Nicholas Cords Joins NEC Viola Faculty

Co-Artistic Director of Silkroad and founding member of Brooklyn Rider will arrive on campus Fall semester of 2018

Nicholas Cords pauses while touring with Brooklyn Rider to record this message for the NEC community.


We are pleased to announce the appointment of violist Nicholas Cords to our world-renowned strings faculty.

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, including his ongoing work as Co-Artistic Director of Silkroad and violist of Brooklyn Rider. Cords will offer his expertise beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, working with the exceptional NEC students.

“We are thrilled to have Nick join our viola faculty.”

“We are thrilled to have Nick join our viola faculty,” said Interim President Thomas Novak. “He brings extensive performance and teaching experience from around the world, and I am certain that our students will benefit greatly. As Co-Artistic Director of Silkroad, he is also a strong advocate for intercultural exchange.”

“I've long admired NEC's unique learning environment.”

“I’ve long admired NEC’s unique learning environment, one that inspires the highest artistic standards while also creating pathways for students to become true 21st century artists and leaders,” stated Mr. Cords. “I am greatly looking forward to the shared journey ahead and couldn’t be more pleased to join the NEC community.”

Silkroad: radical cross-cultural collaboration for a more hopeful world

Nicholas Cords 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. This mission is poignantly explored by the recent Oscar-nominated documentary by Morgan Neville, The Music Of Strangers, which profiles the individual stories of Ensemble members and makes a case for why culture matters in today’s world.

In recent years, Nicholas has served as Silkroad Programming Chair, taking an active role presenting the Ensemble on the world’s major musical stages, in museum residencies such as at the American Museum of Natural History and the Freer|Sackler Galleries, and also in educational contexts such as their long-standing residency at Harvard University.

He has also been involved in bringing to life more than a hundred compositions and arrangements over the group’s relatively short history. Nicholas appears on all of the Silkroad Ensemble’s albums including Sing Me Home (Sony Music), which received a 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Other albums include Silk Road Journeys, Beyond the Horizon, New Impossibilities, Off the Map, and A Playlist a Without Borders.

Most recently, the group is prominently featured in the soundtrack for Ken Burns’ searing ten-part documentary on the Vietnam War, with an accompanying release available on In A Circle Records.

Brooklyn Rider: string quartet + ballerina + banjo, and then some

Another key aspect of Mr. Cords’s busy musical life is as founding member of Brooklyn Rider, an intrepid group which NPR credits with "recreating the 300-year-old form of the string quartet as a vital and creative 21st-century ensemble.” In a short amount of time, Brooklyn Rider's singular mission and gripping performance style have resulted in an indelible contribution to the world of the string quartet and has brought in legions of fans across the spectrum.

Highly committed to collaborative ventures, the group has worked with Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, ballerina Wendy Whelan, Persian kemancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor, Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, and banjoist Béla Fleck, to name a few. Brooklyn Rider regularly commissions and champions new works, including those by Tyondai Braxton, Gabriel Kahane, John Luther Adams, Caroline Shaw, Evan Ziporyn, plus many more.

For more: Nicholas Cords's faculty profile

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