For more than two decades, omnivorous violist Nicholas Cords has been on the front line of a growing constellation of projects as performer, educator, and cultural advocate. As Co-Artistic director of Silkroad, newly appointed faculty member at New England Conservatory (starting Fall 2018) violist of Brooklyn Rider, and Artist-In-Residence at Stony Brook University, he is deeply committed to music from a broad variety of traditions and epochs, with a particular passion for the cross-section between the long tradition of classical music and the polyglot music of today. Nicholas serves as violist, Programming Chair, and Co-Artistic director of Silkroad, a musical collective founded by Yo-Yo Ma in 2000 with the simple belief that radical cross-cultural collaboration leads to a more hopeful world.
As a soloist, he has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Bridgeport Symphony. Recent other highlights include performances at the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg in works ranging from Feldman to Wuorinen (many heard in Russia for the first time) and the Vail International Dance Festival, where he participated in a revival of a long dormant Balanchine choreography set to Stravinsky's Élegie for solo viola with the great Brazilian ballerina Carla Körbes. His highly acclaimed 2013 debut solo album, Recursions (In A Circle Records), features works ranging from Biber to Hindemith to Cords' own Five Migrations.He has appeared frequently over the years 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. In addition, he has worked with many ensembles, including the Knights, the Caramoor Virtuousi, the Smithsonian Chamber Players, An Die Musik, and the Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert.
Beginning his musical education at the Juilliard School, Nicholas 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 and mentors have included Karen Tuttle, Harvey Shapiro, Joseph Fuchs, and Felix Galamir. A committed teacher, Nicholas currently teaches at Stony Brook University in New York. Mr. Cords plays on an instrument made for him in 2014 by famed Brooklyn maker Samuel Zygmuntowicz, modeled on the ex-William Primrose Giuseppe Guarneri (filius Andrea) from 1697. He performs on bows from a wide variety of the world’s top modern makers including Charles Espey and Benoit Rolland.