This preview has been provided by Carolina Performing Arts.

Coming to UNC’s Memorial Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 11 is the dynamic string quartet Brooklyn Rider and the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra The Knights. Both groups are known for their gutsy and unrestrained performances and creating classical music for the 21st century.

The adventurous, genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider combines a wildly eclectic repertoire with a gripping performance style that attracts legions of fans and draws acclaim from critics of classical, world and rock music. NPR credits Brooklyn Rider with recreating the 300-year-old form of string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.”

Brooklyn Rider (whose name is derived from the German artistic collective Der Blau Reiter—The Blue Rider) features Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Colin Jacobsen, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; and Eric Jacobsen, cello. They perform in venues as varied as Joe’s Pub and Alice Tully Hall in New York City to the Todai-ji Temple in Japan, from the Library of Congress to the South By Southwest Festival. Through creative programming and global collaborations, Brooklyn Rider illuminates music for its audiences in ways that are “stunningly imaginative,” according to

This is the third time Brooklyn Rider has appeared at UNC’s Memorial Hall following their 2008 appearance with Yo-Yo Ma and their 2010 appearance with the trio 2 Foot Yard. For the Jan. 11 program, Brooklyn Rider will be performing Mozart’s “String Quartet No. 8 in F Major,” an original composition “Seven Steps,” Joao Gilberto’s “Undiú” and  traditional Roma music.

Born out of a desire to use the rich medium of the string quartet as a vehicle for communication across a large cross-section of history and geography, Brooklyn Rider is equally devoted to the interpretation of existing quartet literature and to the creation of new works. Much of Brooklyn Rider’s desire to extend the borders of conventional string quartet programming has come from their longstanding participation in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. As individual members of the ensemble, they have performed throughout the world, recorded three albums for Sony Classical, and taken part in educational initiatives, family concerts and media broadcasts.

Brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen are also the co-founders of The Knights, a chamber orchestra in which all the members of Brooklyn Rider participate. The 37-member orchestra will be performing Beethoven’s iconic “Symphony No. 5 in C minor” on Jan. 11.

The Knights is an orchestra of friends from a broad spectrum of the New York music world who cultivate collaborative music-making and creatively engage audiences in the shared joy of musical performance. Led by an open-minded spirit of solidarity and exploration, they expand the orchestral concert experience with programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and their passion for musical discovery. For their inspired programming and innovative formats, The Knights have been hailed as “the future of classical music in America” by the Los Angeles Times.

The formation of 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 serve as co-artistic directors for The Knights, with Eric Jacobsen as music director and conductor. The unique camaraderie within the orchestra continues to create an intimacy and immediacy of chamber music in performance. Each opportunity for these busy, versatile musicians to perform together as The Knights is a special occasion that they consider, quite literally, playtime.

The Knights boasts an unprecedented diversity of talents. There are composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters and improvisers who bring a range of cultural influences to the group from jazz and klezmer genres to pop and indie rock music. The musicians are graduates of such elite music schools as Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Manhattan and Mannes, and members have performed as soloists with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago and San Francisco symphony orchestras, as well as the Israel Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart orchestra. Equally successful as chamber and orchestral musicians, they participate in the world’s most prestigious music festivals, including Marlboro, Tanglewood, Verbier, Lucerne and Salzburg, and perform with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Toronto Symphony and New York Philharmonic.

The Knights have been touring through the U.S. and Germany and were recently a focus of documentary produced by WNET/Thirteen, entitled We Are The Knights; it premiered in September 2011. The Knight’s just released the album A Second in Silence featuring music by Erik Satie and Morton Feldman with Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. The ensemble records an all-Beethoven disc for Sony Classical, their third project with the label.

The orchestra’s extensive repertoire features traditional and contemporary masterworks of classical, popular, and world music in collaboration with such leading artists as soprano Dawn Upshaw and violinist Gil Shaham, flutist Paula Robison, singer-songwriter (and Knights violinist) Christina Courtin, Iranian ney (Persian bamboo flute) virtuoso Siamak Jahangiri, pianist Steven Beck, fiddler Mark O’Connor, and Syrian clarinetist/composer Kinan Azmeh.  

Tickets for the Jan. 11 performance are $39–$19 for general admission and $10 for UNC-Chapel Hill students. More information about The Knights and Brooklyn Rider can be found at To purchase tickets, please call Memorial Hall Box Office at 919.843.3333 or go to

About Carolina Performing Arts

Carolina Performing Arts’ mission is to enrich lives by creating and presenting exceptional arts experiences. The organization nurtures artistic innovation and the development of new works on and off campus; challenges and inspires audiences with powerful and transformative performances; and integrates the arts into the life of the University, embracing its mission of teaching, research and public service.