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).
The Knights’ 2015-16 season kicks off at Caramoor, a regular stop for the ensemble, with a performance featuring cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma. The group will be in residence at Brooklyn’s BRIC House, as part of a series of New York City residencies undertaken with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. On Gil Shaham’s 1930’s Violin Concertos, Vol. 2, to be released in February, The Knights join the master violinist on Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto. The group teams up again with Shaham for a North American tour with stops in Baltimore, Toronto, Chicago and Atlanta. Other season highlights include a new collaboration with French pianist Lise de la Salle and residencies at Dartmouth, Penn State and Washington D.C.’s Dumbarton Oaks.
Recent season 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; frequent festival appearances at Ravinia and Tanglewood; and seven 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, Dawn Upshaw, 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 are also founding members of 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.