Violist Nicholas Cords is strongly committed to the advocacy and performance of music from a very broad historic and geographical spectrum. His busy touring schedule has led him in recent years to Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, the Cologne Philharmonie, and the Library of Congress. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the New York String Seminar Orchestra. He recently appeared at the 2012 White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg where he performed recent contemporary American chamber and solo works, including Morton Feldman's The Viola In My Life 3. At the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival, he gave two performances of Stravinsky's Elegie for solo viola with the Brazilian ballerina Carla Korbes in a late Balanchine choreography that hasn't been seen for thirty years. He has appeared in recent years at the Schleswig-Holstein, Santa Fe, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Moritzburg, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Smithsonian Folklife, and Bard Festivals.
Mr. Cords is a regular member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, a musical collective that uses the historic Silk Road trading route as a metaphor for musical exchange and creativity in the present. The group has not only traveled to many of the major musical centers of the United States and Europe, but also to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Egypt, Iran, Syria and a number of the Central Asian Republics. In addition to performing with the ensemble, he has taken a role in the organization and development of new creative projects, programming for concerts and museum residencies, and as an active part of two long-term residencies with the group; one at the Rhode Island School of Design and one at Harvard University. Mr. Cords appears on all four of the ensemble’s albums; Silk Road Journeys, Beyond the Horizon, New Impossibilites and Off the Map.
He has appeared frequently on television and radio including a Chinese National Television broadcast from the Great Wall, the David Letterman Show, numerous National Public Radio broadcasts, Good Morning America, NHK Japan, and a four year run as resident commentator and performer on WQXR New York’s Radio weekly On A-I-R. Mr. Cords is an active member of many ensembles, including the Caramoor Virtuousi, An Die Musik, The Knights, and the Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert.
Mr. Cords is also a founding member of Brooklyn Rider; a genre-defying string quartet dedicated to creative programming of repertoire both new and old (www.brooklynrider.com). The group has collaborated with composers all over the globe, as well as with Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, Persian kemancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor, Japanese shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki, banjo phenomenon Bela Fleck, and songstress Suzanne Vega, to name a few. Equally at home in concert halls and clubs, Brooklyn Rider was the only classical group invited to play in the 2010 South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Last season’s highlights included Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall debuts. This season sees the group touring in North America and Asia, along with premieres of works by John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Vijay Iyer, Padma Newsome, Greg Saunier, and more. Their recordings, Silent City, Passport, and Dominant Curve, Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass, and Seven Steps have received wide critical acclaim from sources ranging from Gramophone Magazine to Pitchfork.
Mr. Cords began his musical education at the Juilliard School where he won top honors in the viola competition and subsequently gave the New York premiere of John Harbison’s Viola Concerto at Avery Fisher Hall. He completed his studies at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. His teachers have included Karen Tuttle, Harvey Shapiro, Joseph Fuchs, and Felix Galamir. A committed teacher, Mr. Cords currently teaches at Stony Brook University. He spends part of his summer schedule teaching at the Bennington Chamber Music and Composers Conference and served for eight years as viola instructor at Princeton University. He has twice participated as a mentor along with other members of the Silk Road Ensemble in the Weill Institute Professional Training Workshops at Carnegie Hall and has also delivered a series of teacher workshops for the New York City Department of Education on music and the role of it can play in cross-cultural understanding. He recently presented a talk at the American Association of Museums National Conference on the role of music in a museum setting. He is a regular contributor to NPR’s classical music blog Deceptive Cadence. Mr. Cords plays on an instrument made for him in 2008 by famed Brooklyn maker Samuel Zygmuntowicz.