In the 2008-2009 season, violinist Midori concocts the blend of worldwide performances (90), expanding commitment to community engagement, devotion to her various roles at the prestigious University of Southern California, and enthusiastic exploration of new territory that fans, students, and media alike have come to expect from this brilliant and multi-faceted artist. Her season will include a first-ever tour of trio repertoire with two distinguished colleagues, pianist Jonathan Biss and cellist Johannes Moser; her first appearances in Central America, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica; two rare appearances at the intimate Wigmore Hall in London, and the opening of the Bruckner Festival with Bruckner Orchestra Linz.
The season commences with appearances – in recital, chamber music, or concerto repertoire – at numerous festivals worldwide, including Harrogate, Delft Chamber Music, Ljubljana, Eastern, Tivoli, Britt Festivals, and Tanglewood. Midori's performing colleagues of 2008-09 will include the Toronto Symphony conducted by Jun Märkl, Boston Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln with Pietari Inkinen, Vienna Symphony and Christian Arming, Seattle Symphony with Gerard Schwarz, Los Angeles Philharmonic under Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and performances with two members of the Järvi family: Paavo with the Cincinnati Symphony, and Kristian with the LSO. The season also features seven tours (5 recital, 1 chamber music, 1 concerto) and seven major community engagement programs – five in the U.S. and two in Asia. In addition to the standard repertoire, Midori's musical palette for 2008-09 extends back as far as J.S.Bach, and forward to embrace such composers as Cage, Enescu, Kirchner, and Pärt.
Midori continues to devote a substantial amount of time to several community-directed initiatives she has established to address an issue she believes to be of crucial and ever-growing importance: access. Midori feels passionately that people must have access to a variety of great music, regardless of their age, race, social class, geographic location, or financial means (In 2007 Midori was designated an official U.N. Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who cited her community engagement work as a model of exemplary commitment to worldwide goals shared by the U.N.).
**The first organization she founded to tackle this issue was Midori & Friends, started in 1992 in response to serious cutbacks in music education in New York City schools; over the last 16 years, over 150,000 children have benefitted from this program. Midori & Friends provides comprehensive music education (including instrument instruction and general music instruction), workshops and concerts to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity for involvement in the arts. The foundation is now partnered with numerous public schools in New York City. Midori performs at many of the schools, and so also do musicians representing other musical genres, from jazz players to African drummers to Chinese flutists, and more. Midori & Friends now also presents an all-day children's music festival annually in New York City.
Midori has also founded a similar organization in Japan, **Music Sharing. Music Sharing concentrates on music education for young people with a special focus on both Western classical music and traditional Japanese music, including instrument instruction for the disabled. The programs, which are offered in public schools, children's hospitals and special institutions, place an emphasis on active audience participation and collaboration. Music Sharing also has important programs for future teachers and young musicians. This season Music Sharing will sponsor an International Community Engagement Program - its third program outside Japan - in Indonesia. The ICEP is a training program for aspiring musicians who are chosen internationally by audition each year; the program offers these young people exposure to different cultures, community work and involvement, cultural exchange, and the opportunity to collaborate in a learning environment with Midori and the host country's local musicians. In previous years the program has been conducted in Vietnam and Cambodia.
From the money she won as part of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize (2001), in 2003 Midori created another non-profit organization, **Partners in Performance. The aim of "PiP" is to broaden the audience for chamber music by bringing high profile chamber music performances to small community-based organizations in the U.S. Among the communities where PiP has been presented since its inception are Randolph, Vermont; Manasquan, New Jersey; Plymouth, New Hampshire; Elmer, New Jersey; Barron, Wisconsin; Richland, Washington; McHenry, Maryland; and four small communities in Montana and Minnesota. In the 2008-09 season, Midori will conduct Partners in Performance programs in Reno, Nevada, and Joplin, Missouri.
2004-2005 marked the inauguration of Midori's **Orchestra Residencies Program, in which she spends a week with a local youth orchestra which has ties to a small professional orchestra; Midori performs with both orchestras, coaching young musicians, appearing at benefits and subscription series concerts and working with both orchestras to raise arts awareness within the community. Orchestra Residencies Programs have been conducted in Alaska (Fairbanks and Anchorage), Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Iowa. In 2008-09, there will be Orchestra Residencies in Illinois and Alabama.
Midori's past projects have included a series of concerts and appearances in small, outlying Japanese towns called **Total Experience. Inaugurated in the 2002-2003 season, this series involved experimentation with thematic concepts and proactive audience participation. In 2005, Midori created another Total Experience model, this time in collaboration with arts management majors at universities in Niigata and Atsugi, Japan. At the outset of the 2003-2004 season, Midori inaugurated a series of residencies - the **University Residencies Program - each to involve 10 to 14 day visits to universities (spread out over two years) by Midori. The object of the residencies was to strengthen ties among the artists, students, faculty, and University-affiliated presenters; she invited the participation of music majors and non-majors alike in planning and coordinating events. Midori gave two recitals as part of each residency, and included concerto performances with affiliated university orchestras. Midori conducted University Residencies at North Park University in Chicago, and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Midori's devotion to music education involves not only her extensive community engagement efforts but a deep commitment to her work at the University of Southern California. At USC's Thornton School of Music, Midori holds the prestigious Jascha Heifetz Chair, and also serves as Chair of the Strings Department. As such, in addition to her administrative duties, she provides private violin instruction, chamber music coaching and devising a curriculum in community engagement studies. At USC, Midori actively performs with her students both on and off campus. In addition and on an ongoing basis, Midori enjoys working with young violinists in master classes all over the world.
Midori and violinist Vadim Repin have joined forces in a new initiative, the Midori/Repin Commissioning Project. Through Meet the Composer's New Music, New Donors program, individual donors will commission four solo works, each four minutes in length, to be used by the violinists as encores and in personal appearances in a variety of contexts, including fundraising events, media promotion and community work. Midori and Repin have chosen four composers whose work they admire, and of the first group of compositions to be commissioned, two have been completed: Passeggiata by Lee Hyla, and Gypsy Melody by Rodion Shchedrin. To date, the commissioners include Susan V. Carson, Kathleen Henschel, Barrett Wissman, and Crystal Arts.
Midori made her first recording at the age of 14 for Philips - she played music of Bach and Vivaldi with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman. She now records exclusively for Sony BMG, which issued two Midori releases in 2008 – an album joining sonatas of J.S.Bach (Unaccompanied No.2 in A minor) and Bartók (No.1 in C-sharp minor, with pianist Robert McDonald); and a 2-CD compilation of catalogue material, Essential Midori. In 2003 Sony Classical released Midori's recording of the Bruch G minor and Mendelssohn E minor concertos, recorded live with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Mariss Jansons. This recording won Germany's coveted Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, as did her recording of French recital repertoire with pianist Robert McDonald. The first Super Audio CD issued by Sony Classical featured Midori's recording of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, K.320d, with violist Nobuko Imai, as well as the reconstructed Concerto in D Major for Violin and Piano (K.315f) with Christoph Eschenbach as both pianist and conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. Other concerto recordings include a disk pairing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1, both recorded live with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic; the Dvo?ák Violin Concerto with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, also recorded live; the two Bartók Violin Concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic under Mr. Mehta; and the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, with Mr. Mehta ftlineand the Israel Philharmonic. Among Midori's other Sony Classical CDs is a Grammy-nominated recording of the Paganini Caprices for Solo Violin. Midori's recorded collaborations with Robert McDonald include a recording of the Elgar and Franck sonatas, an album of French sonatas, and Encore!, a collection of virtuoso showpieces. Sony's live recording of Midori's Carnegie Hall recital debut (October 1990), is also available on CD.
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.
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971 and began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. In 1982, when Zubin Mehta first heard her play, he was so impressed that he invited her to be a surprise guest soloist for 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.
Midori lives in Los Angeles. In 2000, she 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 received her Master's degree in Psychology. Away from school and the concert hall, Midori enjoys reading, writing and attending the theater. Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Hubermann", which is on lifetime loan to her from the Hayashibara Foundation. She uses three bows, two by Dominique Peccatte and the third by François Peccatte.