American violinist Andrew Sords is recognized internationally for his performances combining visceral virtuosity and ravishing tone. Hailed in the press as “a fully formed artist” (Kalisz-Poland News), “utterly radiant” (Canada’s Arts Forum), and “exceptionally heartfelt and soulful” (St. Maarten’s Daily Herald), Sords has received numerous awards and distinctions reflecting his career trajectory, including the Pittsburgh Concert Society’s Career Grant and the NFMC Young Artist Award.
Born in Newark, Delaware, Sords began piano lessons at the age of 5, followed shortly by violin studies with Liza Grossman. Sords became a pupil of Linda Cerone, David Russell, and Chee-Yun Kim at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Southern Methodist University, and a series of international invitations helped catapult a solo career that has since spanned 4 continents and collaborations with nearly 250 orchestras.
Andrew Sords has performed regularly with celebrated orchestras and conductors. In recent seasons, concerto appearances have included the Oakland Symphony, Windsor Symphony, Kalisz Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony, Cleveland Philharmonic, Boulder Chamber Orchestra, North State Symphony, Toronto Philharmonia, Gulf Coast Symphony and Melbourne Chamber Symphony, among numerous others. Sords has worked with myriad conductors including Robert Franz, Michael Morgan, Sidney Harth, Mario Mateus, Carl Topilow, Scott Seaton, Luis Biava, and Matthew Kraemer. A recent outdoor performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was heard by an estimated audience of 30,000. A prolific recitalist, Sords has appeared in St. Croix, San Miguel de Allende, Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and has an upcoming tour of the Mendelssohn Piano Trios and Violin Sonata in Toronto, Buffalo, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo. As a frequent soloist in the Caribbean, Sords has appeared in Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a recent series of performances with the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Philharmonic was profiled by “STRINGS MAGAZINE”. At a hometown appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, the press enthused: “Sords impressed with his total command of technique, consummate musicianship and bravura as he tossed of scads of notes and sang out like a diva.” (Cleveland Classical)
Sords has appeared regularly as a guest on the festival circuit including summer appearances in Fairbanks, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and the Republic of Georgia with Liana Isakadze’s World Virtuosi. With Ms. Isakadze’s ensemble, Sords appears in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. Future engagements include appearances for the EMMA Recital Series and Norton Museum Series (Florida); Brahms and Tchaikovsky trios with John Walz and Timothy Durkovic in Los Angeles; the Dvorak Violin Concerto at Toronto’s famed Glenn Gould Theatre; recitals for the Johnstown Chamber Music Series, Maui Chamber Music Society, ProMusica San Miguel; and the Sibelius concerto with the Winchester Orchestra and North State Symphony. With pianist Elizabeth DeMio, Sords has presented sonata cycle evenings of Brahms and Schumann, and installments of the complete Beethoven violin/piano oeuvre are forthcoming.
A man of diverse interests, Sords competed in the charity fundraiser “Pittsburgh’s Dancing With The Stars” as the first classical artist to do so. Sords has performed numerous times for GLBT outreach, including return appearances with the Minnesota Philharmonic, Atlanta Philharmonic, and on Sirius XM’s Derek and Romaine Show. Additionally, Sords performed the National Anthem for ESPN2’s WNBA Pride Game (2014). Inspired by living composers, Sords is dedicated to introducing works of our times including Joan Tower, Evan Fein, and Stephen Feigenbaum. Sords’s recent collaboration with Sean Christopher on the New-Age album “Transcendence” has been a commercial and critical success, with reviews stating: “much of this is owed to the gorgeous and precise playing of Andrew Sords, whose violin adds a thrumming undercurrent of pure life throughout the album’s stainless steel structure.” This album is available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and CDBaby.
Joseph Johnson has been heard throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician and educator. His festival appearances include performances in all classical genres at the American festivals of Santa Fe, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Bard, Cactus Pear, Grand Teton, and Music in the Vineyards as well as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and the Virtuosi Festival in Brazil.
Highlights of Joseph Johnson’s 2015/2016 fall/winter season include three performances of the Brahms Double Concerto for Opening Week with the Toronto Symphony and a performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto in San Francisco with the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. Joseph will be making his Edmonton Symphony debut with a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto as well as Miguel del Aguila’s Concierto en Tango, a concerto of which Mr. Johnson performed the Canadian Premiere with the Toronto Symphony last June. He will also be heard in recital at the Chatter series in Albuquerque, a solo recital at the Free Concert Series at the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, as well as recitals throughout North America. Mr. Johnson recently celebrated the release of his album with pianist Victor Asuncion featuring the Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich Sonatas. He also completed a special recording project with the G. Schirmer Instrumental Library: The Cello Collection. Published in three volumes by Hal Leonard and featuring companion recordings by Mr. Johnson, this project presents cello literature appropriate for recitals and contests, and is available online and from major music retailers worldwide.
In March 2012 Joseph Johnson performed the North American premiere of the Cello Concerto Grosso by Peter Oetvos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic. He recently completed a U.S. tour with Victor Asuncion, performed Don Quixote with Sir Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony, as well as with Victor Yampolsky and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, performed the Barber Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and performed multiple concerts in the summer of 2015 at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Johnson is also a founding member of the newly created XIA Quartet. (xiaquartet.com)
Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the 2009/2010 season, Mr. Johnson previously held the same position with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera, and during the 2008-2009 season, was acting principal cellist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his Milwaukee appointment, Joseph Johnson was a member of The Minnesota Orchestra cello section for eleven years, during which time he performed numerous chamber music works during the orchestra’s Sommerfest, both as cellist and pianist. He was a founding member of both the Prospect Park Players and the Minneapolis Quartet, the latter of which was honoured with The McKnight Foundation Award in 2005.
A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson has conducted master classes repeatedly at The New World Symphony, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, and the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Toronto symphonies, as well as at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Joseph Johnson earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University. Awards and honours include a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and first prize from the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition.
Mr. Johnson performs on a magnificent Juan Guillami cello, crafted in 1747 in Barcelona.