Eric Jacobsen, artistic director and conductor
Colin Jacobsen, artistic director and violin
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 rooted in the classical tradition and a passion for artistic discovery. The Knights evolved out of late-night chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The Jacobsen brothers together serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor.
The orchestra has toured extensively across the United States and Europe since their founding in 2007. The Knights are celebrated globally, appearing across the world’s most prestigious stages, including at the Tanglewood Music Center, Ravinia Festival, Kennedy Center, Vienna Musikverein, and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. The orchestra has collaborated with many renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham.
Recent highlights include a whirlwind 11-stop European tour with violinist Ray Chen, and collaborations with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and genre-shattering pianist/composer Aaron Diehl, with whom The Knights released a Grammy-nominated album of Mary Lou Williams' Zodiac Suite in 2023.
The Knights were proud to share a three-concert series presented by Carnegie Hall in the 2023-24 season. Programs included 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 featured Chris Thile, Wu Man, Magos Herrera, and Jeffrey Kahane, among other esteemed collaborators.
Already well-established as one of classical music’s most exciting and innovative young conductors, Eric Jacobsen combines fresh interpretations of the traditional canon with cutting-edge collaborations across musical genres. As both a conductor and a cellist, Jacobsen has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative programming. He joined the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as music director in 2021, and was named the 12th music director in the orchestra’s 100+ year history. Jacobsen is in his ninth season as music director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, as he continues to pioneer the orchestra’s programming and community engagement in new and exciting directions. A frequent guest conductor, he has established continuing relationships with the Colorado Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival, and Dresden Musikfestspiele. Jacobsen brings joy, storytelling, and a touch of humor to what he describes as “musical conversations” that delight audiences around the world, including those who do not traditionally attend classical music concerts.
Since the early 2000's, violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen has forged an intriguing path in the cultural landscape, collaborating with an astonishingly wide range of artists across diverse traditions and disciplines while constantly looking for new ways to connect with audiences. For his work as a founding member of two innovative and influential ensembles – Brooklyn Rider and The Knights – Jacobsen was selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. He is also active as an Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning soloist. As a composer he has written pieces for an eclectic mix of artists including Emanuel Ax, Anne Sofie von Otter, Jamie Barton, Bela Fleck, Avi Avital, Kinan Azmeh, choreographers John Heginbotham and Brian Brooks, theater group Compagnia de' Colombari, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Jacobsen is the artistic director of Santa Fe Pro Musica, an organization with which he has had a fruitful long-term association as a guest soloist and leader.