The groundbreaking orchestral collective The Knights has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help support the orchestra’s Home Season in Brooklyn. The Home Season allows the “hip, collaborative and innovative Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra” (Washington Post) to establish a consistent presence in a home venue, creating a programming base for this previously nomadic ensemble. The grant also helps The Knights continue their mission to transform the concert experience and engage new audiences by showcasing new commissions and artistic collaborations. The Knights will explore innovative variations on the traditional concert experience through multimedia elements, audience participation, and a fresh approach to everything from venues to seating to concert duration. With the Foundation’s support, The Knights will continue to explore musical connections throughout the community while engaging people from all ages and backgrounds in their dynamic music-making process. After exploring numerous potential venues, The Knights formed a partnership with the multi-disciplinary venue BRIC in downtown Brooklyn, where they embark upon their third year of residency in the coming season.
In the meantime, following a full spring highlighted by their Kennedy Center debut, their acclaimed European tour, and Warner Classics’ release of their new CD, Azul, with special guest and frequent collaborator Yo-Yo Ma, The Knights revisit some familiar haunts this summer. After a performance earlier this month with singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb in BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park, they perform at Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell, where they give the world premiere of a flute concerto by Judd Greenstein, written for Knights flutist Alex Sopp; then to Tanglewood, where they play the East Coast premiere of Vijay Iyer’s violin concerto with soloist Jennifer Koh; and finally 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 co-artistic director, violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen; and visual artist Maira Kalman. This fall, The Principles of Uncertainty will be presented again in four performances as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s New Wave Festival.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports scholarship and work in the humanities and the arts through grants to charitable institutions, including colleges and universities, performing arts organizations, museums, and libraries. Their grant making philosophy is to build, strengthen, and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects. As such, they develop long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invest sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.
The Knights evolved from late-night chamber music reading parties at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. The brothers serve as artistic directors of The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor, while the unique camaraderie within the trailblazing collective retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance.