League of Arts Music Camp Instructor Bio


 

Cassandra Sotos / Fiddle  Cassandra Sotos& Violin

 Cassandra "Cat" Sotos has been playing the violin since she was four years old. Cassandra barely remembers life before violin, and says that she wanted to play violin as soon as she ever saw one. She was never forced. When attending a Pittsburgh Symphony educational day camp for children in pre-school, she saw someone playing the violin and immediately knew that was what she wanted to do. She even went as far as to ask her parents for violin lessons every day for an entire year. When they realized she was serious about the violin, Cassandra's parents looked for a violin teacher but had trouble finding someone who would take such a young student. They finally found a teacher in Pittsburgh who was willing to take her on and train her in the Suzuki Method, which helped her realize her greatest gift: playing by ear. Cassandra was instructed in the Suzuki method for the first seven years and extended her classical training privately at Carnegie Mellon University Preparatory for five years where she also trained in Chamber music with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She has attended Mark OíConnorís Fiddle Camp in Nashville, Tennessee for ten consecutive years, starting at age eight. Her first "paid" gig was with the League of Arts Square Dance band, and she played fiddle for that band for several years. While at the League, Cassandra learned the ropes of classic country and old time music, and began honing her skills of improvisation.  Throughout the years she has been awarded many "Grand Champion Fiddler" titles at old time and bluegrass fiddle contests around the tri-state area. 
          Cassandra has played with several Pittsburgh area country bands but most notably spent four years as the lead fiddle for the country band NOMaD ( North of Mason Dixon). NOMaDís debut CD, "Born and Raised" was released in April , 2006.  "Born and Raised" was well received in the tri-state area radio community.  Their first single, "North of Mason Dixon," was heard on radio stations all over Pittsburgh just like any national artist!  Several tracks made it to the national radio airplay spins charts, something virtually unheard of for independent unsigned artists.  The group worked very closely with Froggy  97 Radio in Pittsburgh and were featured in countless Froggy 97-sponsored events.  Cassandra also made several 'guest DJ' appearances on prime time Froggy 97 radio for special events.  With NOMaD,  Cassandra has performed in front of thousands of people and has had the opportunity to open for several national artists, including: 
Toby Keith - Rascal Flatts - Big & Rich - Brooks & Dunn - Kenny Chesney - George Jones - Neal McCoy - Don Williams - Van Zant - Sara Evans - Alan Jackson - David Allan Coe - SheDaisy - Joe Nichols - Shooter Jennings - Trent Tomlinson - Trisha Yearwood - And Many Others    She has also made performances at Heinz Field at numerous Pittsburgh Steelers games. 
          Cassandra has done studio recording for other area artists -ranging from country to heavy metal- and produced her own solo Christmas CD in December, 2007. Versatility, she says, is her strength: adept at playing by ear, "Cat" can pick up the fiddle at any venue and have the audience on its feet. Cassandra is currently pursuing a solo career as a violinist and performer. In January 2008, she had the great opportunity to perform at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York City as part of the legendary "Amateur Night at the Apollo." At the Apollo, Cassandra debuted her new instrument the "Viper," an extraordinary electric violin made by Mark Wood--owner of
Wood Violins (www.woodviolins.com). Cassandra's Viper is a 7 string "flying V" white sparkling electric violin.
Cassandra is now a proud artist and representative for Wood Violins and can be seen performing with the 'family' at promotional events across the country.  She has attended and performed at the
NAMM show with Wood Violins and is scheduled to perform there again this upcoming January 2011  Since becoming an artist for Wood Violins, Cassandra has had the opportunity to share the stage  with her long-time idol and inspiration, the great Mark Wood on several occasions.  She has also been fortunate enough to become involved in his spectacular educational program, Electrify Your Strings.
          One more tinnnny thing... Cassandra has just received her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering with Honors in Industrial Engineering Product Design and a Minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship from the Pennsylvania State University
Schreyer Honors College in August 2010.

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