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February 7, 2013

Valentine’s Day concert a sweetheart for classical fans

TERRE HAUTE — Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology will be the venue for a special Valentine’s Day concert by New York City-based chamber orchestra The Knights at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. It’ll be an evening of East meets West as the orchestra is joined by renowned pipa virtuoso, Wu Man on the Hatfield Hall stage.

One of the most exciting new groups to emerge in recent years, the 40-member chamber orchestra known as The Knights has taken the world of classical music by storm. Joining them will be Grammy-nominee Wu Man, whose adventurous musical spirit has led to her becoming a respected expert on the history and preservation of Chinese musical traditions.

Led by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, 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. With an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they expand the orchestral concert experience with programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and their passion for musical discovery.

“It’s quite common to hear about two brothers starting their own band,” said Hatfield Hall’s Bunny Nash, “but it’s even cooler that these guys got 22 of their closest musician buddies to form an orchestra. They’re really developing a following — even Yo-Yo Ma sits in with them on occasion to jam.”

The Knights grew from informal chamber music readings at the home of Eric and Colin Jacobsen, now the group’s conductor and rotating concertmaster, respectively. The collaborative spirit of chamber music continues within the ensemble, which provides a forum for individual ideas and radical inquiry.

Members of The Knights are graduates of the Juilliard, Curtis, Manhattan, Mannes, and Eastman music schools. As soloists, members have performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart orchestra.

Many members of The Knights bring talents that go beyond traditional orchestral skills; there are composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers who bring a range of cultural influences to the group.

The Knights recently recorded two albums for Sony Classical. The first project featured internationally-recognized cellist Jan Vogler in the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 from a live recording at New York’s cutting-edge concert venue, Le Poisson Rouge. Also on the album are arrangements of Shostakovich waltzes and the Jimi Hendrix song “Machine Gun.”

Their second album, “New Worlds,” features works by Copland, Dvorak, Ives, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Osvaldo Golijov.

Accompanying The Knights for part of the program will be internationally-renowned pipa (Chinese lute) talent, Wu Man. She has been cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World.”

Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where she became the first recipient of a master’s degree in pipa. She currently lives in Boston where she was chosen as a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University.

She is the first artist from China to have performed at the White House, playing alongside Yo-Yo Ma with whom she now collaborates as part of the Silk Road Project. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Her touring has taken her to the major music halls of the world including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Tickets for The Knights with Wu Man may be purchased in person, or by calling the Hatfield Hall ticket desk at 812-877-8544. Ticket desk hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and two hours before each event. Complete season information, including artist video clips, is available at hatfieldhall.com.

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