The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. The orchestra has toured and recorded with renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and have performed at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and the Vienna Musikverein.
Growing from a series of informal chamber music parties in friends’ living rooms, The Knights are led by Artistic Directors and brothers, Colin and Eric Jacobsen. The Knights are committed to creating unusual and adventurous partnerships across disciplines; they perform in traditional concert halls as well as parks, plazas, and bars, all in an effort to reach listeners of all backgrounds and invite them into their music-making. Since incorporating in 2007, the orchestra has toured consistently across the United States and Europe.
The Knights’ 2017-18 season kicks off with a concert at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park for a family concert with Lisa Loeb, followed by a performance at Naumburg Orchestral Concerts and festival appearances at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Jacob’s Pillow.
The Fall Season includes The Knights’ second Brooklyn Season, in residence at the multi-disciplinary Brooklyn venue BRIC, with performances in October, December, February, and April through an Evening Concert series and a Family Matinee series. Each program features The Knights’ distinctive exploratory and adventurous programming, and kicks off with October’s concert featuring world-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.
In 2015, The Knights launched a partnership with BRIC with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of that initiative, The Knights performed with master violinist Gil Shaham on a North American tour, and on Shaham's Grammy-nominated recording of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto. This partnership was continued when The Knights’ launched their first Brooklyn Home Season in 2016-17, in residence at BRIC. Each Home Season residency includes evening performances, family concerts, and engagement programs for local audiences, families, and public school students. The residencies allow The Knights to incubate their artistry and explorations at home, expanding connections within communities through music, before representing the best of Brooklyn around the globe. October saw the orchestra’s Opening Weekend, with a musical program featuring Master Peter’s Puppet Show, a multimedia concert with visual artist Kevork Mourad. December’s concerts celebrated a Brooklyn Schubertiade, showcasing local artists in an intimate salon evening of art, poetry, and music, where Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon read the world premiere of a new poem, set to music by The Knights. February’s program highlighted the world premiere of a new work by Andy Akiho, winner of the 2015 Rome Prize; and April showcased mainstays of classical canon alongside new Brooklyn composers, including works by Haydn, Mozart, and Gabriel Kahane.
Spring 2017 saw the release of The Knights’ new album Azul, featuring the world premiere recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s work "Azul" with soloist Yo-Yo Ma. The album received much critical praise. In April, The Knights debuted at the Kennedy Center, as part of the inaugural SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. The Knights then embarked on a European tour, beginning with a week-long residency at France’s Easter Festival in Aix-en-Provence, where they performed with renowned musicians including violinist Renaud Capuçon, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and pianist Bertrand Chamayou. The Knights were then joined by pipa virtuoso Wu Man on tour through Germany, including a performance in Hamburg’s newly opened Elbphilharmonie. The tour was met with tremendous praise from both critics and audiences.
The Knights are proud to be known as “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products…known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker). The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance. Through the palatable joy and friendship in their music-making, each musician strives to include new and familiar audiences to experience this important artform.