March 29, 2023

Academy student Elora Kares to be featured on NPR’s “Daily Joy”

Cellist Elora Kares performs with a violinist and pianist in Mixon Hall
Cellist and composer Elora Kares, right, records a piano trio she wrote for NPR's "Daily Joy" series.

CIM Academy student Elora Kares isn’t just gifted. She’s one-in-a-million. 

Not only does Kares sing, play cello and compose at a high level. She also experiences the world differently, thanks to multiple forms of synesthesia involving colors, sounds, emotions, letters and numbers. 

“It’s definitely an asset,” said Kares, a 17-year-old native of Maine and recent transplant to Cleveland. “I am very blessed. I can’t imagine not being this way.” 

Elora’s many gifts will soon be the subject of a profile on National Public Radio. 

After featuring her on its popular show From the Top, NPR has returned to highlight Kares performing one of her own compositions in an episode within a special Daily Joy series about young artists who are disabled or (like Kares, who is also autistic) neuro-divergent. 

Kares, who studies voice at CIM with Emily Stauch and cello with Si-Yan Darren Li, will be featured on the Daily Joy episode airing Monday, April 3. The episode can be viewed at  

The staff at NPR “have all been so nuanced and caring,” Kares said. “I’m very honored to be part of this.” 

Nuance is a helpful skill when it comes to Kares, to appreciating the several forms of synesthesia she experiences.  

The dominant and most common form she has is chromesthesia, in which sounds evoke colors and shapes. In Kares, though, those same sounds and colors also conjure emotions, shapes or numbers, or evince certain personalities.  

Sometimes, too, Kares sees or hears sounds in spatial relation to each other, as if they were stacked objects, and experiences pain and numbers as colors. On top of all of this, she has perfect pitch, enabling her to perform perhaps the world’s best party trick. 

“I’ll have my friends smash their hands on the piano and I’ll tell them all the notes,” Kares said. “It’s very fun.” 

Of course, synesthesia is no joke. Indeed, for Kares, it’s the defining element of her musical life, and a major factor in how she navigates what she hopes will be a career in music.  

Because of her synesthesia, Kares gravitates to lower sounds and Baroque tuning, both of which evoke warmer colors and feelings. For this reason, she prefers Baroque music. This has led her to Apollo’s Fire, where she currently serves as a voice apprentice.  

It also has redoubled her love of composition. Writing her own pieces, “I’m able to express synesthesia through music,” Kares said. “It’s almost like watercolors. I write with big washes of color.”  

Composition is one way Kares expresses herself. Another is writing.  

For that reason, in between her studies and performances, Kares is now writing a book, in hopes not only of explaining her world-view but also of helping others who may not realize the gift or gifts they possess.  

Her goal with Daily Joy is virtually the same: to create awareness.  

“Synesthesia can be very complicated, but there’s actually a lot of logic to it,” Kares said. “I would like for people to open their minds.” 

Kares isn’t the only CIM student to be featured on Daily Joy. On Friday, March 24, the series featured second-year viola student Nilli Tayidi.  

Reached for comment that day, Tayidi expressed gratitude at being included as well as insight on the significant role music plays in their life. They performed the Courante from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011.

“I am incredibly honored to be part of From the Top's Daily Joy series celebrating disabled/neurodivergent musicians!” Tayidi said.   

“As an autistic musician, I have noticed that our stories are often overlooked, and am glad to see our community spotlighted by such an influential organization. Especially wonderful is the musical aspect, as many of us more fluently speak through our instruments than words.”