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The Knights. Photo courtesy the Knights

PREVIEW: Happiness to abound Aug. 15 when Tanglewood welcomes the Knights and Gil Shaham

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By Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 Arts & Entertainment

Lenox — In a perfect world, you would use an electro-bio-mechanical neural transmitting zero-synapse repositioner (a Men-in-Black Neuralyzer) on yourself just before entering Ozawa Hall for the Knights concert with violinist Gil Shaham at Tanglewood on Thursday, Aug. 15. That’s because it helps to forget everything you thought you knew about classical music before hearing this band. Encouraging listeners to question their assumptions about classical music—while honoring the past—is all in a day’s work for Knights founders Eric and Colin Jacobsen. At stake is nothing less than the future of classical music in America, and the Los Angeles Times has gone so far as to credit Eric Jacobsen with helping to ensure it.

The way the Knights select, prepare and perform a piece of music is unlike any other ensemble you’re likely hear at Tanglewood (or anywhere else). For starters, the group’s members make something of a soirée out of sight reading new scores. They do it for the sheer pleasure of hearing new music while putting their technical chops to the test. These people really know how to party.

The whole idea behind the Knights aligns perfectly with the culture and mission of the Tanglewood Music Center. It’s about bringing the interpersonal dynamics of chamber music—watching, listening, responding—to larger-scale orchestral performances.

The Knights have worked with more celebrated artists than we could name here. Recent collaborators include violinist Itzhak Perlman; pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; and singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham and Nicholas Phan. The perennially ebullient violinist Gil Shaham is only the most recent.

On the evening of Thursday, Aug. 15, the Knights will perform

Eric and Colin Jacobsen are in the business of disseminating musical pleasure. They believe that having an enormous amount of fun is the best way of accomplishing serious musical work, so it’s only natural that the world’s happiest orchestra would team up with the world’s happiest violinist. It’s the perfect match, and immoderate joy is bound to ensue.

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