Virginia Symphony taps Eric Jacobsen

Eric Jacobsen, the cellist and conductor best-known as co-founder and artistic director of The Knights, has been named music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

He succeeds JoAnn Falletta, who last summer concluded her 29-year-tenure with the Hampton Roads-based orchestra. She is now the VSO’s music director laureate.

Jacobsen and his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, founded The Knights in the late 1990s as a collective of New York-based musicians, initially playing chamber music. The ensemble evolved into an orchestra whose programs range from standard classical repertory to contemporary and culture-crossing music.

Jacobsen has been music director of the Orlando Philharmonic since 2015, and has been principal conductor of the Greater Bridgeport (CT) Symphony and artistic partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta of Seattle since 2014. He also has guest-conducted a number of US and European orchestras.

He is the cellist of Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet specializing in contemporary and avant-garde music, and has performed with the Silk Road Ensemble, an ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma to explore non-Western art-music.

The 38-year-old cellist-conductor is the son of Edmond Jacobsen, a violinist who formerly played in New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and flutist Ivy Jacobsen. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School. He is married to the folk singer Aoife O’Donovan.

“Eric’s innovative vision, musical curiosity, and boundless energy are in perfect alignment with this moment, and with the VSO’s commitment to serve the entire community in new and exciting ways,” Karen M. Philion, president and CEO of the orchestra, said in a statement announcing Jacobsen’s appointment.

When he conducted the VSO in March 2020, “it wasn’t just me loving this orchestra, it was going in both directions. There was a symbiotic thing going on,” Jacobsen told Amy Poulter of The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk:

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