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 programming.
Jacobsen is Co-Artistic Director, and conductor of The Knights. and serves as the Music Director for the Orlando Philharmonic, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and as Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta. Jacobsen founded the adventurous orchestra The Knights with his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, to foster the intimacy and camaraderie of chamber music on the orchestral stage. As conductor, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at such venues as Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, and summer music festivals at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Ojai, and international venues such as the Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, the Salzburg Großes Festspielhaus, the Vienna Musikverein, National Gallery of Dublin, and the Dresden Musikfestspiele,. In their spring 2017 European tour, Jacobsen conducted The Knights in the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and completed a week-long residency with them at the Easter Festival (Festival de Pâques) in Aix-en-Provence. Recent collaborators include violinist Itzhak Perlman, singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, and Nicholas Phan, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Under Jacobsen’s baton, The Knights have developed an extensive recording collection, which includes the recently released, critically acclaimed albums Azul, with longtime collaborator Yo-Yo Ma, as well as the Prokofiev Concerto in the Grammy-nominated Gil Shaham album 1930s Violin Concertos. The Knights issued three albums for Sony Classical including Jan Vogler and The Knights Experience: Live from New York; New Worlds, and an all Beethoven Album, as well as the “smartly programmed” (National Public Radio) A Second in Silence on the Ancalagon label. Jacobsen’s first release on Warner Classics was the ground beneath our feet. We Are The Knights, a documentary film produced by Thirteen/WNET, premiered in September 2011.
At the close of a successful second season with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacobsen has begun to pioneer the orchestra’s programming and community engagement in new and exciting directions. A particularly well received Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte led to the programming of two opera productions in the 2016-2017 season with directors Alison Moritz and Mary Birnbaum. The “charming and funny” (Orlando Sentinel) production of Bernstein’s Candide at the Orlando Philharmonic will be remounted and tour with The Knights in the 2018-2019 season. Jacobsen is also in demand as a guest conductor, and led Camerata Bern in the first European performance of Mark O’Connor’s American Seasons, with the composer as soloist. He has conducted the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Detroit, Alabama, the New World, Naples, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck.
A dedicated chamber musician, Jacobsen is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, participating in residencies and performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and across the U.S., Central Asia, Middle East, Far East, and Europe. In addition, as a founding member of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider -- dubbed “one of the wonders of contemporary music” (Los Angeles Times) -- he has taken part in a wealth of world premieres and toured extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia, and is credited with helping to ensure “the future of classical music in America” (Los Angeles Times).
In December 2012, Jacobsen and his brother Colin were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. Eric splits his time between New York and Orlando. He is married to singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and recently become a parent.
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