As a soloist, he has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the New York String Seminar Orchestra. He is a regular member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and a founding member of the Brooklyn Rider string quartet .
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.
He currently teaches at Stony Brook University in New York, and spends part of his summer schedule teaching at the Bennington Chamber Music and Composers Conference, and has also 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.