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The Knights Return to Central Park, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Jacob’s Pillow, and Celebrate Brooklyn This Summer

On the heels of the release of their new CD Azul this past spring on Warner Classics, with special guest and frequent collaborator Yo-Yo Ma, as well as a Kennedy Center debut and just-completed European tour, groundbreaking orchestral collective The Knights revisits some familiar haunts this summer. After kicking the summer off in their home borough with a concert in BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, they return to Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, where they give the world premiere of a flute concerto by Judd Greenstein, written for Knights flutist Alex Sopp; to the Tanglewood Festival, where they play the east coast premiere of Vijay Iyer’s violin concerto with soloist Jennifer Koh; and to Illinois’s Ravinia Festival for a performance with Susan Graham. Members of the orchestra will also play live at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts in the world premiere of The Principles of Uncertainty, a collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham, Knights violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen, and visual artist Maira Kalman. Last but not least, a few Knights will be on hand to toast the summer with a performance in WQXR’s Classical Beer Jam at Manhattan’s Greene Space on June 9, with local craft breweries providing an array of fine craft beers for the audience’s sampling pleasure. The evening will be hosted by Matt Abramovitz and webcast live on Facebook and on

The orchestra has just completed its second season in residency at Brooklyn’s multi-disciplinary arts venue BRIC House, and the residency will continue next season. Launching their summer this year, The Knights play the annual children’s concert at BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park, along with singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb.

When the orchestra makes its yearly pilgrimage to Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell on July 11, the program includes the world premiere of a new piece for flute and orchestra by Judd Greenstein, co-commissioned by The Knights and Naumburg. Greenstein has been commissioned by the NOW Ensemble, of which he is a founding member; yMusic; Roomful of Teeth; and many other “post-genre” new music ensembles. He is co-director of New Amsterdam Records/New Amsterdam Presents, an artists’ service organization that develops performances and recordings to support this new music community. His new work is being composed for Knights member Alex Sopp, who also plays with both yMusic and the NOW Ensemble. Following the Central Park concert, on July 13, The Knights and Musical America’s 2016 Artist of the Year, Jennifer Koh, give the east coast premiere of 2013 MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer’s new violin concerto, Trouble, at Tanglewood. Iyer has released twenty albums as a jazz pianist, and as a composer has been commissioned by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, Brooklyn Rider, Brentano String Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and many more. The violin concerto was co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and premieres at Ojai in June, also with Koh as soloist.

The Knights’ European tour this spring included high-profile collaborations with pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Bertrand Chamayou and violinist Renaud Capuçon in Aix-en-Provence, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man for three concerts in Germany, culminating at the spectacular new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. What Yo-Yo Ma characterizes as the orchestra’s “vibrant, energetic, collaborative culture” is again on display at Illinois’s Ravinia Festival this summer, where they reunite with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who performed in their annual gala last year, for excerpts from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne (Aug 17). World-renowned as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music, after Graham performed excerpts from the same piece last winter with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bachtrack declared: “Ms. Graham turned each of these chansons into its own special gem.” For each of the three performances in Central Park, Tanglewood, and Ravinia, the versatile orchestra also plays a wide-ranging program of Purcell, John Adams, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.

The final event of the summer for The Knights is at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts, where members of the orchestra will perform in the world premiere of The Principles of Uncertainty, a new work choreographed by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner John Heginbotham, with music arranged and composed by Knights co-founder and co-artistic director Colin Jacobsen, who serves as the project’s music director. Also incorporated in the work is written and visual art by acclaimed illustrator and frequent New Yorker contributor Maira Kalman. The evening-length dance theatre piece was co-commissioned by the Pillow and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and developed during multiple Pillow Creative Development Residencies. This fall, Principles of Uncertainty come to Brooklyn for four performances as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s New Wave Festival. Many of Jacobsen’s compositions have been performed by The Knights; the track Ascending Bird on the new Azul CD was written by him in collaboration with Iranian composer Siamak Aghaei.

The summer season begins when several members of The Knights will participate in the Prairie Home Companion Cruise to destinations in Scotland and Norway. Both Jacobsens, along with other members of the ensemble in various configurations, have participated in numerous past broadcasts of the show, and Eric Jacobsen was on a broadcast early last month.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

The Knights: summer 2017 engagements

June 9
New York, NY
The Greene Space
WQXR’s Classical Beer Jam
Members of the Knights along with John Holiday, countertenor & Di Wu, piano

June 10-24
Scotland & Norway
Members of The Knights on A Prairie Home Companion Cruise

June 17
Brooklyn, NY
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival w/ Lisa Loeb

July 11
New York, NY
PURCELL: Fantasia Upon One Note
ADAMS: Common Tones in Simple Time
GREENSTEIN: New Work for Flute and Orchestra (world premiere co-commissioned by Naumburg & The Knights; with Alex Sopp, flute)
MOZART: Symphony No. 40 in G minorK. 550

July 13
Lenox, MA
Tanglewood Music Festival
PURCELL: Fantasia Upon One Note
ADAMS: Common Tones in Simple Time
IYER: Trouble, for violin and chamber orchestra (BSO co-commission; with Jennifer Koh, violin)
MOZART: Symphony No. 40 in G minorK. 550

Aug 17
Ravinia, IL
Ravinia Festival
PURCELL: Fantasia Upon One Note
ADAMS: Common Tones in Simple Time
CANTELOUBE: Selections from Chants d’Auvergne (with Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano)
ADAMS: Chamber Symphony
MOZART: Symphony No. 40 in G minorK. 550

Aug 23-27
Lee, MA
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
Members of The Knights with Dance Heginbotham
HEGINBOTHAM/JACOBSEN: The Principles of Uncertainty

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© 21C Media Group, June 2017


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