that Eric and Colin and their long standing friends, Johnny Gandelsman and Nick Cords came together. Their strong camaraderie and mutual desire to work in the string quartet medium, led them to form Brooklyn Rider. The quartet has been touring together ever since. Their collaboration with the Iranian Kemanche master, Kayhan Kalhor inspired their first album 'Silent City'. The album includes arrangements and compositions by Mr. Kalhor and Colin Jacobsen. Brooklyn Rider's second album 'Passport' is a compilation of Armenian folk songs, arranged tunes and original compositions.
In addition, Mr. Jacobsen has appeared as soloist with the Riverside Orchestra, the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, the Greenwich Village Orchestra, the Lake George Chamber Orchestra and the Woodstock Festival Orchestra. The Children's Orchestra Society, and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. He regularly performs at Bargemusic, often playing with Steven Beck, with whom Mr. Jacobsen has collaborated with for 10 years.
Mr. Jacobsen is a member of Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. He has participated in residencies and performances in Azerbaijan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Switzerland and across the USA including The Art Institute of Chicago and The Hollywood Bowl.
Eric and Colin Jacobsen are the artistic directors of the orchestra The Knights with Eric Jacobsen conducting. The Knights have recorded two albums for SONY. 'Jan Vogler and The Knights, Experience Live from NY' featuring Shostakovich and Jimi Hendrix and 'New Worlds' featuring composers Ives, Osvaldo Golijov, Dvorak, Gabriella Lena Frank and centered around Copland's 'Appalachian Spring'.
In May of 2009, Mr Jacobsen led The Knights at the opening of the Dresden 'Musikfestspiele' with soloists Dawn Upshaw and Christina Courtin. Mr. Jacobsen is also the cellist in the Mark O'Connor String Quartet performing original works by the great American fiddler.
Mr. Jacobsen is involved in many student projects in universities as well as elementary, middle and high schools. He was recently appointed to the cello and chamber music faculty of NYU where he has also conducted the orchestra. Mr. Jacobsen studied at The School for Strings as a youngster and later graduated from The Juilliard School. He worked extensively with the late Harvey Shapiro, Joseph Elworthy, and considers Anner Bylsma and Yo Yo Ma instrumental influences in his playing.
In the summer time Mr. Jacobsen has toured numorous festivals, including Lucerne and Lincoln Center Out of Doors. In 2005 Mr. Jacobsen and the other members of the Brooklyn Rider became the Artistic Directors of The Stillwater Music Festival in Minnesota. Colin and Eric Jacobsen are honored to be the Artistic Directors of Musicians for Harmony, an organization dedicated to raising awareness to conflicted areas of the world.
Mr. Jacobsen can be heard on recordings with Yo Yo Ma, Bono, and Mark O'Connor.
Mr. Jacobsen plays a Giovanni Battista Genova cello crafted in Turin 1745