The Knights Perform at US Premiere of New Work by Donnacha Dennehy at Carnegie Hall on April 3
Concert Also Includes New York Premiere by Kinan Azmeh, Performed with the Composer, Plus Works Ranging From Vivaldi to Thomas Adès and Arrangements by Members of The Knights
(New York, NY, March 11, 2019) Grammy Award-nominated orchestral collective The Knights presents a wide-ranging program at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall on Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m., featuring music from the Baroque era through today, and from East to West. The concert features the US premiere of Canons and Overtones by Donnacha Dennehy, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its 125 Commissions Project. The piece was written to mark the 20th anniversary of Dublin’s Crash Ensemble and plays with layered melodies to create overtones, blurring the distinction between timbre and harmony.
Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh then joins The Knights for the New York premiere of his work, Concertino Grosso, also co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and for a selection from his Suite for Improvisor and Orchestra. Both works highlight Kinan’s versatility and virtuosity as a performer, while making connections between the musical cultures of East and West.
Additional contemporary works to be performed by the Brooklyn-based ensemble include Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte and Thomas Adès’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 2, alongside Vivaldi’s Sinfonia in B Minor, RV 169, "Al Santo Sepolcro". Adding to the concert’s varied offererings are daring new takes on music by György Ligeti and Bob Haggart by two members of The Knights, Michael P. Atkinson and Shawn Conley.
About the Artists
Hailed as a “virtuoso” and "intensely soulful" by The New York Times, “spellbinding" and “brilliant” by The New Yorker, Kinan Azmeh’s utterly distinctive sound across different musical genres has gained him international recognition as a clarinetist and composer.
Kinan has been touring the world as soloist, composer, and improviser. Notable appearances include: Carnegie Hall and the United Nations General Assembly, New York; Royal Albert Hall, London; Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires; The Philharmonie, Berlin; the Library of Congress and The Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg; the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg; Opéra Bastille, Paris; Moscow State Conservatory (Grand Hall), Moscow; and the Damascus Opera House for its opening concert in his native Syria.
He has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra among others; and has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Marcel Khalife, Aynur Doğan, Daniel Barenboim, John McLaughlin, and Djivan Gasparian.
He has composed for solo, orchestra, chamber music, film, live illustration, and electronics. Recent commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as well as recording original music for Bob Wilson’s recent production of Oedipus Rex. He leads his Arabic/Jazz quartet the Kinan Azmeh CityBand and his Hewar Ensemble and serves as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Players, a pan-Arab ensemble dedicated to contemporary music form the Arab world. He is also a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble with whom he was awarded a Grammy Award in 2017.
Kinan is a graduate of The Juilliard School as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus Higher Institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Shawki, Nicolay Ivanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering. Kinan earned his doctorate degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013.
The Knights are a Grammy Award-nominated collection of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Drawing on their classical roots and passion for artistic discovery, The Knights bring a spirit of curiosity and camaraderie to create adventurous programs and innovative collaborations that take them into parks, plazas, and bars as well as the world’s greatest concert halls. Having performed and recorded with such renowned soloists as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and appeared in venues including Vienna’s Musikverein and New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Knights are proud to be “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products, … known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker).
Recent highlights include a performance presented as part of the opening season of the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, where their performance was hailed as one of the venue’s best (Hamburg Abendetter). The Knights also appeared as the first American orchestra-in-residence at the Festival du Paques in Aix-en-Provence, performing multiple concerts throughout the city, including programs with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and violinist Renaud Capucon. In addition, The Knights recently presented a fully-staged version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide as part of his 100th birthday celebration at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, and premiered The Head and the Load, with international artist William Kentridge at London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Park Avenue Armory.
The Knights’ commitment to new music is unsurpassed. The past few seasons have seen them give world premiere performances of works by Kinan Azmeh and Judd Greenstein, the East Coast premiere of Vijay Iyer’s violin concerto Trouble, and the New York premiere of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s song cycle Unremembered, besides previewing excerpts from Chimera, a drag opera by Angélica Negrón. At the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL, they joined the San Francisco Girls Chorus and Brooklyn Youth Chorus for a program of world premieres by Rome Prize-winner Lisa Bielawa, Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis, and Knights co-founder Colin Jacobsen.
The Knights have made two recordings for Warner Classics: the ground beneath our feet, which showcases their first original group composition, and Azul, a celestial-themed collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma. Their discography also features Gabriel Kahane’s song cycle Crane Palimpsest, with the composer on vocals, and Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto, recorded with Gil Shaham for his Grammy Award-nominated album 1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 2.
The Knights evolved out of friendly late-night chamber music sessions at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen. Since the orchestra’s incorporation in 2007, the brothers have served as its artistic directors, with Eric Jacobsen as conductor. The Knights’ roster boasts remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters, and improvisers, who bring a range of cultural influences to the group, from jazz and klezmer to pop and indie rock music. The unique camaraderie within the group retains the intimacy and spontaneity of chamber music in performance.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen, Artistic Directors
Kinan Azmeh, Clarinet
CAROLINE SHAW Entr'acte
DONNACHA DENNEHY Canons and Overtones (US Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
KINAN AZMEH Concertino Grosso (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
ANTONIO VIVALDI Sinfonia in B Minor, RV 169, "Al Santo Sepolcro"
THOMAS ADÈS Chamber Symphony, Op. 2
Plus arrangements, transcriptions, and original music from Middle Eastern, Balkan, and klezmer sources
Support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by members of Carnegie Hall’s Composer Club.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Photo at top by Shervin Lainez.
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For more information on discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts. Artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.
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