In Concert: John Cordes

  • Friday, March 7, 2014

Taylor Griffith/Journal Scene John Cordes is a student at Ashley Ridge High School and a first chair violinist with the Summerville Community Orchestra. He also is the wing commander in his Air Force Junior ROTC unit.

During his school day at Ashley Ridge High, John Cordes gives orders to his fellow Air Force Junior ROTC cadets as the unit’s wing commander.

But on Monday nights, Cordes is the one taking orders when he practices with the Summerville Community Orchestra.

Cordes is one of the first chair violinists with the orchestra, a position he is used to.

He sat as first chair at all of the concerts for the Rollings Middle School of the Arts orchestra when he was a student there. Upon entering high school, Cordes began playing with the Ashley Ridge orchestra and started taking lessons from SCO conductor Alex Agrest. He was invited to play with SCO his sophomore year.

“There’s a message behind it all,” he said of playing with the orchestra. “It’s about teamwork and serving. It’s a great way to serve because we’re not playing for money, we’re playing for the people who come to listen. And when we all come together the music clicks.”

The same elements – teamwork and serving – can be seen throughout Cordes’ life.

In addition to being involved in the JROTC Drill Team and Honor Guard, he’s also spent three years with the Summerville Police Cadets, attended the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar, and is an assisting minister at his church, St. Luke’s Lutheran, where he’s also a member of the council and the Call Committee.

Not surprisingly, Cordes said his goal is to pursue a career in chaplaincy or federal law enforcement. “I will probably do both, just not at the same time,” he said.

Next year Cordes hopes to attend one of the U.S. services academies, but locally has options with The Citadel, University of South Carolina, College of Charleston and Charleston Southern University, where he’s been accepted.

Although he doesn’t plan to pursue his violin as a career, Cordes knows he’ll never give it up. “I think when you play an instrument it’s the kind of thing you get hooked on. When you’re invested in it you develop a real passion for it. You end up seeking out challenges because it will help continue to develop you in music. It’s the same with any club or sport.”

Constantly developing musical talent is something he recommends for every musician, especially in the context of playing with a community orchestra. “The biggest thing is, don’t quit. It’s very challenging at the beginning. Even if you’re the best musician out there, I’d still say don’t quit. You learn a lot by being in the orchestra and by being in music. It’s definitely something you’ll always remember, cherish and value.

“When you’re up on stage you see where all your hard work went, and what tops it all off is seeing the enjoyment of the audience. I think Summerville appreciates having a community orchestra. Any way to bring culture into our town is a good thing.”

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