Midori is a former child prodigy, a visionary violinist, activist, educator, and a leading concert violinist for over 35 years. She explored and built connections between music and the human experience and defied traditional boundaries, making her the most outstanding violinist of our time.
Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971, Midori grew up hearing the musical influences that remain with her today: Bach, Paganini, and her mother, Setsu Goto, a professional violinist. Her younger brother, Ryu Goto, is also a violinist.
Rise as a child prodigy
She debuted with the New York Philharmonic as a surprise guest at the New Year’s Eve Gala at 11 in 1982. She left the crowd charmed.
A group of collectors also loaned her an original Stradivarius instrument that she still uses. Conductor Zubin Mehta invited her to Asia tour with the orchestra. She signed with CBS Masterworks, now known as Sony Classical, and her international career skyrocketed the same year. She dropped her surname after her parent’s divorce. The prolific violinist briefly took the name Mi Dori and then adopted the solid spelling.
At 14, she made it to the front page of the New York Times after a performance with the Philharmonic in Central Park. The press generosity benefited her throughout her teen years.
She stunned both teachers and audiences by mastering some of the most challenging works in the violin repertory. She recorded Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1, in 1988.
After leaving her child prodigy status, she has worked with many conductors and orchestras globally. A charismatic performer, Midori remained within the boundaries of the mainstream violin concerto repertoire from Bach to Bartók for much of her career. She later broadened her scope. Her style evolved with chamber music. Her first trio tour came in 2008, with pianist Jonathan Biss and cellist Johannes Moser, who commissions new works. Midori’s work to promote classical music at the community level took her as far afield as Indonesia.
Harmonizing music and philanthropy
In 1992, Midori founded Midori & Friends at the age of 21. This non-profit organization brings music education programs to thousands of underprivileged children each year. With two other organizations, Music Sharing, and Partners in Performance, she encourages variety and diversity in music and people’s lives who have no involvement with the arts. Midori is also a U.N. Messenger of Peace. She inspires young people through music education to build a sense of community and learn from each other.
Midori’s achievements include awards in both musical and humanitarian honors. She won the Avery Fisher Prize in 2001, and in 2007, became an official U.N. Messenger of Peace.
Midori released more than 20 albums. She is a faculty member at the University of Southern California since 2005. In 2018, she joined the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as well.
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