50 Years of Alumni: Nick Cords

College(s)/University attended:
The Juilliard School and The Curtis Institute of Music

What years were you in GTCYS?

What skills or lessons did you learn in GTCYS that you still use today?
In GTCYS, I always felt encouraged and inspired to bring my “A-game,” but I also got my first taste of what it meant to be part of an enterprise where the overall result was greater than the sum of the individual parts. To me, this is the true spirit of being a team player, and I look for that collective spirit in everything that I do to this day.

Why do you think GTCYS is important for students now?
I think it’s vitally important to find a community of friends who are similarly passionate and engaged. I wasn’t able to find that group in my high school experience, but I very easily found that community of kindred spirits in GTCYS.

How does music still play a part in your life?
I’m lucky enough to be a professional violist, which means I wear a number of hats. I teach viola and chamber music at the New England Conservatory of Music, I play in a string quartet called Brooklyn Rider that tours the world, and I also play as a part of the Silkroad Ensemble, a group founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma more than 20 years ago.

What is your favorite composer or piece of music?
Impossible to answer! Part of the reason why is that our job as musicians is to love every piece we’re playing as if it is one’s favorite! I will say that one of the most gratifying things I do is to work with living composers bringing new pieces of music to life. I would guess that I’ve been part of hundreds and hundreds of premieres over the years.

What do you hope to see from GTCYS in the next 50 years?
A thriving organization that carries on the tradition of classical music through thoughtful engagement of an ever-growing cannon and actively fostering the music of the future (in equal parts!).

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