To our wonderful audiences for coming out and supporting us year after year, to our performing artists for their boundless energy and talent, and to our donors and foundations, without whom we couldn’t present such high-quality concerts at no cost to our audiences.

Rite of Summer Music Festival Summer 2021

rite of summer music festival 10th anniversary summer 2021

Artistic Directors Pam Goldberg & Blair McMillen present the 10th Anniversary Season of Rite of Summer Music Festival Summer 2021 on Governors Island, NYC featuring The Knights & Alarm Will Sound!

New York, NY May 6, 2021

Pam Goldberg and Blair McMillen are thrilled to present the 10th Anniversary Season of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, taking place Summer 2021 on Governors Island, New York City. Rite of Summer will present free outdoor concerts in June and September. In a locale The New York Times has called a “Playground for the Arts,” the aim of the Festival is simple: to present the highest quality live performances, and to bring free contemporary classical music to as many people as possible in a relaxed, fun, outdoor setting. The safety, health, and happiness of ROS audiences, artists, and crew are of primary concern to Artistic Directors Pam Goldberg and Blair McMillen. Social distancing will be required for everyone in attendance as well as the wearing of masks covering both noses and mouths.

This season’s spectacular line-up kicks off on Saturday, June 19th with The Knights performing works by Vivaldi, Villa-Lobos, Rodrigo, arr. Kibbey and The Knights, Ravel, Boulanger, Montgomery, and more. On Saturday, September 18th, Alarm Will Sound will perform the NYC premiere of John Luther AdamsTen Thousand Birds, based on the songs of birds that are native to, or migrate through the American northeast and midwest. It explores the connections between nature and music, a topic that John Luther Adams has pursued over the course of his remarkable career. Rite of Summer Music Festival is very grateful to the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund for underwriting this concert.

“After the isolating year we’ve all experienced, I feel celebratory about our 10th Anniversary Season. We are all in need of live music and presenting artists like The Knights and Alarm Will Sound with Ten Thousand Birds will be both thrilling and life-affirming,” says Artistic Director Pam Goldberg.

“Summertime traditionally brings rejuvenation and reconnection. We want this summer, in particular, to feel like a reconnection with all of you. Come join us for our 10th Anniversary season, set outdoors amongst the spacious lawns and trees of Nolan Park. We are ecstatic that two of the most exciting and boundary-pushing ensembles in the country – The Knights and Alarm Will Sound – will be performing at ROS this summer. Both of these very special shows, each in their own marvelously unique way, will enable us to reconnect: to sound, to nature, to the outdoors, and to each other. Thank you for your continued support amidst a very surreal past year. We are so happy to be back, and we can’t wait to see you in June and September. Be well, stay healthy, and we’ll see you out on the Island,” says Artistic Director Blair McMillen.

Rite of Summer shows will be presented twice the same day, at 1pm and 3pm, for each respective date in Nolan Park. Audiences should feel free to walk by, stop and listen, lay down a picnic blanket and relax, eat lunch, mingle, and take in these engaging live performances.

Past seasons have presented such artists as: Pamela Z; JACK Quartet; Dawn of Midi; Imani Winds; Bang on a Can All-Stars; ETHEL; Ensemble Connect; Pam Goldberg; Miranda Cuckson; Blair McMillen; Nurit Pacht; Esther Noh; Caitlin Sullivan; Allison Charney; John Brancy; Peter Dugan; Kara Sainz; Theo Bleckmann; The Parker Quartet; New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers with ETHEL and Iktus Percussion; Jeffrey Zeigler; Ian David Rosenbaum; Todd Reynolds; Jonny Rogers; Jordan Tice; Mathias Kunzli; TIGUE; Grand Band; Talujon Percussion; Phyllis Chen; Anthony DeMare; Fireworks Ensemble; Classical Jam; House of Waters; Sirius Quartet; Sandbox Percussion; Contemporaneous; Don Byron New Gospel Quintet; Iktus Percussion; Brooklyn Raga Massive; DITHER; Collaborative Arts Ensemble; Ljova and the Kontraband; a Jed Distler-led extravaganza of Terry Riley’s In C featuring over 40 of New York’s top freelance musicians including members of American Modern Ensemble, Newspeak, Momenta Quartet, and more; John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit with over 60 percussionists from Mantra Percussion, Ensemble et al, Loop 2.4.3, Palladium Percussion, Iktus Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, Contemporaneous, and students from Stony Brook, Queens College, NYU, and Mantra Youth Percussion.

Governors Island ferries run daily from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, located at 10 South Street (Subway: 1 to South Ferry; R/W to Whitehall Street; 4/5 to Bowling Green; Bus: M15, M20, M55) and on weekends from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park (Subway: 2/3/4/5 to Borough Hall; R to Court Street; Bus: B63) and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook (Subway: F/G to Smith-9th Streets; Bus: B61; enter near the corner of Pioneer and Conover Streets). Concerts are free; ferry ticket reservations are required. Ferries are always free for kids 12 and under, seniors 65 and up, residents of NYCHA housing, current and former military servicemembers, Governors Island members, and for everyone on weekends before noon. Round-trip ferry tickets for adults are $3 at all other times. For a full ferry schedule and to reserve tickets, please visit

For more information, visit Digital Photos are available upon request.

Season Overview:

The Knights June 19, 2021 1pm & 3pm
Alarm Will Sound September 18, 2021 1pm & 3pm

Saturday, June 19 – The Knights (Rain date: June 20)

The Knights

the knights logoTHE KNIGHTS are a collective of adventurous musicians dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded
spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery. The orchestra has toured and recorded with renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Béla Fleck, and Gil Shaham, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and the Vienna Musikverein. The Knights evolved from latenight chamber music reading parties with friends at the home of violinist Colin Jacobsen and cellist Eric Jacobsen, who serve as the group’s artistic directors.

The Knights are proud to be known as “one of Brooklyn’s sterling cultural products…known far beyond the borough for their relaxed virtuosity and expansive repertory” (The New Yorker). Their roster boasts musicians of remarkably diverse talents, including composers, arrangers, singersongwriters, 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. Through the palatable joy and friendship
in their music-making, each musician strives to include new and familiar audiences to experience this important art form.

portrait of the knights taken by shervin lainez
Photo credit: Shervin Lainez

Counted among the highlights from recent seasons are: a fully-staged version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide in honor of his 100th birthday at both the Tanglewood Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival; the premiere of The Head and the Load with international artist William Kentridge at London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Park Avenue Armory; the recording of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto on master violinist Gil Shaham’s Grammy-nominated 2016 release, 1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 2; and a performance in the NY PHIL BIENNIAL along with the San Francisco Girls Chorus (led by composer Lisa Bielawa) and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, which featured world premieres by Rome Prize-winner Bielawa, Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis, and Knights violinist and co-founder Colin Jacobsen. The ensemble made its Carnegie Hall debut in the New York premiere of the Steven Stucky/Jeremy Denk opera The Classical Style, and has toured the U.S. with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck and Europe with soprano Dawn Upshaw. Other recordings include the critically acclaimed Azul, released in 2016; 2015’s “instinctive and appealing” (The Times, UK) the ground beneath our feet on Warner Classics; an all-Beethoven disc on Sony Classical; and 2012’s “smartly programmed” (NPR) A Second of Silence for Ancalagon.

Colin Jacobsen, Violinist, Composer & Artistic Director of The Knights

colin jacobsen with a violin
Photo credit: Erin Baiano

Violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen is “one of the most interesting figures on the classical music scene” (The Washington Post). An eclectic composer who draws on a range of influences, he was named one of the top 100 composers under 40 by NPR listeners. He is also active as an Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning soloist and has toured with the Silk Road Ensemble since its inception in 2000. For his work as a founding member of two game-changing, audience-expanding ensembles – the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and orchestra The Knights – Jacobsen was selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious and substantial United States Artists Fellowship. As a featured soloist and composer with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, he performed at the Sydney Opera House in a memorable concert streamed by millions of viewers worldwide. His compositions and arrangements for dance and theater include The Principles of Uncertainty, a collaboration between writer/illustrator Maira Kalman and Dance Heginbotham; and More Or Less I Am, a theatrical production of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself by Compagnia de’ Colombari.


Bridget Kibbey, Harpist

bridget kibbey portrait with harp
Photo Credit: Ronald Smith

Called the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp,” by Vogue Senior Editor Corey Seymour, Bridget Kibbey is in demand for her innovative, virtuosic performances that expand the expressive range of the harp. Collaborating with some of today’s top artists, she crosses genres to emphasize the harp’s role through centuries and cultures of music. The New York Times has remarked that “…she made it seem as though her instrument had been waiting all its life to explode with the gorgeous colors and energetic figures she was getting from it.” Kibbey has received a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and a Salon de Virtuosi SONY Recording Grant. She is the winner of the Premiere Prix at the Journées de les Harpes Competition in Arles, France, the Concert Artists Guild competition, and the Juilliard School’s Peter Mennin Prize for Artistic Excellence and Leadership. She is a graduate of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and is featured annually with the CMSLC. With the harp as her muse, Bridget Kibbey is sought after for her keen curatorial ideas through music. She currently tours several projects of her own conception ranging from French Masterworks of the Belle Époque, to the riches of baroque counterpoint, to popular and familiar folk music from South America to Sephardia which resulted from some of history’s greatest cross-cultural pollination stories. She has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician in festivals across the globe, including Schloss Elmau, Pelotas Festival, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, International Festival d’Avesnois, Aspen Music Festival, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, Big Ears Knoxville, Chamber Music Northwest, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts, Savannah Music Festival, and [email protected], among others.

Colin Jacobsen, violin and Knights Artistic Director
Alex Fortes, violin
Celia Hatton, viola
Alex Sopp, flute and vocals
Nuno Antunes, clarinet
Bridget Kibbey, harp
Additional Musicians from The Knights TBA


Antonio Vivaldi: Il Gardellino (10′) – flute, strings
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Song of the Black Swan (3′) – harp, cello
Joaquin Rodrigo, arr. Bridget Kibbey and The Knights: De los álamos vengo, madre (3′) – flute, clarinet, harp, strings
Maurice Ravel: Introduction and Allegro (10′) – flute, clarinet, strings
Paco De Lucía arr. C. Jacobsen: Zyryab (7′) – flute, clarinet, harp, strings
Lili Boulanger: Nocturne (3′) – flute, harp
João Gilberto arr. C. Jacobsen: Undiu (4′) – flute/voice, clarinet, harp, strings
Jessie Montgomery: Source Code (8′) – strings
Tommy Potts arr. C. Jacobsen: The Butterfly (6′) – flute, harp, strings
American Traditional arr. Jacobsen: Little Birdie (3′) – flute/voice, clarinet, harp, strings


Saturday, September 18 – Alarm Will Sound (Rain date: September 19)



alarm will sound red logo



Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music. They have established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic skill. Their performances have been described as “equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity” by the Financial Times of London and as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times says that Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene.”

alarm will sound performing on stage
Photo Credit: Wojciech Wandzel

With classical skill and unlimited curiosity, Alarm Will Sound takes on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop influenced. Alarm Will Sound has been associated since its inception with composers at the forefront of contemporary music, premiering pieces by John Adams, Steve Reich, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Aaron Jay Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, Derek Bermel, Benedict Mason, and Wolfgang Rihm, among others. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work.

Alarm Will Sound is the resident ensemble at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. Held each July at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the festival features eight world premieres by early career composers. During the weeklong festival, these composers work closely with Alarm Will Sound and two established guest composers to perform and record their new work.

Alarm Will Sound may be heard on fourteen recordings, including their most recent, The Hunger; Omnisphere, with jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood; a collaboration with Peabody Award-winning podcast Meet the Composer titled Splitting Adams; and the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite. Their genre-bending, critically acclaimed Acoustica features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin. This unique project taps the diverse talents within the group, from the many composers who made arrangements of the original tracks, to the experimental approaches developed by the performers.

In 2016, Alarm Will Sound in a co-production with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, presented the world premiere of the staged version of Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger at the BAM Next Wave Festival and the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Featuring Iarla O’Lionárd (traditional Irish singer) and Katherine Manley (soprano) with direction by Tom Creed, The Hunger is punctuated by video commentary and profound early recordings of traditional Irish folk ballads mined from various archives including those of Alan Lomax.

In 2013-14, Alarm Will Sound served as artists-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. During that season, the ensemble presented four large ensemble performances at the Met, including two site-specific productions staged in museum galleries (Twinned, a collaboration with Dance Heginbotham and I Was Here I Was I, a new theatrical work by Kate Soper and Nigel Maister), as well as several smaller events in collaboration with the Museum’s educational programs.

In 2011, at Carnegie Hall, the group presented 1969, a multimedia event that uses music, images, text, and staging to tell the compelling story of great musicians—John Lennon, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Paul McCartney, Luciano Berio, Yoko Ono, and Leonard Bernstein—striving for a new music and a new world amidst the turmoil of the late 1960s. 1969’s unconventional approach combining music, history, and ideas has been critically praised by the New York Times (“…a swirling, heady meditation on the intersection of experimental and commercial spheres, and of social and aesthetic agendas.”)

Alarm Will Sound has been presented by Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, (le) Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kitchen, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Disney Hall, Kimmel Center, Library of Congress, the Walker Arts Center, Cal Performances, Stanford Lively Arts, Duke Performances, and the Warhol Museum. International tours include the Holland Festival, Sacrum Profanum, Moscow’s Art November, St. Petersburg’s Pro Arte Festival, and the Barbican.

The members of the ensemble have also demonstrated our commitment to the education of young performers and composers through residency performances and activities at the Community Music
School of Webster University, Cleveland State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Missouri, Eastman School of Music, Dickinson College, Duke University, the Manhattan School of Music, Harvard University, New York University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information and to join the mailing list, visit Alarm Will Sound’s website.

Member List:

Alan Pierson, Conductor and Artistic Director
Erin Lesser, flute
Christa Robinson, oboe
Bill Kalinkos, clarinet
Elisabeth Stimpert, clarinet
Michael Harley, bassoon
Laura Weiner, horn
Tim Leopold, trumpet
Michael Clayville, trombone
Matt Smallcomb, percussion
Chris Thompson, percussion
John Orfe, piano
Courtney Orlando, violin
Stefan Freund, cello
Miles Brown, bass
Daniel Neumann, audio engineering
Plus Additional Musicians TBA for Ten Thousand Birds

Executive Director, Gavin Chuck
General Manager, Annie Toth
Production Manager, Jason Varvaro
Assistant Director of Artistic Planning, Peter Ferry
Librarian, Chihiro Shibayama

Alan Pierson, Conductor and Artistic Director

Alan Pierson has been praised as “a dynamic conductor and musical visionary” by the New York Times, “a young conductor of monstrous skill” by Newsday, “gifted and electrifying” by the

alan pierson
Photo Credit: Alan Pierson

Boston Globe, and “one of the most exciting figures in new music today” by Fanfare. In addition to his work as artistic director of Alarm Will Sound, he is Principal Conductor of the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, has served as Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and has guest conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the London Sinfonietta, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Steve Reich Ensemble, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and the Silk Road Project, among other ensembles. He is co-director of the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Pierson has collaborated with major composers and performers, including Yo Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, La Monte Young, and choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan and Elliot Feld. Mr. Pierson received bachelor degrees in physics and music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in conducting from the Eastman School of Music. He has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, Sony Classical, and Sweetspot DVD.


John Luther Adams Ten Thousand Birds NYC Premiere

About Ten Thousand Birds

Ten Thousand Birds is based on the songs of birds that are native to, or migrate through the American northeast and midwest. It explores the connections between nature and music, a topic that John Luther Adams has pursued over the course of his remarkable career. Most recently in Sila: Breath of the World and Become Ocean (for which he won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and Grammy) he has portrayed—in big musical gestures—the awe one experiences in response to nature’s grandeur. In Ten Thousand Birds, on the other hand, the source of inspiration is particular birdsongs, captured in minute detail. Adams writes: “In this music, time is not measured. Each page in the score will be its own self-contained world that occupies its own physical space and its own time.”

Ideally suited for pandemic circumstances, Ten Thousand Birds has an open, modular structure: each page of music can be combined in varied ways. Our 70-minute interpretation, designed by Alan Pierson, follows the cycle of a day, starting with bird songs heard in the morning, then afternoon, evening, night, and return to morning. It also uses space by moving the performers around the venue as they play, and encouraging the audience to walk around to experience the music from many perspectives.

Meaning of work for pandemic:

  • Outdoors in space
  • Connecting people with nature.
  • Finding peace in the world. Bringing us into wide-open communal spaces.

Alarm Will Sound performs the work in an open-space setting (whether indoors or outdoors) where performers and audience move freely around the space and each other. In that way, the piece is analogous to a walk in which you discover birds and other natural sounds. The connection between nature and music is enhanced by this unconventional, open setting because the experience would be transformative in subtle yet profound ways: as the bird-song sources become music, the open setting becomes an artistic space, blurring the lines between human creativity and natural phenomena.

alarm will sound performing ten thousand birds at cuyahoga valley national park
Alarm Will Sound performs Ten Thousand Birds at Cuyahoga Valley National Park –
Pictured: Matt Smallcomb – Photo: Alan Pierson

Alarm Will Sound premiered Ten Thousand Birds to inaugurate the Public Media Commons in St. Louis, where it was recognized by St. Louis Magazine as one of the best events of 2014.

“I don’t make peace with the immensity of the world – I find peace in the immensity of the world. Nothing comforts me more than to feel small, insignificant, vulnerable, evanescent, mortal. That’s close to the heart of religious experience for me,” said John Luther Adams, composer of Ten Thousand Birds. “That may sound weird, but that’s what I want to connect with through music. That’s what I hope, at times, the music does for you as a listener. It just reminds you of those things, invites you to wake up and pay attention.

We are inseparable from this profoundly sensuous world that we inhabit. In fact, the whole shape of the human mind is formed in response to light and wind and sounds and birdsongs and leaves. I’m enough of an ecologist in that sense, I guess, to believe that really we don’t create anything. We could argue it becomes a game of syntax. Is there such a thing as abstract thought, or not? My point is that just about everything that we imagine, we’re inventing or creating, is really just an echo, just a response to creation itself.

The reason that music is worthy of a lifetime of devotion is that it’s so much bigger than I am. It’s so much bigger than I can ever expect to understand. It’s my life’s work and I still have no idea what music is.”

“John’s music is about creating musical communities that connect us to one another other, and to the Earth. This kind of community has never been more deeply needed than it is now,” said Alan Pierson, artistic director of Alarm Will Sound. “And so, bringing his work into the world at this moment — as we ourselves take our first careful steps out of lockdown — is deeply meaningful and joyful for all of us in Alarm Will Sound.”

Press Contact
Alanna Maharajh Stone
[email protected]