The 2013-2014 season promises to be an exciting one for violinist Midori, as she embarks on the 31st year of her performing career. 2013-2014 will bring the release of two new recordings in the latter part of 2013. The first, as part of the NDR Symphony's traversal of the complete orchestral works of Paul Hindemith on Finnish label Ondine, is a rare recording by Midori of the composer's violin concerto, in collaboration with NDR and conductor Christoph Eschenbach. The second is a recital program with pianist Özgür Aydin in sonatas for violin and piano by Shostakovich, Janáček, and Bloch, to be released by Onyx (ONYX4084). Other season highlights include her first performances in Iceland, India and Africa; the UK premiere of Peter Eötvös' new violin concerto DoReMi, written for Midori and scheduled for performance by one of its co-commissioners, the BBC PROMS, featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen; and an extended community engagement program in Myanmar in December. Midori will perform the new Eötvös concerto two more times this season, with both the Netherlands Philharmonic with the composer himself conducting, and with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. She will appear with James Conlon and the Montreal Symphony, the Louisville Symphony and Jorge Mester, and with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Christoph Eschenbach. Midori will do four recital tours with pianist Özgür Aydin, conduct community engagement programs in four different countries and five different communities within the U.S., and continue her leadership role at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music as Chair of the Strings Department.
Today Midori is recognized as an extraordinary performer, a devoted and gifted educator, and an innovative community engagement activist. In recognition of the breadth and quality of her work in these three entirely separate fields, in 2012 she was given the prestigious Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum in Davos, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Yale University. In 2007, she was named a Messenger of Peace by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In essence, over the years she has created a new model for young artists who seek to balance the joys and demands of a performing career at the highest level with a hands-on investment in the power of music to change lives.
Named Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Southern California in 2012, Midori works with her students at USC's Thornton School, where she is also Jascha Heifetz Chair and Chair of the Strings Department. Midori thrives amidst the challenges presented by her full-time career as educator and administrator at a major university. To these commitments she adds a guest professorship at Japan's Soai University, and substantial periods of time devoted to community engagement work.
Midori's involvement with community engagement began in earnest in 1992. Then just 21 years of age, she started an organization to bring music to underserved neighborhoods in the U.S. and Japan. What started with just individual personal appearances by Midori in classrooms and hospitals has blossomed over the last 21 years into four distinct organizations, whose impact is felt worldwide. The underlying idea inspiring Midori's community engagement work is that the joy of music should be available to all.
Because people in wealthy or privileged circumstances have easy access to the performing arts, Midori's organizations focus on bringing music to the less fortunate. Her foundation Midori & Friends provides a multi-tiered, 26-week course of music instruction and community concerts to New York City school children (www.midoriandfriends.org); Partners in Performance offers recitals by Midori, pianist Jonathan Biss and others to chamber music lovers in tiny communities throughout the U.S. (www.pipmusic.org); Orchestra Residencies Program brings a week-long residency by Midori to two U.S. youth orchestras with winning applications each year (www.gotomidori.com/orp/); and Music Sharing provides both traditional Japanese music and Western classical music performances and workshops to children in schools, hospitals and institutions in Japan (www.musicsharing.jp). Both Orchestra Residencies Program and Music Sharing also conduct satellite programs with Midori internationally, in such countries as Costa Rica, Myanmar, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Brazil, Cambodia, South Africa and more.
Midori's enthusiasm for playing and supporting the music of our time has blossomed into a significant and ongoing commitment. Over the years she has commissioned works for a great variety of forces. Over all, the individuals Midori has sought out to create new repertoire for the violin represent an impressive array of some of the most talented of today's composers, including Lee Hyla, Rodion Shchedrin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Derek Bermel, Brett Dean, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Michael Hersch, Pierre Jalbert, and now Peter Eötvös. The next new work Midori has commissioned - from Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud - will be premiered at the 2014 Lucerne Festival.
Midori's two new recordings on Ondine and Onyx will join an already extensive discography on two other labels, with fourteen recordings on Sony Classical and two on Philips (for full list, see www.kathrynkingmedia.com / Midori / Discography)
In 2004, Midori joined the ranks of published authors with the release in Germany of a memoir titled Einfach Midori (Simply Midori), for the publisher Henschel Verlag. It was updated and reissued in German-speaking territories in 2011.
In 2000, Midori received her bachelor's degree in Psychology and Gender Studies at the Gallatin School of New York University, graduating magna cum laude, and in 2005 earned her Master's degree in Psychology, also from NYU.
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. Zubin Mehta first heard Midori play in 1982, and it was he who invited her to make her now legendary debut - at the age of 11 - at the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve concert, on which occasion she received a standing ovation and the impetus to begin a major career. Today Midori lives in Los Angeles. Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Huberman." She uses three bows - two by Dominique Peccatte, and one by Paul Siefried.
Photo: Jennifer Johann