“Few ensembles are as adept at mixing old music with new as the dynamic young Brooklyn orchestra”
The New Yorker
“…brought the music to life in a way that was devoid of elitism, awkwardness, and – even on a cold February night – coughing.“
The New York Times
“…the Knights are a chamber orchestra with an exciting degree of vividness in both new music and old”
The Indianapolis Star
“Talk about a connection. Many artists draw close through music, but these two are actually related, as brother and sister. And it shows. Teaming up for Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Lara and Scott St. John deliver an intimate, animated rendition, rounded out by the exceptionally polished Knights. Playing solo, Scott, a violinist in the St. Lawrence String Quartet, gives a dashing account of the Violin Concerto No. 1, and Lara offers a spicy, individualistic reading of Concerto No. 3. Grade: A”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“truly an exhilarating experience“
The New York Sun
“The performances were gutsy and often unrestrained.”
The Irish Times
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.
After a whirlwind eleven-stop European tour with violinist Ray Chen, The Knights look forward to making music closer to home this summer, with familiar friends and new collaborators: in June with Natalie Merchant at Lincoln Center and Chris Thile at Tanglewood; with Pekka Kuusisto at Caramoor in July; and more to be announced soon. Artistic collaborators in the 2022-23 season include 2022 GRAMMY-winning countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, violinist Ray Chen, and genre-shattering pianist/composer Aaron Diehl, with whom The Knights will release an album of Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite in 2023. For the latest on our season and a complete list of artistic partners and collaborative projects, please visit theknightsnyc.com.
The Knights are proud to share a three-concert series presented by Carnegie Hall for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Programs include new works commissioned as part of the Rhapsody project, a multi-year initiative inspired by the 2024 centennial of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The Knights’ Carnegie Hall concerts in 2023-24 will feature Chris Thile, Wu Man, Magos Herrera, and Jeffrey Kahane, among other esteemed collaborators.
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.