University of Southern California Thornton School of Music
Midori is a visionary artist, activist and educator whose unique career has transcended traditional boundaries through her relentless drive to explore and build connections between music and the human experience. Never at rest, Midori brings the same dynamic innovation and expressive insight that has made her a top concert violinist to her other roles as a leading global cultural ambassador and a dedicated music educator.
A leading concert violinist for over 30 years, Midori regularly transfixes audiences around the world, bringing together graceful precision and intimate expression that allows the listening public to not just hear music but to be personally moved by it. She has performed with the world’s top orchestras including the London Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Cincinnati Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and Czech Philharmonic. In addition, she has collaborated with leading musicians such as Peter Eötvös, Christoph Eschenbach, Daniele Gatti, Alan Gilbert, Susanna Mälkki, Robert Spano, James Conlon and Paavo Järvi, among others.
The 2017 summer season highlights Midori’s versatility with performances of orchestral and chamber works by Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Dvořák in the USA, Canada and Japan. The DVD of her highly-acclaimed interpretation of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin will also be released. In the recording, filmed at Köthen Castle where Bach served as Kapellmeister, Midori unites her technical and expressive mastery with her historic and emotional insight into the composer, providing the viewer with a multidimensional experience of Bach’s music.
Midori not only brings a fresh perspective to established standards for violin but also ceaselessly strives to expand the repertoire, including through the creation of new works. Midori inspired Peter Eötvös to compose the violin concerto DoReMi, which she then recorded with Eötvös and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. The 2016 CD joins her diverse discography that includes sonatas by Bloch, Janáček and Shostakovich performed with pianist Özgür Aydin, and a 2013 Grammy Award-winning recording of Hindemith’s violin concerto with Christoph Eschenbach conducting the NDR Symphony Orchestra.
In her quest to explore and expand how music is essential to people everywhere, Midori goes beyond the concert hall and recording studio to those areas where music access is most needed. In 2017, Midori celebrates the 25th anniversary of the activities of two of her non-profit organizations: Midori & Friends, which brings high-quality music education to New York City school children, and MUSIC SHARING, a Japan-based program that provides access to both western classical and Japanese music traditions through innovative events, activities, instruction and presentations in local schools, institutions and hospitals. Her Partners in Performance organization, founded in 2003, promotes interest in classical music outside of major urban centers across the United States, while her Orchestra Residencies Program, begun in 2004, encourages young musicians to develop a life-long and multifaceted engagement with the performing arts, helping to ensure that the classical scene will continue vibrantly for years to come.
Midori also brings her activism to a global level. MUSIC SHARING’s International Community Engagement Program promotes intercultural exchange by enabling young musicians from around the world to come together and present community performances for audiences with limited exposure to classical music. The program’s ensembles have performed in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Laos, Mongolia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam and Japan, and the 2017-2018 group will head to India as well as return to Japan.
Midori also regularly speaks as an expert on cultural diplomacy, most recently at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. She has been honored for her international activism: in 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Midori a Messenger of Peace, and in 2012 she received the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The same vision that motivates Midori’s activism – discovering and strengthening the bonds between people and music – also guides her educational approach. From the 2018-2019 school year, she joins the renowned violin faculty roster at the Curtis Institute of Music, bringing her musical expertise as an active top-level performer to her studio and her experience as an activist to the school’s community engagement programs. Prior to taking up this position, Midori will visit Curtis to present master classes, work with students on community building, and contribute to the school’s Artist-Citizen courses.
Until May 2018, Midori will also continue as a Distinguished Professor of Violin and the Jascha Heifetz Chair holder at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she has spent 14 years working one-on-one with her violin students. After moving to Curtis, she will continue her involvement at USC through a visiting artist role.
Midori is also an honorary professor at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, a guest professor at both Soai University in Osaka and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and a distinguished visiting artist at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Her own degrees in gender studies and psychology from New York University (BA 2000, MA 2005) strongly inform her holistic teaching philosophy: “In our studio, the tenets of Honesty, Health, and Dignity guide us through the times of trial, self-doubt, self-questioning, and growth.”
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and began her violin studies with her mother, Setsu Goto, after displaying a strong aptitude for music at an early age. In 1982, conductor Zubin Mehta invited the then 11-year-old Midori to perform with the New York Philharmonic in the orchestra’s annual New Year’s Eve concert. The standing ovation that followed her debut spurred Midori to pursue a major musical career at the highest level.
Midori plays the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù ‘ex-Huberman’. She uses four bows – two by Dominique Peccatte, one by François Peccatte and one by Paul Siefried.