About The Knights
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 has appeared across the world’s most prestigious stages, including those at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, Ravinia, The Kennedy Center, and the Vienna Musikverein.
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. Since incorporating in 2007, the orchestra has toured consistently across the United States and Europe.
The Knights seek to share music with a broad general public regardless of background, and the group designs programs to appeal to both loyal followers and new listeners alike. The Knights perform in traditional concert halls as well as in parks, plazas, and bars, and create unusual and adventurous partnerships across disciplines. Counted among recent highlights are fully-staged performances of Bernstein's Candide at both Tanglewood and Ravinia; the release of a recording of the Brahms and Beethoven Violin Concertos with Gil Shaham; and a full 2021 summer season in a reawakened New York City, with performances at Central Parks’ Naumburg Bandshell, Bryant Park, Governors Island, and Green-Wood Cemetery.
The orchestra seeks out and prioritizes collaborative partnerships with artists often underrepresented in classical music. Recent seasons have included performances with Brooklyn-based Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra, with African musicians as part of William Kentridge’s The Head and the Load, and with a diverse group of contemporary composers and performers including Vijay Iyer, Kinan Azmeh, Angélica Negrón, and Jessie Montgomery, among others (For a complete list of artistic partners and collaborative projects, please visit our Partners page). The Knights also present a Family Concert series, with performances at venues such as BRIC in Brooklyn and virtual events available on YouTube and The Knights’ website. Accompanying education and engagement activities, in collaboration with five Brooklyn schools, reach over 400 students annually through in-class visits, workshops, and open rehearsals, all offered free of charge to the schools.
The Knights’ 2021-2022 season features collaborations with virtuoso pianist and composer Aaron Diehl and dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp; a new residency partnership with storied New York City venue 92Y; and the long-anticipated holiday album, The Knights Before Christmas, released in October 2021.
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). Their roster boasts musicians of 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. Through the palatable joy and friendship in their music-making, each musician strives to include new and familiar audiences to experience this important art form.