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October 14, 2009

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Simple, pure delight in music

RENOWNED violinist and impassioned music educator Midori makes her Shanghai debut on October 18. She tells Nie Xin about teaching young violinists and widening access to music. Famed Japanese violinist Ryu Goto performed to rave reviews in Shanghai in July. His even more famous elder sister, Midori Goto, will make her Shanghai debut at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on Sunday.

She is famous in the field of music education, frequently performs with young musicians and holds master classes. Midori will collaborate with conductor Zhang Guoyong and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, performing Sibelius' classics, including "Finlandia," "The Swan of Tuonela," "Karelia Suite" and "Violin Concerto in D Minor."

"This will be my first time working with Zhang and the Shanghai Symphony, always an interesting aspect of concerts. Rather than trying to predict how a concert goes, I try to approach each performance with openness, going wherever the music takes me at the moment," Midori says.

She calls Sibelius' violin concerto one of the most beloved violin works and says she has always loved playing it.

"I am very much looking forward to coming to Shanghai," she says.

Her instrument is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Huberman," on lifetime loan to her from the Hayashibara Foundation. She uses three bows, two by Dominique Peccatte and the third by Fran?¢ois Peccatte.

Midori was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971 and moved to the United States at the age of 11. She lives in Los Angeles.

She began studying violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. In 1982, when Zubin Mehta first heard her play, he invited Midori to be a surprise soloist for the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve concert. She received a standing ovation and impetus for her career.

In 2000, Midori received a bachelor's degree in psychology and gender studies at the Gallatin School of New York University, and received a master's degree in psychology in 2005.

She made her first recording at the age of 14 for Philips, playing Bach and Vivaldi with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman.

In 2003 Sony Classical released Midori's recording of the "Bruch G Minor" and "Mendelssohn E Minor" recorded live with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Mariss Jansons. The recording won Germany's coveted Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, as did her recording of French recital repertoire with pianist Robert McDonald.

She now records exclusively for Sony BMG, which issued two albums for her in 2008.

Midori devotes considerable time to music education.

At the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, Midori holds the Jascha Heifetz Chair and chairs the Strings Department. She provides private violin instruction, chamber music coaching and develops curriculum for community engagement studies.

Midori actively performs with her students both on and off campus. She holds master classes with young violinists around the world.

"Playing together with young musicians is always a refreshing experience, particularly in the exchange of ideas and perspectives," she says. "Consistency and quality are two essential elements of a student's early and continued exposure to music.

"I try not to give general advice, but it is my hope that young musicians always remember the simple, pure delights of music."

Midori is dedicated to increasing access to music at a time of financial cutbacks in music education. In 1992 she started "Midori & Friends" in response to serious cutbacks in music education in New York City schools. Over 16 years, more than 150,000 children have benefited.

The program provides comprehensive music education (including instrument instruction and general music instruction), workshops and concerts for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity for involvement in the arts.

"All of my community engagement work is born of a simple desire to share music with others and to bring people together," says Midori.

Each of her projects and organizations addresses this goal through music education with Midori & Friends; performing for and with young people in Asia through Music Sharing; bringing chamber music to smaller communities through Partners in Performance; working with youth orchestras in residency, and so on.

"I was raised in an environment where there was a passion for education, and people were committing themselves to sharing with others and dedicating their work to their communities. These experiences give my life and work such joy, and I am constantly stimulated and motivated by these experiences," says Midori.

Apart from school and the concert hall, Midori enjoys reading, writing and attending the theater.

"I have always loved to read, so I usually pick up a book when I have a spare moment."

Flying from city to city for her concert tour, Midori writes in her blog:

"The places I visit, first time or not, always bring me much to discover and remind me of the passage of time. With every trip taken to any city, one is reminded of the changes brought forth consciously and unconsciously."

Midori tells Shanghai Daily that while on tour, she doesn't take time for sightseeing or tourism, but shuttling around for errands, meals, concerts and events gives her a feel for cities.

Date: October 18, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 50-380 yuan

Tel: 6433-3574, 6437-5608


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