Classical musician Midori launched her professional career 20 years ago when she performed a challenging Paganini violin concerto with the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Zubin Mehta - she was only 11 years old. In the past two decades, Midori has played with some of the world's leading orchestras, headlined her own recitals and has received critical acclaim for her recordings. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us about Midori's new album, Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos.
Growing up in Japan, Midori received a tiny violin when she was four years old. Three years later, she gave her first public performance playing on a vintage instrument. Midori relocated to the U.S., where she studied at several prominent music schools, and impressed some of the greatest conductors and musicians with her talent. Pinchas Zukerman, Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta became instant fans of the young violinist.
Midori became a permanent resident of New York City, and started her recording career in 1986, with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, directed by her friend and mentor, Pinchas Zukerman.
During her debuts with various symphonies, Midori continued to amaze audiences, her fellow musicians and conductors. During her debut concert with the Boston Symphony, 14-year-old Midori broke a string on her own violin, and was quickly given the concertmaster's instrument. When another string broke, she grabbed the violin of yet another orchestra member, and didn't miss a note. At the end of the piece, conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein fell to his knees as the audience and symphony erupted into applause.
Midori has evolved from child prodigy to seasoned international recording star and top concert draw. Her new album, Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos with the Berliner Philharmoniker, was recorded during her European tour of the past year. The Mendelssohn piece is one of the greatest works in the violin repertoire, while the Bruch concerto challenges the player with its intensity. Midori had been playing some of the excerpts during her recent 20th anniversary concert appearances. Midori just finished her annual tour of schools and hospitals in her native Japan, where she gave 17 lecture concerts with her pianist, and visited eight youth orchestras. After taking some time off to relax in the hills of Vermont, she's ready to begin her next concert season.
Through the end of the year, Midori will be playing with several symphony orchestras across North America. She'll also be launching a new project, called Partners in Performance, which she created to counteract the cutbacks in arts funding and school music programs.
In an effort to stimulate interest in chamber music, Midori and other prominent artists will play free concerts in rural areas that don't have the financial resources to present major classical music events. The participants will perform in small community art centers across the U.S.