The Knights in Residence at Brooklyn’s BRIC House, Release New CD with Yo-Yo Ma in 2016-17

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The Knights in Residence at Brooklyn’s BRIC House, Release New CD with Yo-Yo Ma in 2016-17

Groundbreaking Brooklyn-based orchestra collective The Knights, dedicated to transforming the concert experience, continues to build connections in the community and revitalize orchestral music within Brooklyn’s vibrant cultural life in the 2016-17 season. Having established a special partnership with Brooklyn’s BRIC last season with the aim of growing orchestral music in the borough, The Knights return to the venue for another year-long residency, with eight concerts throughout the season featuring repertoire ranging from De Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show to Brooklyn composer showcases and world premieres. The season also includes an album release with longtime collaborator Yo-Yo Ma; an EP release with Gabriel Kahane of his song cycle Crane Palimpsest; a tour to France and Germany; a residency with the inaugural SHIFT Festival in Washington, DC; and the New York premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s song cycle Unremembered, which The Knights also perform at Tennessee’s Big Ears Music Festival.

With the 2016-17 residency at BRIC, a multi-disciplinary venue in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, the “hip, collaborative and innovative Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra” (Washington Post) continues to expand its connection with the Brooklyn community through music. During four week-long periods spaced throughout the season, the ensemble will present evening performances, family matinees, open rehearsals for students from the community, and engagement programs in and around the BRIC House. Community partners include local schools and the Noel Pointer Foundation, an organization in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood that gives instruction in stringed instruments to local children. The BRIC residency is supported in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Knights are also collaborating this year with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The program kicks off on October 21 with The Knights joining Joyce DiDonato for a program of Baroque and contemporary pieces, including original works created by the inmates.

The Knights’ October performance at BRIC features Spanish and Spanish-influenced composers, and is anchored by Manuel de Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show, based on an episode from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. In place of puppets, the concert will incorporate live painting and animation by Brooklyn-based Syrian-Armenian artist Kevork Mourad, in a collaborative concept that The Knights premiered at Tanglewood in 2015. Mourad, known for using his technique of spontaneous painting in combination with musical performance, is also a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, as are The Knights’ co-founders and co-artistic directors Colin and Eric Jacobsen, the latter of whom also serves as conductor. Subsequent BRIC performances this season include a Brooklyn-flavored Schubertiade, inspired by Schubert’s own intimate and artistically eclectic salons, and featuring the world premiere of a new poem by prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon with music by The Knights; a world premiere by Rome Prize-winner, composer, and steel pan performer Andy Akiho; and a concert of works by Brooklyn composers along with the masterworks that inspired them. Featured in this last concert will be a New York premiere by The Knights’ friend and frequent collaborator Gabriel Kahane, with whom they also release an EP, in October, of his song cycle Crane Palimpsest. Each evening concert at BRIC is accompanied by a family matinee, held on Sunday afternoons.

After a concert with Yo-Yo Ma at the Ravinia Festival in 2014, Classical Voice North America noted that “[The Knights’] enthusiasm and pleasure in performing repertoire from Mozart to more recent works was obvious from their beaming faces and eager glances across the ensemble… That joy in music makes The Knights an ideal collaborator for Yo-Yo Ma.” Their frequent performances with the celebrated cellist also included a concert at Caramoor last season, and the orchestra is joined by Ma on a new as-yet-untitled CD on Warner Classics, to be released on February 7. The disc comprises music by Sufjan Stevens, Dvořák, Colin Jacobsen, Stockhausen and Osvaldo Golijov.

Next spring, The Knights participate in the inaugural SHIFT Festival in Washington, DC, a showcase for North American orchestras of all sizes. Other ensembles at the festival include the Atlanta and North Carolina Symphonies and the Boulder Philharmonic. The Knights will perform with another friend and frequent collaborator, the composer and 2009 Rome Prize-winner Lisa Bielawa, who also conducts the San Francisco Girls Chorus and whose music has been said to evoke both “the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock” (Gramophone). Joined by the chorus, The Knights perform new works by Bielawa and Grawemeyer Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, both of whom they collaborated with for world premieres last season in a concert that was part of the citywide NY Phil Biennial.

The Knights also enjoy an increasingly high profile around the globe; as the New Yorker declared, they are “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products … known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory.” This season they export the best of Brooklyn on a tour to France and Germany. In France’s Aix-en-Provence they play a program ranging all the way from Bach to Gabriel Kahane, with celebrated guest artists including pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Bertrand Chamayou and violinist Renaud Capuçon. The concert will include the Persian folk-inflected composition Ascending Bird, written by violinist Colin Jacobsen in collaboration with Iranian composer Siamak Aghaei. Jacobsen – called by the Washington Post “one of the most interesting figures on the classical music scene” – performed the piece as soloist with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House in 2011, in a concert that was streamed live to millions of viewers worldwide. Closer to home, The Knights give two performances of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s hour-long, thirteen-part song cycle Unremembered, first in a New York premiere at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust and then at the Big Ears Music Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.

This wide-ranging new season follows a series of notable successes for The Knights. Besides performing in last season’s citywide NY Phil Biennial, this past summer the orchestra returned to Central Park’s popular Naumburg Orchestral Concerts for the ninth consecutive season, and returned to Tanglewood for a third year performing in Seiji Ozawa Hall. The ensemble also launched a chamber music series at SubCulture, New York’s new downtown venue for eclectic music; and partnered violinist Gil Shaham for Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto on his album Violin Concertos of the 1930s, Vol. 2 and a subsequent North American tour.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

The Knights: 2016-17 engagements

Oct 17-23

Brooklyn, NY
BRIC Residency

October 22, 8pm: Evening Concert

October 23, 2pm: Family Matinee

BRIC, Brooklyn, NY

Master Peter’s Puppet Show, and Jewels of the Spanish Baroque, featuring:

De Nebra (arr. Moreno): Seguidillas de Orestes y Dircea

Durante: Concerto No. 8 in A Major, “La Pazzia”

The Knights: Love Sonnet to Pablo Neruda

De Lucia (arr. C. Jacobsen): Zyryab

De Falla: Master Peter’s Puppet Show

Dec 5-11

Brooklyn, NY
BRIC Residency

December 10, 8pm: Evening Concert

December 11, 2pm: Family Matinee

BRIC, Brooklyn, NY

A Brooklyn Schubertiade, featuring:

A selection of songs by Schubert, accompanied by readings of Walt Whitman and other poets

Piazzolla: Oblivion

Ravel: Chansons Madecasses

Villa-Lobos: The Jet Whistle

Feb 6-12

Brooklyn, NY
BRIC Residency

February 11, 8pm: Evening Concert

February 12, 2pm: Family Matinee

BRIC, Brooklyn, NY

I ❤ Steel Pan, featuring:

Marini: Passacaglia

Solo steel pan music with Andy Akiho

Harrison: Varied Trio

Golijov: Mariel

Akiho: Septet for steel pan, percussion, piano and string quartet

Pastorius (arr. Conley/Jacobsen): selections from Holiday for Pans

March 14

New York, NY 

National Sawdust

Sarah Kirkland Snider: Unremembered (NY premiere)

March 23

Knoxville, TN 

Big Ears Music Festival
Sarah Kirkland Snider:

Mar 31-Apr 1

Washington, DC

The SHIFT Festival

Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

With the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Brahms: Psalm 13, Herr, wie lange,” Op. 27

Bielawa: New work

Kernis: New work

Vivaldi: Gloria in D, RV 589

The Knights: …the ground beneath our feet


April 9-13

Brooklyn, NY
BRIC Residency

April 9, 2pm: Family Matinee

April 13, 8pm: Evening Concert

BRIC, Brooklyn, NY

On the Shoulders of Giants, featuring:

Glass: String Quartet No. 2, “Company”

Schubert (arr. Ljova): Gretchen Am Spinnrade

Kahane: Freight and Salvage

Mozart: Symphony no. 29, K.201 (186a), A Major

Haydn: Symphony No. 80, D minor

Stravinsky: Concerto in E-flat “Dumbarton Oaks” (exclusive to Family Matinee)

Apr 16-21

Grand Theatre de Provence

Aix-en-Provence, France

Reich: Duet for Two Violins and Strings

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G, BWV 1048

Mendelssohn: Concerto for Violin and Piano in D minor (with Jean Yves Thibaudet, piano; Renaud Capuçon, violin)

Stravinsky: Concerto in E-flat, “Dumbarton Oaks”

Mozart: Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201 (186a)

Schubert (arr. Ljova): “Gretchen Am Spinnrade”   

Glass: String Quartet No. 2, “Company”    

Mozart: Piano Concerto TBD (with Bertrand Chamayou, piano)

Kahane: Freight and Salvage

Haydn: Symphony No. 80 in D minor    

Jacobsen/Aghaei: Ascending Bird     

April 24

Friederichshafen, Germany

with Wu Man, pipa

April 25

Heidelberg, Germany

with Wu Man, pipa


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© 21C Media Group, October 2016

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