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.
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 New York venues ranging from Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the 92nd Street Y to Central Park and (Le) Poisson Rouge, besides such international hot spots as the Dresden Musikfestspiele, Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, and National Gallery of Dublin. Among their recent collaborations are two German tours with cellist Jan Vogler, and performances with many of classical music’s brightest stars, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, and soprano Dawn Upshaw. In addition, The Knights were in residence at the 2014 Ojai Music Festival where Jacobsen led several concerts that featured collaborations with pianist and festival music director Jeremy Denk and singer Storm Large.
Under Jacobsen’s baton, The Knights have an extensive recording collection that includes January’s release of the ground beneath our feet, the ensemble’s first for Warner Classics. The Knights previously issued three albums for Sony Classical: Jan Vogler and The Knights Experience: Live from New York juxtaposes Shostakovich with Jimi Hendrix, while New Worlds celebrates the Americas with works by Copland, Ives, Dvorák, Osvaldo Golijov, and Gabriela Lena Frank. Most recently, Jacobsen and The Knights released an all-Beethoven album partnering the Triple Concerto and Fifth Symphony. On the Ancalagon label, the ensemble released A Second in Silence: a “smartly programmed” (NPR) album pairing Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony with the minimalism of Philip Glass, Erik Satie, and Morton Feldman. We Are The Knights, a documentary film produced by Thirteen/WNET, premiered in September 2011.
Also in demand as a guest conductor, Jacobsen led Camerata Bern in the first European performance of Mark O’Connor’s American Seasons, with the composer as soloist. This past season he directed the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and soloist Wu Man in a program of Beethoven, Debussy, and Lou Harrison; performed Schubert, Jennifer Higdon, and Morton Feldman for his Alabama Symphony debut; premiered Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s Sacred Signs in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall with the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma, and returned to Columbus, Ohio to lead the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. In the 2014-15 season Jacobsen celebrates his first season as Music Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta. He also looks forward to guest conducting the Orlando Philharmonic, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, 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, participating in residencies and performances at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and across the U.S., as well as in Azerbaijan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Switzerland. As a founding member of 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 and Europe. His numerous recordings with the two ensembles include Brooklyn Rider’s recent A Walking Fire, which the Boston Globe praised as an “important statement about cultural curiosity and musical interconnection.”
Jacobsen serves on the faculty of New York University, conducting its orchestras and teaching both cello and chamber music. An avid educator, he has also led collaborative concerts in which Children’s Orchestra Society students sit alongside members of The Knights.
photo by Sarah Small
photo by Sarah Small