The Knights are an orchestral collective, flexible in size and repertory, dedicated to transforming the concert experience. Engaging listeners and defying boundaries with programs that showcase the players’ roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery, The Knights have “become one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products, … known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (New Yorker).
In 2016-17, The Knights continue to build connections and revitalize orchestral music within their vibrant Brooklyn community. Having established a special partnership with the borough’s BRIC Arts and Media House last season, they return to the venue for another year-long residency, with eight concerts spread throughout the season featuring repertoire ranging from De Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show to world premieres and local composer showcases. The season also brings a Warner Classics album featuring longtime collaborator and superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma; an EP release of Gabriel Kahane’s song cycle about the Brooklyn Bridge, Crane Palimpsest, with the composer himself on vocals; tours of France and Germany; a residency at the inaugural SHIFT Festival in Washington, DC; a performance with mezzo Joyce DiDonato at Sing Sing Correctional Facility; and the New York premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s song cycle Unremembered, which The Knights also look forward to performing at Tennessee’s Big Ears Music Festival.
Last season, the collective launched its BRIC partnership as part of a series of New York City residencies undertaken with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of that initiative, The Knights performed with Gil Shaham on a North American tour, and on the master violinist’s recording of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto. Other recent highlights include The Knights’ debut at Carnegie Hall in the New York premiere of the Steven Stucky/Jeremy Denk opera The Classical Style; a U.S. tour with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck; a European tour with soprano Dawn Upshaw, including the group’s debut at Vienna’s Musikverein; residencies at Dartmouth, Penn State and Washington D.C.’s Dumbarton Oaks; frequent festival appearances at Ravinia, Caramoor, and Tanglewood; and eight years of free summer performances at Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts and Bryant Park. In recent years The Knights have collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Lise de la Salle, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Joshua Redman, Silk Road virtuoso Siamak Aghaei, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. Recordings include 2015’s “instinctive and appealing” (The Times, UK) the ground beneath our feet on Warner Classics, featuring the ensemble’s first original group composition; an all-Beethoven disc on Sony Classical (their third project with the label); and 2012’s “smartly programmed” (NPR) A Second of Silence for Ancalagon.
The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsen brothers, who also founded the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor. In December 2012, the Jacobsens were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship.
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.