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 prominent concert violinist to her other roles as a noted global cultural ambassador and 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 not just to hear music but to be personally moved by it. She has performed with, among many others, the symphony orchestras of London, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and the Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Berlin, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, St Petersburg and Czech philharmonics and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She has collaborated with such outstanding musicians as Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Christoph Eschenbach, Mariss Jansons, Paavo Järvi, Yo-Yo Ma, Susanna Mälkki, Menahem Pressler and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Midori’s recent and upcoming engagements highlight her versatility with performances of orchestral and chamber works by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Schumann, Hindemith, Brahms, Mozart, Franck, Respighi, Schubert and Enescu in Europe, Asia, North and South America. She makes guest appearances with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. She tours Europe with the Munich Chamber Orchestra and Japan with Estonian Festival Orchestra and Paavo Järvi. She undertakes a world-wide recital tour with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and performs trio concerts with pianist Jonathan Biss and cellist Antoine Lederlin.
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. The two-CD set of her highly-acclaimed interpretation of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin was released in 2015, followed in 2017 by a DVD of the same repertoire, filmed at Köthen Castle, where Bach served as Kapellmeister.
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 celebrated 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 youth, 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 in the United States and beyond 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 (ICEP) 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 India with follow-up appearances each season in Japan. The 2018-2019 ICEP returns to Vietnam.
A persuasive advocate of cultural diplomacy, Midori has been invited to speak at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., among others. 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.
Until May 2018, Midori held the Jascha Heifetz Chair at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she spent 14 years working one-on-one with her violin students. She will continue her involvement at USC in a visiting artist role as Judge Widney Professor of Music alongside a distinguished visiting artist position at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Midori is also an honorary professor at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music and a guest professor at both Soai University in Osaka and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in addition to teaching regularly at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and the Weimar Meisterkurse. 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.