Knight writer: Orchestra plays a multitude of Whitman poems

They contain multitudes: The Knights orchestral collective will accompany a reading of poetry by Walt Whitman.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’re playing a song of one self!

An orchestral collective will try to bring Brooklynites together with an intimate, 19th-century–style show of poetry and music. The Knights, playing at Fort Greene’s Bric House Ballroom on Dec. 10 and 11, will showcase the poetry of Walt Whitman, and the Bard of Brooklyn’s message of unity will hit especially hard given the divisive electoral campaign, said one of the group’s founding members.

“The voice of Walt Whitman calls out for attention to each other in a very big way,” said cellist Eric Jacobsen, who lives in Windsor Terrace. “The program was put together long ago but it feels incredibly relevant right now.”

The 70-minute program is fashioned after composer Franz Schubert’s salon performances from the 1820s, which he hosted in his living room. The show will not be quite as intimate — the ballroom at Bric fits 250 people — but its combination of elements and the emotions it provides will be similar, said Jacobsen’s brother and bandmate.

“You’re coming to a concert like this that has music and spoken word, new music and old music, and just the open-mindedness that we could all experience something beautiful together in the moment,” said Colin Jacobsen, who plays violin. “The more intimate environment of the salon concert gives us all the ability to be a little closer together.”

Pulitzer prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon will give some barbaric yawps at the shows, performing Whitman’s poetry while the Knights provide orchestral background music, riffing off each other to create a fitting mood. Muldoon will also debut his new poem, “Cathedral of Salt,” also set to music by the Knights.

The Saturday night performance will be followed by a family-oriented matinee the next afternoon. The content of the shows will not be hugely different from one another, said the brothers, but the vibes in the room may guide it in varied directions.

“It’s interactive in that we feed off each other, and I think all of the performers will feed off the audience’s energy,” said Colin Jacobsen.

The Knights at Bric House Ballroom [647 Fulton St. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene,, (718) 855–7882]. Dec. 10 at 8 pm. Dec. 11 at 2 pm. $10–$12.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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