The Knights

SundayArts Host Paula Zahn provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Brooklyn-based orchestra that is changing the face of classical music

The rebirth of classical music is taking shape in the heart of New York City and its leaders are an unlikely group of Brooklyn hipsters who equally revere Handel and Hendrix. Fueled by hard work, passion, and a quest for fun, The Knights are not your parents’ symphony orchestra. On Thursday, September 8th at 8:30 pm ET on THIRTEEN and at 10:15 pm ET on WLIW21, Paula Zahn, host of SundayArts, takes the viewer on a musical journey with an ensemble that is changing the face of classical music.

The Knights is a presentation of Creative News Group in association with WNET New York Public Media, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and arts programming to the New York community.

The Knights are an orchestra and a fellowship of young adventurous musicians on a mission: to transform how audiences experience classical music. Highly trained musicians who have been friends since their conservatory days, many of The Knights are barely 30-years-old. Still, they’ve reached a breakthrough moment in their careers by expanding the orchestral concert experience with their diverse programming, innovative formats, and a unique atmosphere of camaraderie.

Footage includes interviews with the main players and performances in Central Park, Lincoln Center, Caramoor and Germany. The program also includes interviews with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Fred Child, host of American Public Media’s “Performance Today” classical radio show.

The driving force behind the orchestra’s success are charismatic brothers Eric and Colin Jacobsen, the orchestra’s conductor and concertmaster. Born and raised in Great Neck, New York by career musician parents, and graduates of the music school at Juilliard, music is in the brothers’ blood.

“We’ve been given extraordinary access to both the creative process that goes into The Knights’ rehearsals as well as the collaborative process of Eric and Colin Jacobsen,” said Zahn. “The viewers will see first hand in this new documentary how a Knight’s concert is an experience of infectious joy.”

According to The New Yorker, “few ensembles are as adept at mixing old music with new.” The Knights have played Europe’s most prestigious venues and downtown New York nightclubs. They breathe new life into Beethoven, Dvorak, and Copland and arrange Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley tunes. They collaborate regularly with legendary artists like Ma and premiere new works by emerging composers. Many members of The Knights bring talents that go beyond traditional orchestral skills; there are composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers who bring a range of cultural influences to the group from jazz and klezmer genres to pop and indie rock music.

Funding for The Knights was made possible through support of Carmela and Paul Haklisch, Friends of Thirteen, Inc. Dorothy Pacella Fund and The Metropolitan Media Fund.

Executive Producer and writer is Mary Lockhart. Editor is Darren Peister. Associate Producers are Daniel Cowen, Daniel T. Allen and Darren Peister. Host is Paula Zahn. For Creative News Group: General Manager is Mary Lockhart. For WNET: Executive-in-Charge is Stephen Segaller. A Creative News Group presentation in association with WNET New York Public Media.


About WNET New York Public Media

WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed PBS series as Great Performances, American Masters, Nature, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through SundayArts, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.