Classical Ensemble The Knights to Perform with Pipa Player Wu Man, 2/20

Classical Ensemble The Knights to Perform with Pipa Player Wu Man, 2/20

Renowned Pipa virtuoso Wu Man returns to Houston - this time for the debut of classical music ensemble The Knights - Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in Wortham Center's Cullen Theater, presented by Society for the Performing Arts.

Founded by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen (also members of the genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider), The Knights are 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. The talented group is made up of composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters and improvisers who bring a range of cultural influences. Led by 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.

The Knights have joined forces with Wu Man for a program that includes Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in E-flat; Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra; Claude Debussy's Prelude a l'après-midi d'un faune; Darius Milhaud's Le boeuf sur le toit, Op. 58; and Wu Man's Blue and Green.

For their inspired programming, innovative formats and "crusading musical mission," The Knights have been hailed as "the future of classical music in America" (Los Angeles Times). The Jacobsen brothers were featured on a PBS documentary in fall 2011 titled "We Are The Knights," which told the story of how their orchestra was born. That same year, The Knights partnered with New York's classical music radio station, WQXR, for the launch of the station's new Ensemble-in-Residence program. The musicians appeared across all platforms: on air, online and on stage before live audiences.

The Knights perform in a wide range of concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Lyceum, Central Park, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Tonic, the Whitney Museum, and Mass MoCA. Also in demand on the international stage, they have appeared at the Dresden Musikfestspiele, Cologne Philharmonie, Dusseldorf Tonhalle, and the National Gallery in Dublin, and have toured Germany with cellist Jan Vogler. Their expanding presence on the music festival scene has included performances at the Ravinia Festival, the Stillwater Music Festival in Minnesota, and Caramoor's Fall Festival. The orchestra's extensive repertoire features traditional and contemporary masterworks of classical, popular, and world music in collaboration with such artists as soprano Dawn Upshaw and violinist Gil Shaham.

Recognized as the world's premier pipa virtuoso and as a leading ambassador of Chinese music, Wu Man creates and fosters projects that give this ancient instrument a new role in today's music world, not only introducing the instrument to new audiences, but commissioning and premiering over a hundred new works. A Grammy-nominated artist, she has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma in the recording of Silk Road and worked with renowned musicians including Tan Dun and the Kronos Quartet.

Tickets range from $25-$40 and can be purchased online at www.spahouston.org, by phone at 713-227-4772 or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana St. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday. For groups of 15 or more call 713-632-8113.

Founded in 1966, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) is the largest independent non-profit presenting organization in the Southwest. Since its inception, SPA has sponsored more than 1,000 performances of the world's finest music, dance and theater events, in adherence to the belief that the arts are fundamental to the overall enrichment and quality of life within the community. In addition to presenting artists, SPA seeks to provide a variety of learning experiences for adults and children through master classes, lectures and special student performances, as well as build relationships between the performing arts and other interests within the greater Houston area and throughout the state of Texas.

Photo Credit: Stephen Kahn