Hailed by the New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative programming. Jacobsen is Co-Artistic Director, conductor, and cellist of The Knights, the adventurous orchestra founded with his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, to foster the intimacy and camaraderie of chamber music on the orchestral stage. As conductor, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at such venues as Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, the summer music festivals at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Ojai and international venues such as the National Gallery of Dublin, Dresden Musikfestspiele, Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, and the Vienna Musikverein. In their spring 2017 European tour, Jacobsen conducted The Knights in the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and completed a week-long residency with them at the Easter Festival (Festival de Pâques) in Aix-en-Provence. Recent collaborators include violinist Itzhak Perlman, singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, and Nicholas Phan, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Under Jacobsen’s baton, The Knights have developed an extensive recording collection, which includes the ground beneath our feet, the ensemble’s first release for Warner Classics. The Knights previously issued albums for Sony Classical include Jan Vogler and The Knights Experience: Live from New York; New Worlds, an album that partnered Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Fifth Symphony, and the “smartly programmed” (National Public Radio) A Second in Silence on the Ancalagon label. Recently, Jacobsen saw the releases of The Knights’ critically acclaimed albums Azul, with longtime collaborator Yo-Yo Ma, as well as the Prokofiev Concerto in the Grammy-nominated Gil Shaham album 1930s Violin Concertos Vol. 2. We Are The Knights, a documentary film produced by Thirteen/WNET, premiered in September 2011.
Jacobsen serves as the Music Director for the Orlando Philharmonic, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and as Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta. At the close of a successful second season with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacobsen has begun to pioneer the orchestra’s programming and community engagement in new and exciting directions. A particularly well received Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte led to the programming of two opera productions in the 2016-2017 season with directors Alison Moritz and Mary Birnbaum. The “charming and funny” (Orlando Sentinel) production of Bernstein’s Candide at the Orlando Philharmonic will be remounted and tour with The Knights in the 2018-2019 season.
Jacobsen is also in demand as a guest conductor, and led Camerata Bern in the first European performance of Mark O’Connor’s American Seasons, with the composer as soloist. He has conducted the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Detroit, Alabama, the New World Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio, and the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck.
A dedicated chamber musician, Jacobsen performs with Silkroad, founded by Yo-Yo Ma, participating in residencies and performances at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hollywood Bowl, and across the U.S., as well as in Azerbaijan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Switzerland. In addition, as a founding member of the genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider — dubbed “one of the wonders of contemporary music” (Los Angeles Times) — he has taken part in a wealth of world premieres and toured extensively in North America and Europe, and is credited with helping to ensure “the future of classical music in America” (Los Angeles Times).
In December 2012, Jacobsen and his brother Colin were selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. Eric splits his time between New York and Orlando. He is married to singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and recently become a parent.