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Wellness and inspiration with violinist Andrew Sords

Andrew Sords

Bananas, sushi and Red Bull - that's what's on violinist Andrew Sords' pre-concert menu this weekend.

The internationally touring soloist will be performing with Traverse Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Kevin Rhodes at the Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City on Saturday and Sunday.

Sords has a busy schedule; he's performed with nearly 300 orchestras and says he manages it all by prioritizing wellness.

"It's all about feeling your best," he says - hence the sushi.

Sords is an active chamber musician, too, and he says chamber music gigs are a welcome break from the solitary musical world of a soloist.

He says, as a performer, that was one particularly difficult part of the pandemic: the lack of musician-to-musician and musician-to-audience interaction.

Through COVID shutdowns, Sords stayed in shape by maintaining his practice schedule, holding distanced rehearsals with friends and performing live-streamed concerts.

"[The live-streamed concerts were] frightening, because I love the energy from the audience. Otherwise, you've got to muster up energy in a cold space with nobody there to applaud and do an hour and 20 minutes of Brahms," he says.

For this session, Sords chose to perform violinist Nathan Milstein's famous transcription of Chopin's Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor.

"I used to play piano, and of course, there's something very nostalgic and sentimental about the Chopin themes," he says.

This isn't Sords' first Interlochen visit - he attended Interlochen Arts Camp as a young violinist, where he says performances by artists like Josh Groban helped solidify his career choice.

"You hear these tremendous personalities and it sort of lights a fire," he says.

Sords shared a few other Interlochen memories, including that his prepaid student account, which many campers use to buy Scholarshop goods and Melody Freeze treats, was, to his mother's dismay, persistently low.

He wasn't buying what she thought he was, though.

"She'd say, 'Stop eating all this ice cream!' And I said 'No, actually, it's all sheet music.'"

You can see Sords and Rhodes perform works by Brahms, Mendelssohn and Sibelius in person on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Find out more on the Traverse Symphony Orchestra's website.

Stefan Wiebe engineered this edition of Studio A.

Kacie Brown is IPR's digital content manager.

Nancy Deneen is the host of Music at Midday and Music by Request.